Navratri is a Hindu festival especially for women, which means Nav (nine) and ratri means (night) i.e. navratri (nine nights) is celebrated over nine following days. This navratri comes four times in a year, two times it is worshiped silently, and another two times with much fervor – one starts in ‘Chaitra month’ (New year of Hindus) or in March and second one called ‘Shardiya Navratri’ which falls in September or October month. This year Shardiya Navratri starts on 26 September and ends on 5 September 2022 on Dussehra.
During this Navratri devotees worship Goddess Durga and her nine incarnations (avatar), observe fast in these days to gain energy or shakti. People consume sattvic food these days and prohibit eating meat, eggs, garlic and onion.
How is Navratri celebrated in different states ?
Navaratri is devoted to Goddess Durga and 9 incarnations (avatar) of her, but in different regions, due to different customs and traditions it is celebrated in different ways.
1. Ramleela in North India
In UP, Haryana, mostly north Indian states, navratri is celebrated for 9 days and with ram leela epic Ramayana is also played during 9 days and it ends on on 10th day ‘Vijaya Dashami’ with “Dussehra” on which huge effigies of Ravana re burnt.
2. West Bengal (Creating huge pandals or tents or marquees)
In eastern states like Assam, Odisha, Tripura, Jharkhand, the mainly Bengali Hindus Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja to commemorate the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. There are extravagant Pandals (marquees) created with epic statues of Goddess Durga in neighborhoods. Men, Women both dress traditionally, worship (perform Puja) and make offerings (bhogs) to Goddess Durga. There is a traditional dance performed especially by women called ‘Dhunuchi’ with earthen lamps which can dazzle anyone. On the last day of Vijayadashami, the festivity concludes with the beautiful tradition Sindoor khela, followed by immersion of the Goddess idol in water. This depicts the colorful culture of Navratri Goddess Durga.
3. Garba / Garbha in Gujarat
Gujarat celebrates Navratri in a unique way and it becomes a culture of ‘Garba raas’. Sharad Navratri begins on ‘Aaso sud ekam’ as per Gujarati calendar. During the day women keep fast, worship Goddess Durga Shakti and in the evening, people dress up in traditional costumes and perform “Garba / Garbha” dance with dandiyas (sticks) around the idol of Durga. After the Garba, people feast on their food.
4. Bathukamma Panduga in Telangana & Andhra Pradesh
Bathukamma means ‘Mother Goddess comes alive’. This festival begins on the Mahalaya Amavasya (as per Sathavahana calendar) with the start of Navratri and ends on Saddula Bathukamma. It’s a floral festival, in which a beautiful stack of flowers is created in the shape of a temple with seasoned flowers. The festival is celebrated for 9 days with joy, traditional dance, music and much more. On the last day Bathukamma is set float in a water body.
5. Nada Habba in Karnataka
Mysore Dasara is the NadaHabba or the state festival of Karnataka. It is 10-day festival, starting with 9-days Navratri and 10th day as Vijayadashami. During these 10 days many cultural events, Procession of elephants and horses, film festivals, food mela, wrestling competitions, various music and dance concerts are held in front of the palace. On the 10th day, a grand procession of dancers and musicians, Goddess Durga image mounted on a golden saddle atop an elephant and horses procession is carried out in the city.
The public can watch events live by : https://mysoredasara.gov.in
6. Worship the Goddess of Wisdom in Kerala
During the last days of Navratri, people worship Goddess Saraswati, people put books in front of her idol with offerings like jaggery, sweets and perform the puja. And celebrate with Kerala’s own culture and tradition.
7. Kolu in Tamil Nadu
Golu or Bommai Kolu in Tamil, Bommai koluvu in Telugu. To celebrate Golu, people set up a multi-step staircase display of figurines of God, Goddess, toys and dolls decorated with lights and flowers. The number of steps should be an odd number 3,5,7,9 or 11 and pay homage to Goddess Saraswati, Laxmi, Durga. Ayudha puja is also done in Tamil Nadu. Friends, relatives, neighbors are invited to homes, wish each other and exchange gifts.
