Navratri is one of the main Hindu festivals is celebrated for nine days and is marked with various religious, musical and cultural performances. It is celebrated in most parts of the country, predominantly in the states of Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Goa. This festival is symbolic of the worship of the goddess as mother manifested in the form of ‘Shakti’ (Power).
Navratri begins from Ashwin shudhd pratipada and concludes on navmi tithi. This is followed by Dussehra, also called ‘Vijayadashmi’.
Hindu mythology associated with the festival says that Goddess Durga took different forms to kill demons Shumbh-Nishumbh, Mahishasur and Raktabij and had to battle with them for nine day and nights to kill them. To mark this victory Navratri is celebrated for nine nights, followed by ‘Vijayadashmi’ on the tenth day.
This year Navratri will be celebrated from September 28 to October 5, followed by Dussehra on September 6. The main ritual of this festival is ‘ghatsthapana’, which is held on the first day. Some of the rituals include placing an urn filled with sacred water, decorated with mango leaves on a heap of mud on which wheat is sprinkled. A coconut is placed vertically over the mouth of the urn. This urn is worshipped as a symbolic representation of the goddess. The pot, worshipped during Navratri, symbolises the effulgent universe.
A ‘lamandiva’ or ‘nandadeep’ (pedestal oil lamp) is kept burning throughout the entire festive period.
The celebration of this festival varies from state to state. In Goa, Navratrotsav is marked with rituals, kirtan performances, musical programmes, cultural events and chanting of saptshati verses. The main feature is the makharotsav and palanquin procession.
The idol is placed in a decorated ‘makhar’, which is suspended from the ceiling and is swung by the temple priest. This is followed by aarti, prayers, and tirth prasad. Durga is said to appear in nine different forms and each one is worshipped for a day. ‘Dash Maitrikas’ (the ten sisters) are brought out so that devotes can offer prayers. They include Shantadurga, Aryadurga, Mhalsa, Katyayani, Mahamaya, Kamakshi, Vijayadurga, Bhumika, Mahalaxmi and Navdurga.
Mahakali, Mahasaraswati and Mahalaxmi are the three different forms of Durga. On the first three days Kali is honoured. In this ‘avatar’ she is believed to be a spiritual force, which destroys all impurities. The following three days – Chaturthi, Panchami and Shasthi – is in honour of Mahalaxmi, who is the giver of spiritual wealth. She is said to be the goddess of wealth. Maha Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom, is worshipped on the remaining days. People pray to her and seek her blessings in order to attain success in life. In Bengal, the devotees of Mahakali are many and they celebrate it as Durga pooja. In Gujarat, the festival is marked with the display of vibrant folk dances such as graba and dandiya. In Karnataka, the nine day long festival concludes with the grand celebration of Vijayadashmi, the day when Durga kills the demon Mahishasur. Effigies of Mahishasur are burnt by devotees on this day.
Even though the traditional ways of celebration have changed a little, the fervour and enthusiasm has, over the years, at the time of Navratrotsav, increased in Goa.
Courtesy: Navhind Times