Navarathri Navratri is one of the most significant festivals of the Hindus held in honour of the divine feminine, celebrated all across the world. This is also one of the most ancient festivals dating back to the times. The word Navratri is derived from two Sanskrit words—’nava’ meaning nine and ‘ratri’ meaning night.
Navratri is celebrated differently in India’s various regions. For many people it is a time of religious reflection and fasting, for others, it is a time for dancing and feasting. Among the fasting customs are observing a strict vegetarian diet and abstaining from alcohol and certain spices. It is celebrated as Durga Pujo in Bengal. Dances performed include Garba, especially in Gujarat.
Typically the festival’s nine nights are dedicated to different aspects of the divine feminine principle or shakti. While the practices varies somewhat by region, generally the first third of the festival focuses on aspects of the goddess of Shakti or inner power, Durga, the second third on the goddess of wealth Lakshmi, and the final third on the goddess of knowledge Sarasvati. Offerings are often made to the goddesses and their various aspects, and rituals are performed in their honour.
In South India, this festival is also celebrated with ‘Golu’, a display of dolls in a stair/steps arrangement. Usually, the steps start from 3 and it can extend to 9. Golu features clay dolls of Gods’ and Goddess’, statuettes, figurine, and themed dioramas. Each step in the Golu has a greater spiritual significance. They are a metaphor for ‘ascending towards enlightenment’. The top 2-3 step features statuettes of deities and gods, while the lowest steps are covered with figures of animal and fruit. The middle layers usually depict scenes from daily life, like shopping, dancing, and just having a good time. Keeping Golu is considered as a tradition passed on from earlier generations in the family.
As per Hindu mythology, the culmination of nine days is Dussehra or Vijayadashami a time to celebrate the triumphs of good over evil, such as Durga’s victory over Mahishasura.
The foods associated with Navrathri in South India are sundals, tempered rice, sweets and simple vegetarian fares. We serve these at Daana this weekend with a prayer for your well being and happiness.