8. Melas in Rajasthan
During the nine days of Navratri, women keep fast, visit temples and durga puja is celebrated with so much enthusiasm and people enjoy it during huge fairs (mela) are organized in several cities. Many events are organized, men and women deck up in traditional dresses and perform rituals and traditional dance, music and have a feast of navratri special food.
What is the difference between Durga Puja and Navratri, are they really the same ?
Many people think that Durga Puja and Navratri are the same even when mentioned separately. But there is a little difference when it comes to rituals whereas both festivals are celebrated to honor the Goddess Durga and to bring the people closer during celebrations.
So what makes the difference is the festivity style of celebration. Navratri in north, west and most part of India is worshiping of Goddess Durga and her nine incarnations over nine nights and the festival ends with Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana on Dussehra (also called ‘Vijaydashami’). While in most Eatern states, especially West Bengal, Durga Puja is celebrated on the victory over the demon Mahishasura.
In Navratri, worship begins with puja of Shailputri (first avatar of Goddess Durga). While in Durga Puja it begins with Mahalaya, a day when the battle began between Durga and Mahishasura.
And the Navratri celebrations ends with burning effigy of Ravana on Dussehra, while in Durga Puja celebrations ends with ‘Sindoor Khela’ where married women play with sindoor (vermillion) and later the immersion of Goddess Durga idols in water body.
Durga Puja and Rituals
The 5 day Durga puja starts on the 6th day of Navratri called “Sasthi” on 1st Oct. and ends on 10th day Vijay Dashami (Dussehra) on 5th October 2022. It is believed that Goddess Durga, Laxmi, Saraswat, Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya come on the Earth these days and bless the devotees.
“Maha Shasti” sixth day on 1st Oct – The “Bilva Nimantran” (or Bilva puja) ritual
Durga Puja begins with Bilva nimantran, in which Goddess Durga is invoked (or dwelling spirit) on the Bilva tree, then invited to puja for upcoming 4 days. The ritual to perform the invocation of Goddess Durga is at Sanyakal (around 2 hours before sunset). The other rituals also performed Kalparamba, Bodhon, Adhivas and amantran.
“Maha Saptami” seventh day on 2nd Oct – The “Kola Bou” ritual
It is performed as a ceremonial bath given to a banana tree, dress up in a sari like new bride and eight different type of plants or leaves tied on trunk of banana tree and worshiped as nine divine avatars of Goddess Durga. The eight leaves are : turmeric, wood apple, pomegranate, arum plant, rice, ashok, colocasia, saal. Each of the leaves define different forms of Goddess Durga. This ritual is also called “Nabapatrika snan”.
“Anjali” ritual all three days saptami, ashtami, navami – priests perform the rituals and worship the Goddess Durga, while all devotees pay respect through ‘Pushpanjali’ (carrying flowers with bel leaves in hands joining like cupped palms). This is performed in the morning, with 3 rounds of floral offerings while chanting mantras.
“Ashtami” on 3rd Oct – “Kumari Puja”
The “Kanya Puja” ritual is performed on this day, in which a young girl is adorned as Goddess Durga and worshiped.
Then “Sandhi Puja” ritual is performed between end of saptami and start of navami, in this Goddess Durga is worshiped as Chamunda avatar who is credited with the killing of demon Mahishasura. Priests chanting mantras, the drummers or Dhakis performed so energetic, makes anyone perplexed. Earlier it’s customary to make an animal sacrifice but later it was discontinued, now symbolically vegetables are sacrificed.
“Dhunuchi Naach” – is a devotional dance on the beats of ‘Dhak’ to thank the Goddess Durga, which is performed by men and women during durga puja aarti in the evening. It is a fun-filled ritual, which is performed by carrying earthen pots filled with coconut husk, charcoal, incense and camphor. Dhuno is an Indian frankincense which is made from resin of Sal tree.
