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Navratri (Durga Puja): The Nine Nights of the Worship of Goddess Durga

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Goddess Durga riding on her lion and attacking demon Mahisasur.

Goddess Durga riding on her lion and attacking demon Mahisasur.

About the Navratri Festival

Navratri is one of the most celebrated of all Hindu festivals. "Nav" means nine, and "ratri" means night; thus, Navratri festival means a festival spread over nine nights.

Though Navratri comes five times in a year, the most important and major are:

  • Vasanta Navratri (also known as Basanta Navrathri, Chaitra Navratras, or Raama Navratri), which is celebrated in the month of March or April every year. It ends on the 9th and final day which is celebrated as Ram Navami.
  • Sharada Navratri (also known as Maha Navratri or Sharad Navratri), which is celebrated in the months of September or October every year. The 10th day after the nine nights is celebrated as Vijayadashmi, the celebration of good over evil. It is also called Dussehra.

The dates of Navratri are based on the lunar calendar and change every year.

A pot is installed in a clean place in the home and a lamp is kept lighted at all times for the entire duration of the Navratri festival. This is called Ghatasthapana.

Goddess Durga, the epitome of power or shakti, is worshipped during Navratri. It is believed the goddess had nine forms, and she is worshipped in these forms during the nine-night festival.

2020 Dates

The Vasanta (Chaitra) Navratri festival will be celebrated from 25 March to 3 April in 2020. The Sharada Navaratri festival will be celebrated from 17 October to 26 October n 2020.

The 8th Day and 9th Days

  • The eighth day is celebrated as Durga Ashtami or Ashtami. It is celebrated on an especially large scale in West Bengal.
  • On the ninth day, Kanya Puja (the worship of young girls who have not reached the age of puberty) is performed. Nine girls represent the nine forms of the Goddess Durga or Divine Mother. Their feet are washed, tilak is applied to their foreheads, and they partake in a feast of pooris, halwa, and black gram, a sweet dish like kheer. They are offered new clothes and fruits by those who perform this ceremony.

The Nine Forms of Goddess Durga

Depending on the region, different forms of the Goddess Durga are worshipped. The forms are:

  • Durga: the invincible
  • Bhadrakali: the auspicious and fortunate
  • Amba or Jagdamba: the mother of the universe
  • Annapoorna: the giver of food
  • Sarvamangala: the giver of joy all around
  • Bhairavi: the terrifying
  • Chandika: the violent
  • Lalita: the beautiful
  • Bhavani: the giver of life
  • Mookambika: the one who listens

Fasting During Navratri

Fasting is a common practice observed by many during Navratri. Meat, alcohol, grains, wheat, onions, and garlic are avoided by those fasting. Grains are also avoided, as they are believed to absorb negative energy due to the seasonal changes at this time.

The Legend of Navratri

Though Navratri is a mix of various themes, the common factor is the destruction of evil or the victory of good over evil. In the Chaitra Navratri, the demon Mahishasura (who had defeated all the Gods) was ultimately killed by Goddess Durga. After the Gods were defeated, they approached Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh, whose collective energy gave rise to shakti or power in the form of Goddess Durga. They appealed to her to kill the demon.

In the Chaitra Navratri, the ninth day is celebrated as Ram Navami, or the day Lord Rama was born. In the Sharad Navratri, the 10th day is celebrated as Vijayadashami or Dusshera, the day when the demon king Ravana was killed by Lord Rama.

The Nine Days

The nine days are divided into three sets of three days each to worship the three different attributes of the Goddess.

  • Days 1–3: The Goddess is worshipped in the form of Durga or Kali, in the form of a Warrior Goddess dressed in red and riding on a lion.
  • Days 4–6: During the middle three days, the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Lakhshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, dressed in gold.
  • Days 7–9: In the last three days, the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, dressed in white and sitting on a white swan.

The Garba Dance

The Garba dance is a folk dance form from the Gujarat state in India. This dance is performed around a centrally placed earthen pot called a "garbha" in which a small lighted earthen lamp called a "Deep" is kept. Dancers dance in circular movements around this Garbha Deep while also revolving.

