India is the land of multiple gods and goddesses and lots of festivals. One such very auspicious and holy festival is that of Navaratri which is dedicated to the worship and prayers of the revered warrior goddess Durga. The word navaratri signifies a period of nine nights which is devoted to the worship of Goddess Durga and the final or tenth day is Vijaya Dashami where the blessings of the elders are sough. On this day, the idols of goddess Durga and her children are immersed in the holy waters of Ganges.
About the Festival
Navaratri is a Hindu festival which two words in Sanskrit means nava as nine and ratri as nights. The nine divine forms of the mother goddess are worshipped during this festival. Vijayadashami is also celebrated as Dussera in some parts of the country. Legend has it that during divine reign, a buffalo-headed demon called Mahisasura who could change form at will, had become invincible due to a boon was given by Brahma that he would only be slayed by a woman. He started creating havoc in the three worlds and so Goddess Durga, the ultimate Mother Goddess was created out of the emanating energies of all the gods. After a fierce battle, she slayed mahisasur and restored peace on earth.
Navaratri or Durga Pooja as it is celebrated with great pomp and grandeur in West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Assam Orissa and so on. There are great pandals created and idols of Durga and her four children are installed in them. It basically signifies battle of good over evil.
It is the time of great joy and good cheer throughout this time. The schools provide vacations for pooja or Navaratri. People wear new clothes, exchange gifts, have sweets and bless their younger ones. This festival is basically held in the spring or mainly autumn season. The months on which this Navaratri comes include September or October. The exact dates are determined as per the lunar calendar. On the day of Dashami, married ladies have sindoor khela or smearing of sindoor or vermilion amongst themselves.
In many states, the legend of Prince Rama and his battle with demon king Ravana is enacted. Effigies of Ravana are burnt indicating the destruction of evil and prevalence of goodness with the defeat of Ravana by Rama. Praying to the Mother Goddess amidst hymns, dhak beats and conch shells plus the prayers offered by the priests bring forth a sacred and beautiful tone to the festival.
The Navaratri is a most sacred and auspicious Hindu festival which worships the Mother Goddess in all her bright nine forms. Garba is a conventional dance form which is majorly celebrated in Gujrat during this festival. Another important aspect of this festival is that many people keep fasts as they worship the goddess. This is a festival which marks the victory of good over evil since time immemorial and assures the most ardent devotee that whenever evil befalls the earth, the Mother Goddess will reincarnate to restore peace and bring forth happiness.