“Navami” on 4th Oct “Maha Aarti”
The last day of worship, Maha aarti is performed (great fire ceremony) to conclude the rituals and prayers. Goddess Durga is worshiped in the form of ‘Mahishasura mardini’ (the destroyer of demons). Everyone deck up in traditional attire, ‘Bhog’ Goddess’s favorite food is prepared and offered to her, then after being distributed to the devotees.
“Dashami” on 5th Oct “Vijay Dashami”
In morning Goddess Durga is worshiped and her idols are carried out for the immersion. But before that “Sindoor Khela” is performed, where married women deck up in traditional dresses and offer sindoor and sweets to Goddess Durga. After that they smear each other with that sindoor (vermillion). Earlier it was prohibited for the widows, but now they also participate.
It is believed that after Visarjan of the idol, the Goddess returns to her husband’s abode after the final Puja.
“Bisarjan” ritual – After Sindoor khela, Goddess Durga idols are carried out, a huge rally is carried out through the city. During this parade devotees dance, enjoy and finally the idols are immersed into the water body or river.
“Bijoya” – After the Goddess Durga leaves, the celebration period begins which lasts upto Diwali. Younger touch feet of their elders seek blessings. Everyone hug each other (kolakuli), sweets or Naru made of coconut and jaggery are distributed.
Top places to visit during Navratri or Durga Puja festival ?
1. Kolkata, West Bengal : The best place to celebrate navratri, huge pandals (‘tents’) created with great statues of Goddess Durga and all this decorated with flowers, lights. Everyone is soaked in festive fervor. Navratri in Bengal is known as ‘Durga Puja or Durgotsav’.
2. Ahmedabad, Gujarat : it’s one of the best places to celebrate Navratri. During this festive season, people gather to show their traditional dance ‘Garba’, play ‘Dandiya’ with sticks and deck up in traditional costumes.
3. Varanasi, UP : it is the holiest city, here navratri is celebrated in grand style. Thousands of diyas are lit up on varanasi ghats, aartis performed during dusk and dawn at the ghats must be attended. Ramcharitmanas chanted all over the city, Ramleela is performed in a grand manner and ends with burning huge effigies of Ravana on dussehra. ‘Ayodhya’ is also a must visit place during navratri.
4. Mysore, Karnataka : During navratri mysore palace is lightened up, many events are held in front of the palace. Huge procession of elephants and horses with dance groups and musicians are carried out in the city. It’s also called Mysuru Dasara or Nadahabba festival.
5.Bastar, Chhattisgarh : In bastar, navratri or dussehra is celebrated at the time when their native Goddess Devi Mavli meets her own sisters. It is celebrated over 75 days with many rituals performed and fairs organized during these days, deities from nearby places visit Danteshwari Temple in Jagdalpur. Huge chariot procession is carried out in the city.
6.Mumbai, Pune, Maharashtra : Either Durga Puja or Garba dance or Ram leela, everything is celebrated in Mumbai. Huge pandals of Goddess Durga, music, dance, people deck up in traditional attire and many things happen in the city Mumbai, Pune.
7. Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh : Thousands of devotees visit Kanak Durga temple, Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam, Mangalgiri Laxmi Narsimha temple, where Dasara is celebrated and many events are also held and everyone is in festive fervor.
8. Kullu Dussehra, Himachal Pradesh : Here Navratri is celebrated with Kullu Dussehra in Himachal Pradesh, which lasts for seven days. Thousands of devotees from nearby places and across many states visit Kullu’s Raghunath ji temple. Huge parades with local deities from nearby villages head towards this temple and many events are also held during this festival.
9. Delhi : Many Gujarati, Bengali and from other states as well live in Delhi, during Navratri they gather and many events are organized everyone plays Garba and Dandiya and worship Goddess Durga. Ram leela plays are performed throughout the city, burning a huge effigy of Ravana in Ramlila Maidan.