The dance's circular patterns represent the movement of time and the cycle of life from birth to death to rebirth again. The only thing that remains constant is the feminine form of divinity that is the Goddess Durga, represented by the Garbha Deep. Thus, by way of the Garba dance, the goddess Durga is honored.

The Garba Dance

The Difference Between Garba and Dandiya Dance

The main difference between these two dances is that Garba is performed before the worship or Aarti of the Goddess Durga, while Dandiya dance is done after the worship. Another difference is that Dandiya is performed with wooden sticks, while Garba involves only hand and feet movements. Both men and women take part in these dances.

The Dandiya

The Rituals

There are some different rituals associated with Navratri depending on in which state it is celebrated, though Durga Puja is one common factor. Some of these are:

In Gujarat

After the worship of the Goddess Durga in the evening, traditional dances like Garba and Dandiya are held at night. Around a central lighted lamp, men and women wearing traditional costumes dance in a circle to the accompaniment of devotional songs. Dandia is performed with a stick held in each hand which is struck against the stick of the partner. The dance goes on till the wee hours of the morning. Each locality makes arrangement for these celebrations and rituals.

In Maharastra

The 10th day is considered auspicious for starting a new business, buying a house, etc.

In West Bengal

Durga puja is celebrated here on a massive scale. Massive idols of Goddess Durga are installed and huge pandals are set up at various places for devotees to visit and worship. Everyone attends in new clothes.

In Punjab

Kanya puja is done on the 8th day of the festival before breaking the fast. These girls of prepubescent age are offered puris, chana, halwa, and red scarves.

In South India

Idols of various Gods and Goddesses are placed on specially set-up steps. This arrangement is called Golu.

In the Mysore district of Karnataka

Decorated elephants are taken out in a procession. The streets are colorfully decorated. The royal deity of Mysore, Chamundi is worshipped on this day. Computers, books, vehicles, kitchen tools are worshipped on the 9th day.

In Kerala

In the last three days, books are worshipped.

Sama Ke Chawal Ki Khichdi Recipe

Navratri Dishes

Some dishes that are traditionally prepared during Navratri Vrat are:

  • Falahari Aloo Bonda
  • Sabudana khichdi
  • Sabudana puris and vadas made of tapioca
  • Sabudana kheer: tapioca pudding
  • Vrat ke chawal: rice made during fasting
  • Aval Kesari
  • Singhare ka halwa: a pudding made of water chestnut

Watch the recipe videos above and below.

Aloo Bonda Vrat Recipe

Singhara Pakora Recipe

© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly

Comments

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 08, 2018:

Thank you for giving this article a read John. I am happy you like it.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 08, 2018:

This is a very informative and interesting hub, Rajan. Thank you for sharing.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 28, 2017:

Thank you & happy Navratri to you too Rajitha.

Rajitha on September 23, 2017:

Thank you very much for the wonderful hub and wishing you a happy Navratri☺

CosmoGuru from Ahmedabad on May 29, 2015:

Great Hub

Tapas sen on April 17, 2015:

Happy navratri

saveena on October 02, 2014:

THANK U

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 25, 2014:

Thanks Devika. I'm glad you found the hub interesting. Happy Navratri to you.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 25, 2014:

Great hub! I found this hub after you shared it. A very interesting insight to his festival.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 25, 2014:

@ Jyoti, glad you found the information on Navratri festival useful. Thank you.

@ Chitrangda, let me first wish you too a very happy Navratri.

I'm glad you liked my hub. Thanks for appreciating it in so many words.

The related hubs section is turning out to be pretty useful in this regard and glad yours too is featured here.

Thanks once again for visiting and it's good to see you.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 25, 2014:

Thank you Rajanji, for sharing this wonderful hub!

You have mentioned almost everything about the great festival of Navratri.

Happy Navratri to you!

I found your hub in the 'related hubs' section, under a hub I had submitted some time back about this great festival.

And I can view my hub, under your hub in the same 'related hub' section.

