Navratri 2023: Navratri, the nine-night Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of the goddess Durga, is a time of devotion, spirituality, and celebration. The word “Navratri” is derived from the Sanskrit words “Nav,” meaning nine, and “Ratri,” meaning night. This festival, which usually falls in the autumn months, typically September or October, holds immense significance in India and among Hindus around the world.
During Navratri, devotees pay homage to different manifestations of the goddess Durga, who symbolizes divine feminine energy and the ultimate victory of good over evil. Each day of this festival is associated with a unique aspect of the goddess and is marked by specific rituals and customs. To make your Navratri celebration meaningful, it’s important to understand the basics of worshipping Maa Durga.
The Four Basics of Worshiping Goddess Durga
According to Vedic Astrology Teacher & Counsellor Bani Singh Chadha, here are the four fundamental aspects of worshiping Goddess Durga during Navratri:
- Lighting a Ghee Diya: Commence your Navratri festivities by lighting a ghee diya (lamp). This lamp represents the illumination of knowledge and wisdom. You can make it even more special by adding a pinch of yellow sarso (mustard seeds) and kumkum (vermilion). Keep this diya burning for all nine days, or if that’s not feasible, light it every morning and evening as a symbol of your devotion.
- Offering Five Types of Fruits: Offer five different types of fruits to the goddess Durga. Fruits with seeds, such as pomegranates or guavas, are particularly auspicious. These fruits represent the abundance and fertility that the goddess embodies.
- Presenting Five Types of Dry Fruits: Alongside the fruits, present the goddess with five varieties of dry fruits. This could include dates, apricots, almonds, cashew nuts, and raisins. Dry fruits signify nourishment and prosperity.
- Reciting Sacred Texts: For your prayers, consider reciting or listening to the Laghu Saptashati, which is comparatively more straightforward than Durga Saptashati and comes with fewer rules and regulations. You can also chant or listen to the melodious verses of Durga Durga Ashtakam or Vindeshwari Chalisa, enhancing your spiritual connection during Navratri.
Other Common Practices During Navratri
Besides the four basics of worshipping Goddess Durga, Navratri encompasses several other customary practices that make the festival unique:
- Fasting: Fasting is a common practice during Navratri. Devotees abstain from non-vegetarian food and certain grains. Some may choose stricter fasts, consuming only fruits or water. Fasting is a way to cleanse the body and mind, focusing on spiritual purity.
- Garba and Dandiya Raas: Navratri is incomplete without the exuberant and traditional dance forms of Garba and Dandiya Raas. People don colorful traditional attire and dance to the lively beats of folk music. Dandiya involves rhythmic movements with sticks, while Garba involves hand movements in a circle. These dances are symbolic of celebrating the goddess’s grace and the victory of light over darkness.
- Prayers and Pujas: Devotees visit temples and conduct special prayers and pujas dedicated to Goddess Durga. These rituals often involve the recitation of religious hymns, mantras, and the offering of flowers and incense.
- Decoration: Households and public spaces come alive with vibrant decorations during Navratri. Colorful rangoli designs adorn entrances, and traditional lamps light up homes, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness.
- Fasting and Feasting: The fasting period is followed by joyful feasting. Families and friends come together to prepare and share an array of delectable vegetarian dishes and sweets. It’s a time of unity, sharing, and togetherness.
- Cultural Programs: Many communities organize cultural events, music performances, and dramas to celebrate Navratri. These programs serve as a platform for showcasing traditional art forms and fostering a sense of community.
Navratri is a time to revel in spirituality, connect with the divine, and partake in festivities that bind communities together. By understanding the basics of worshipping Goddess Durga and participating in these time-honored customs, you can make the most of this auspicious festival and draw closer to the divine feminine energy that the goddess Durga represents.