10. Katra, J&K : Grand decorations at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Temple with flowers and lights, which create a colorful and great atmosphere. Thousands of devotees visit Mata Vaishno Devi temple during Navratri to get blessings.
11. Kamakhya Devi Temple, Assam : Thousands of devotees congregate at the temple as navratri celebration begins. ‘Kumari or girl Puja’ has been performed during Navratri, on the first day one Kumari will be worshiped. Then on the second day, two Kumaris will be worshiped. And this goes consecutively till navami. Durga Puja is celebrated for 15 days at Kamakhya temple from Krishna Navami to Shukla Navami.
Best pandals places to visit during Navratri or Durga Puja ?
Sreebhumi Durga Puja Pandal, Singhi Park, Chaltabagan, Jodhpur Park, Bagbazar Sarbojanin, Bandhu Mahal Club in Baguiati, Santosh Mitra Square, Pally Mangal samity Taltala ground, Ekdalia Evergreen Club, Badamtala Ashar sangha, Suruchi sangha, College Square, Kumartuli Park Sarbojanin, Ahiritola Sarbojanin Durgotsab, Bhowanipur 75 Pally, Samaj Sebi Sangha, Chetla Agrani Club, Young Boys club, Hazra Park, Deshapriya Park, Santosh Mitra Square, Tridhara Sammilani, Naktala Udayan sangha, Mudiali club, Sovabazar Rajbari
Mela ground CR Park, Kashmiri gate, kalibari in Mayur Vihar, Minto Road Durga puja, Matri Mandir safdarjung enclave, Aram Bagh durga puja samiti, Sushant lok in Gurugram, kali bari dwarka, Mayur Vihar.
Shivaji Park Daddar west, Sec 6 Vashi Navi mumbai, Juhu, Lokhandwala Complex Andheri West, Cumbala Hill.
Best places for Garba & Dandiya in Gujarat ?
Vadodara, University way of Baroda, University of Baroda (Faculty of Fine Arts), Shishu Sanskrutik Garba, Ahmedabad, Bhadra Fort, Rajpath Club, NID/CEPT, Gandhinagar, Gandhinagar Cultural forum ground, Rajkot, Race Course Rajkot, Khodaldham Rajkot, Surat, Ena Navratri Mahotsav (Surat).
Why is Navratri celebrated for 9 days ?
The Navratri or Durga Puja is celebrated for nine days, it is believed that the battle between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura fought consecutively for 9 days and in the end Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura. Then the 10th day celebrated as ‘Vijayadashami’ Lord Rama killed Ravana. This both represents the triumph of Good over evil. This festivity season is celebrated every year with great fervor.
What are the 9 forms of Maa Durga, what to offer and why they worshiped ?
During these nine days, each day is celebrated for an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The first day of the festival starts with ‘Kalash or Ghatasthapana’, with so much fervor across India.
Day 1 : for Goddess Shailputri, devotees offer pure ghee and worship to provide strength and stamina, protect from illness and diseases.
Day 2 : Goddess Bhramacharini, devotees offer sugar and worship to bless with eternal peace, blissfulness, increase longevity of family.
Day 3 : Goddess Chandraghanta, offers kheer, sweets and worship to destroy all evil forces.
Day 4 : Goddess Kushmanda, offers ‘Malpua’ sweet dish and she is creator of the universe worshiped to bless with the well being of family.
Day 5 : Goddess Skandamata, offers bananas, fruits and worship to keep the family in good health.
Day 6 : Goddess Katyayani, offers honey and worship to offer courage and protection from troubles.
Day 7 : Goddess Kaalratri, offers jaggery or sweets and worship to protect from evil powers and bring peace.
Day 8 : Goddess Maha Gauri, offers coconut and is worshiped to bless with children who have no child, prosperity, wisdom.
Day 9 : Goddess Siddhidatri, offers sesame seeds, sweets and is worshiped to protect from misfortune and provide happiness.