Truly beautiful pictures and description!

bharath on September 24, 2014:

Very nice

Arun dhiman on September 24, 2014:

Thanks for sharing your experiences

lavina Chawla on September 21, 2014:

Lovely recipes. Thanks

Jyoti Kothari from Jaipur on September 16, 2014:

Hi Rajan,

You have pointed out several topics I missed in my hub about the same. Thanks for a nice article. Rated useful.

hemant on October 11, 2013:

You did an xclnt job. This year navratri starts on 5th oct and vijayadashmi is on 13 oct, those who performing fast do they need to break their fast on vijayadashmi or next day of that

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 28, 2013:

Certainly you can, Ashamuthukumaresan!

Ashamuthukumaresan on August 28, 2013:

i don't have practice from previous generation to keep golu , but i would like to do it in my home Can i do this ?

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 01, 2013:

thanks sweetie.

sweetie1 from India on May 30, 2013:

Rajan we all enjoy navratri very much. In fact I always keep fast on day 1 and last day and though most of delhi do the worship things on asthami we do it on Ram naomi. Very good hub. Voted it.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 16, 2013:

Thanks Ajay.

Ajay Kushwaha on April 16, 2013:

I like all goddesses.but I like BajarangBali most

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 08, 2012:

Thanks Gayatri.

Gayatri Radhakrishnan from India on October 07, 2012:

You have covered almost every point of the festival..amazing hub..voted up..:)

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 05, 2012:

Mohan, these comments by such an esteemed writer as yourself are indeed overwhelming and humbling. Thanks for reading and I appreciate all the votes and share.

Mohan Kumar from UK on July 05, 2012:

Thanks Rajan for a beautiful reminder of my time growing up in India and celebrating Navaratri. You have really done us proud by your detail, layout in this lovingly crafted page. Voted up and across! And shared on HH.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 08, 2012:

Thanks Rahul. This one was detailed for the benefit of our readers who wanted to know more about this festival.

Thanks for sharing.

Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on May 08, 2012:

Ah! What a lovely, picturesque, detailed, well crafted hub about a beautiful and one largest festivals here in India, the land of festivities!

Thank you for such a hub Sir! Navratri is celebrated with great pride and enthusiasm in various parts of the country and brings rich traditions and mythology into light!

Also it is marked with exquisite food as you have mentioned,... Tapioca Pudding being my personal favorite

Beautiful hub Sir!

Voted all but funny

Shared all over!!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 07, 2012:

Aurelio, it is a very big festival in India. Glad you liked and I'm sure it must be celebrated in some ways amongst the local Indian population there.

Thanks for reading, voting and sharing.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on May 07, 2012:

Sounds like a great festival. Thanks for revealing some of the dances through the videos, though I like the food videos the best. I'll have to see if they celebrate this festival at the local Indian community. Voting this Up and Interesting. SHARED.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 31, 2012:

Keri, great to know you enjoyed this write up. Thanks for reading and appreciating.

Keri Summers from West of England on March 31, 2012:

This is so colourful. I enjoyed learning more about Hindu Goddesses - an area that interests me but about which I know little. Thank you!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 30, 2012:

Christy, thanks for stopping by and leaving your appreciation. Thank you.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on March 30, 2012:

I really enjoyed learning about the festival! You do a great job of discussing all of the details!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 30, 2012:

Billybuc,it is gladdening to note that my effort to let people from other cultures understand something of our traditional festivals is successful.

Thanks so much for stopping by and appreciating. I can't thank you enough.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 30, 2012:

You did a wonderful job of constructing this hub; it is so visually pleasing plus I learned so much about something I had practically no knowledge of. Great job my friend!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 29, 2012:

Both navratris are important as one culminates in Ram Navmi and the other in Dussehra, incidently both relating to Lord Rama in different ways though. In India, both are celebrated equally but since the autumn Navaratri is close to Diwali it is more popular and evident.

Thanks for your keen observation. I appreciate your stopping by to read.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on March 29, 2012:

Though Spring Navaratri is not popular compared to autumn Navaratri, this is very important Hindu festival.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 29, 2012:

ishwaryaa, I'm glad I could do some justice to this festivals' history and importance and celebrations in various parts of our country. Thanks for the votes and compliments. I appreciate your visit.

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on March 28, 2012:

This is an insightful and enrapturing hub on one of India's significant festivals. I too partake in these colorful celebrations. Well-written and detailed hub.

Thanks for sharing. Rated it interesting. Voted up.

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