India is a country of festivals and celebration. It has a very rich historical and cultural background. Each Indian festival has a proper meaning, reason and significance behind its celebration. Fun and enjoyment are the aspects of the festivals, which sets the festive mood.
The festival of 'Navratri' is one of the most celebrated festivals among the Hindus. 'Nav' means 'nine' and 'ratri' means 'night'. Thus, 'Navratri' is actually 'nine 'nine (auspicious) nights'. Sometimes, 'Navratri' is also termed as 'Navratra'.
Through the nine days - triumphs are offered to the Mother for Her successful struggle with the formidable demons led by Sumbha and Nisumbha.
Dancing, feasting and fasting become the daily routine for the Hindus during the nine days of the Navratras. This festival in Hindu religion is considered to be an eternally enlightening festival. It is actually the worship of the Goddess of power in order to seek her protection from-any possible kind of threat and calamities that may destroy the peaceful life of people on earth. As she is the goddess of power, she is believed to have the power of creation, preservation and destruction.
The festival is celebrated all across India. While the festival is celebrated with much fervor in north India, it has a different color to it in Gujarat.
Dandiya and Garba Raas are the highlights of this festival in Gujarat where people adorn special clothes and dance in huge groups. Garba is performed before the 'aarti, as devotional performance in the honor of the Goddess, while Dandiya is performed after it, as a part of the celebrations.
In the eastern state of West Bengal, the festival takes the shape of Durga Puja, where the devotees celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Ma Durga is worshipped as 'Goddess Shakti'. The people in Bengal pamper themselves with new, bright clothes and indulge in feasting sweets during this festive season.
Sweetmeats are prepared for the celebrations. Children and adults dress up in new bright-colored dresses for the night performances. People sing bhajans in groups and sing glory of the Goddess. At the end of the celebrations, Brahmins are fed and prayers are offered for the protection of health and property.
The festival of Navratra is celebrated twice in India. First, in the Hindi month of Chaitra, which is the month of March- April according to the Gregorian calendar, therefore aptly called the 'Chaitra Navratra'.
In fact, Ramnavmi or the birthday of Lord Rama also falls on the 9th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra (March-April).
Again, it is celebrated in the month of Ashwin i.e. September-October according to the English calendar thereby coinciding with the 'Durga Puja'.
With commercialization, the festival has moved on to be a social festival rather than merely a religious one. However, nothing dampens the spirit of the devout followers of Goddess Durga, as they sing devotional songs and indulge in the celebrations of Navratri, year by year.
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