India a land full of festivals. Being a highly spiritual country festivals are at the heart of the people. There are many popular festivals in India.
Navratri is one.
Navaratri is a festival dedicated to worship the Hindu deity Maa Durga (Maa Amba). Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning Nights. Navaratri represents a celebration of the Maa Maa Amba. Navaratri or Navadurga Durga Parva happens to be the most auspicious and unique period of devotional sadhanas and worship of Maa Amba of during these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Devi are worshipped. The tenth day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or Dussehra. Navaratri is an important major festival and is celebrated all over India and Nepal. Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated twenty days after Dussehra. Navratri festival is celebrated twice in a year with great devotion and fervor in all over India. First time it is celebrated as Chaitra Navratri or Vasant Navratri in March-April and second time as Sharad Navratri in the months of September-October. During Chaitra Navratri ninth day is celebrated as Ram Navami while after Sharad Navratri next day is celebrated as Dussehra or Vijayadashami, the victory of good over evil.
The five types of navratri are as follows:
They are Vasanta Navaratri, Ashadha Navaratri, the Sharad Navaratri, the Paush/Magha Navaratri and the Magha Navaratri. Of these, the Sharad Navaratri of the month of Puratashi and the Vasanta Navaratri of the Vasanta kala are the most important. The other two are observed by shaktas only.
- Vasanta Navaratri: Vasanta Navaratri, it's nine days are dedicated to the nine forms of Maa Amba in the month of Chaitra(March–April) and is observed during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Chaitra. The beginning of this Navaratri also marks the start of the new year as per the Hindu mythological lunar calendar (Vikrami Samvat).
- Ashad Navaratri : Ashad Navaratri, also referred to as Gupta, Gayatri or Shakambhari Navaratri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Maa Amba in the month of Ashadha(June–July). It is observed during the Ashadha Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon). This is mostly observed by shaktas (hindu devotees of maa amba) only
- Sharad Navaratri: This is the most important of the Navaratris. It is simply called Maha Navaratri (the Great Navaratri) and is celebrated in the 'pratipada' (first day) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvin. Also known as Sharad Navaratri, as it is celebrated during Sharad(beginning of winter, September–October).
- Pausha Navaratri: Paush Navaratri is observed during the PaushaShukla Paksha, the waxing phase of moon, in the month of December–January.
- Magha Navaratri: The Magha Navaratri is also a kind of Gupta Navaratri. The waxing phase of moon in January–February marks the beginning of Magha Navaratri.
Sharad Navaratri is the most popular one.
Sharad Navratri (Maha Navratri)
In eastern India, the festival is celebrated as Durga Puja. Huge statues of the Maa are made and immersed in the holy Ganges River. The festival is an extremely social and theatrical event, with drama, dance, and cultural performances held throughout the country. People worship the Maa where they keep fast during the day and then they play garba at night.
Navratri celebration and worshipping style is different in every state of India but the devotion is same. It is celebrated widely in every part of India with great enthusiasm with a different name of Maa, like in Gujarat devotees worship as Maa Jagdamba while in West Bengal it is named as Maa Durga. In Kolkata people build huge Pandals at various places for Maa Durga and set up great idols of Maa Durga for worship. In Gujarat, Dandiya and Garba are the two popular dance forms which are performed by the people during Navratri festival.
Here’s a list of dates followed by name day and which colour to be wear:
October 1st 2016
October 2nd 2016
October 3rd 2016
October 4th 2016
October 5th 2016
October 6th 2016
October 7th 2016
October 8th 2016
October 9th 2016
October 10th 2016
October 11th 2016
Some Key Points to Remember for Navratri:
- Sustaining only on fruits and milk for the entire fasting period.
- Involving yourself in prayer or 'prarthana' and long meditation sessions.
- Keeping awake all night and participating in 'bhajans' along with family members.
- Keeping the mind focused on spiritual activities by reading 'Maa Durga Shaptashati' and listening to 'vrat katha' or stories/episodes relating to the nine forms of Ma Maa Durga.
- Wearing different colors each day to honour Ma Maa Durga's nine forms, such as red on the first day.
- Tying a garland of fresh flowers every day to the idol/photograph of Maa Maa Durga.
- Doing charity which includes donating food to the needy.
- Thinking pure thoughts during the auspicious period. Eating only one meal a day, a vegetarian preparation without onion and garlic.
- Lighting 'Akhand Jyot' or a constantly burning 'oil lamp' in front of Maa Maa Durga's idol or picture for the entire period.
- Planting nine varieties of food grains to appease the nine planets.
- Performing 'arti' in front of the idol/photograph of Ma Maa Durga.
- Abstaining from wearing leather shoes, shaving, paring nails or cutting hair during this period.
- Avoiding wearing black colored clothes.
- Inviting married women and seeing them off with auspicious betel nuts and coconut.
- Honoring Maa Durga Ma's nine forms by worshipping nine girls and preparing special meal for them.
- Coinciding the day of starting new ventures or new purchases with Ashtami (eighth day)/Navami(ninth day).
- Choosing to fast only on the first, fourth and seventh day of Navratri festival.
Garba is a Gujarati folk dance celebrated in Navratri, a celebration lasting nine nights. Garba songs typically revolve around the subjects of Lord Krishna or the nine Maaes. Sanedo is an example of a very popular song. Garba styles vary from place to place in Gujarati
Garba is a form of dance which was originated in the state of Gujarat in India. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term Garbha (womb) and Deep (a small earthenware lamp). Many traditional garbas are performed around a centrally lit lamp or a picture or a statue of Maa Amba. The circular and spiral figures of Garba have similarities to other spiritual dances, such as those of Sufi culture. Traditionally, it is performed during the nine-day Hindu festival Navratri.
Modern garba is also heavily influenced by Dandiya Raas,a dance traditionally performed by men. The merger of these two dances has formed the high-energy dance that is seen today.
Garba and Dandiya Raas are also popular in the United States where more than 20 universities have Raas/Garba competitions on a huge scale every year with professional choreography. Garba is also very popular in the United Kingdom where there are a number of Gujarati communities who hold their own garba nights and widely popular among the Gujarati community even in Canada, where the largest navratri festival in the western world is held annually in Toronto. They say "Ae Hallo" for fun, which means "Come on! Let’s start!".
How People Dress During Navratra’s
Both men and women usually wear colorful costumes while performing garba and dandiya. The girls and the women wear Chaniya choli, a three-piece dress with a choli, which is an embroidered and colorful blouse, teamed with chaniya, which is the flared, skirt-like bottom, and dupatta, which is usually worn in the traditional Gujarati manner. Chaniya Cholis are decorated with beads, shells, mirrors, stars, and embroidery work, mati, etc. Traditionally, women adorn themselves with jhumkas, necklaces, bindi, bajubandh, chudas and kangans, kamarbandh, payal, and mojiris. Boys and men wear kafni pyjamas with a Ghagra - a short round kurta - above the knees and pagadi on the head with bandhini dupatta, kada, and mojiris. There is a huge interest in Garba among the youth of India.
The traditional costume of the Garba dancer is red, pink, yellow, orange, and brightly colored Chanya choli or ghagra choli; odhini with bandhani (tie-die), abhla (big mirrors) or with thick Gujarati borders. They also wear heavy jewelry, such as 2-3 necklaces, sparkling bangles, waist belts and long oxidized earrings.
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