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NAVRATRI: OF FASTS, DANDIYAS AND GARBAS

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Geographical Barriers: Across the country
The True Nine Colors
If you want to experience the festive colors of India, then come and experience the true festive spirit of Navratri. Derived from the Sanskrit words ‘nav’ and ‘ratris’, meaning nine and nights respectively, this Hindu festival is a festival of devotion, fast, dance and music.

A significant festival in every Indian household, Navratri is a time where nine forms of Hindu goddesses like Durga, Bhadrakali, Amba or Jagadamba, Annapurna, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika or Chandi, Lalita and Bhavani are worshipped each day. According to the Hindus, the nine forms signify various traits that the goddess influences us with. It is a festival in which God is adored as a ‘Mother’. It usually begins during the first day of Ashwin, which falls generally in October.

During the nine days, devotees observe fast for the protection of health and property. For some, it is a period of introspection and purification. The devotees eat only one full vegetarian meal at sunset. The traditional Navratri meal is devoid of onion, garlic and selected spices. However, one can eat in abundance fruits, curds and nuts. Spices are restricted to red chillies, turmeric and cumin seeds. Navratri is the festive period for Indians residing in all four corners of the country. Each region has its traditional fervor of celebration.

DANDIYA-RAAS: Swaying off in Style

In Gujarat and Rajasthan, navratri is the most awaited festival of the year. Men and women of all age groups are attired in their vibrant costumes swaying with traditional dandiyas and garbas at open grounds. It is a huge community gathering, where the men folk dressed in their bright hued kediyas and women in their jathak-matak ghagra cholis dances elegant in style grabbing attractive bumper prizes.

Traditionally, many households place the decorated garba—earthen pots lit up with oil and cotton wick. Women, place this Garbha deep in the center, as a symbol of Shakti. They sing prayers and devotional songs with the dancing and clapping in concentric circles around the Garba deep.

A Strict Fasting Ritual: Workishipping Goddesses

During Dussera, in Northern India, a strict fast is observed for seven days, where no water or ingredients like garlic and onion are forbidden. On the eighth day of Ashtami, devotees break their fasts by calling young girls home. They call young girls as ‘Kanjak Devis’ and treat them as their goddesses. They ceremoniously wash their feet, worship them and then offer food and gifts.

Spirit of Bengalis

The Bengalis celebrate with deep devotion the Durga Puja on a grand note. They bring together the community by observing the rituals of Durga Puja with a flavor of Bengali culture. During the Puja, huge sized idols of Durga Mata posed as killing the demon—Mahishasura are worshipped across the state.

Dolls – Creative Designs

South Indians, particularly Tamilians and Telegus community, express their creativity by placing kolus meaning dolls in steps. They are decorate with flowers and steps. Nine young ‘kanyas’ or virgins are offered new clothes and sweets as the goddesses, while the married women share flowers, kumkum and snacks among themselves.

Dusshera Celebration : Celebrating Good over Evil

To mark the nine-day celebrations of fasting, the tenth day of Navratri is called as Dusshera. In the North, towering effigies of Ravana, Kumbarkaran and Megnath are burnt in open grounds to depict the triumph of good over evil. The Hindus believe it as an auspicious time to buy expensive properties and household items. The celebration at Mysore is celebrated on a grandeur scale with caparisoned elephants lead a colourful procession through the gaily-dressed streets of the city.

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