Navratri Dates 2016
1 October – 11 October 2016
- Navratri Pratipada Ghatsthapana – 1 October, 2016
- Navratri Pratipada Chandra Darshan (1st tithi is repeated) and Dwitiya Brahmacharini Puja – 1 October, 2016
- Navratri Sindoor Tritiya- 3 October, 2016
- Navratri Varad Vinayak Chaturthi and Kushmanda Puja – 4 October, 2016
- Navratri Panchami Upang Lalita Vrat and Skandamata Puja – 5 October, 2016
- Navratri Shasthi Katyayani Puja –6 October, 2016
- Navratri Shasthi (tithi repeated) and Saraswati Ahwan-7 October, 2016
- Navratri Saptami saraswati Puja and Kalaratri Puja – 8 October, 2016
- Navratri Durga Mahashtami – 9 October, 2016
- Navratri Maha Navami- 10 October, 2016
- Navratri Maha Dashami- 11 October, 2016
The last day of navratri is celebrated as Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami
Navratri meaning nine nights (nava= nine; ratri=nights) is a nine day long festival to celebrate the nine forms of Goddess Durga. People in India worship Durga for her ‘Shakti’ or power that made her conquer the buffalo demon Mahishasura that gave her the name ‘Mahishasura Mardini’ (the Annihilator of Mahishasura). This festival represents victory of good over evil and through all its rituals and traditional celebrations, Navratri symbolises with the essence of conquering one’s evils with the goodness of one’s soul.
Every year this Sharad Navratri is observed for nine nights starting on the first day of the bright half of Ashwin month (September/October). It is called Sharad Navaratri as it is celebrated in the Sharada or Autumn season. Navaratri in 2016 will be celebrated during 1 October to 11 October 2016. On the tenth day, Dussehra or Vijaya Dashmi is celebrated by burning effigy of Ravana who was killed by Durga’s ardent devotee, Lord Rama. It is believed that Rama had worshipped Goddess Durga before heading towards Lanka, the kingdom of demon king Ravana. Thus, the followers of Lord Rama too worship Shakti or Durga on these nine days of navratri
Navratri Fast and Rituals
Most of the devotees observe Navratri fast or vrat (व्रत) for all the nine days and have only a single meal during the day. Some of the devotees don’t even have food other than milk and fruits during these nine days. In fact, even those who have a single meal, they too eat traditional specific diet for Navratri made with sago, potato and other such things. Instead of common salt, they make navratri food withsendha namak or rock salt. People, even those who do not fast, abstain from non-vegetarian food, alcohol etc.
As far as rituals and ways of doing Sharad Navratri Puja is concerned, there is a set pattern for every day which is almost similar to Chaitra Navratri. On the first day, a ghat (घट) or kalash (कलश) meaning metal/earthen pot is established and this ritual is known as ‘Ghat Sthapana.’ The pot is filled with water, flowers, mango leaves, rice, and coconut in red cloth tied with ‘Moli,’ the red sacred thread. This is believed to invoke Goddess Durga. A clay pot, filled with soil and barley seeds sown into it, is also kept at the place of worship along with the idol or picture of the Goddess Durga. The seeds are watered each day during the nine days of Navaratri while worshipping the Goddess. On the ninth day, a few barley sprouts are offered to the Goddess and the rest are placed under a ‘Peepal’ tree. Each day fresh flowers and fruits are offered to the Goddess Parvati and Durga aarati and bhajans are recited.
Navratri Festival of Gujarat
Navratri is one of the major festivals of Hindus celebrated all over India in different forms. It is celebrated as Durga Puja in Bengal and the rest of east India, as Dusshera in north and west India and as Golu in south India when Navratri Golu dolls (predominantly of mythological Gods and Goddesses) are exhibited in homes of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. However, whenever the term ‘Navratri’ is used, one naturally relates it with the Navratri festival of Gujarat and the grand Dandiya Raas and Garba dances organized in each and every corner of all the cities of Gujarat, main being the most famous city of Ahmedabad. Nowadays, Mumbai too witnesses a similar type of enthusiasm and grandeur of Dandiya Raas programmes during Navratri.
After the Puja of Goddess Durga in the evening, people dressed in bright traditional Gujarati dresses perform the folk dances of Gujarat, especially Garba, Raas and Dandiya dances. It is the major social and community event when all the people of all ages, genders, communities etc. come together and become a part of the extravagant events organized at street corners, residential colonies, clubs, colleges and other places. Bhavai- a unique folk dance drama of Gujarat is performed by male artists for an exclusive female audience across villages of Gujarat. The exuberant women in cities, villages and towns dressed in colourful chaniya choli sets make the atmosphere more and more lively and full of energy. Men too compete in looks with them in their traditional Gujarati attire. Nowadays, bands and musical groups compose special navratri songs keeping in with the modern trendy music in mind and the young and old, all dance to these navratri songs displaying a very energetic, colorful and soulful culture of Gujarat.