Navratri is a nine-day Hindu festival that is celebrated in India every year to worship Goddess Durga. Navratri literally means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit; ‘Nav’- nine and ‘Ratri’- nights. It is one of the most sacred festivals for Hindus that primarily symbolizes the victory of good over evil. During these nine nights and ten days, Devi/Shakti, that is, female divinity is worshipped with great reverence, which represents the energy of the universe, in her 9 beautiful forms.
This year, according to the Lunar calendar which is followed in Hinduism, Navratri will be celebrated from Thursday, 21st September to Friday, 29th September, with the tenth day being Vijayadashami or Dussehra.
Nine different forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped and invoked during each of these nine days. One of the most followed traditions during Navratri, especially in states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, is that the devotees wear different colours of clothes for nine days, each colour honouring one form of Goddess Durga. The colour scheme changes every year based on the weekday when the festival begins. This year, the nine different colours for the nine avatars or forms to be worn on each day of Navratri are:
- 21st- Yellow for Goddess Shailputri
- 22nd- Green for Goddess Brahmacharini
- 23rd- Grey for Goddess Chandraghanta
- 24th- Orange for Goddess Kushmanda
- 25th- White for Goddess Skanda Mata
- 26th- Red for Goddess Katyayani
- 27th- Royal Blue for Goddess Kalaratri
- 28th- Pink for Goddess Mahagauri
- 29th- Purple for Goddess Mahishasurmardini
Since India is such a diverse nation, Navratri is celebrated differently in each part of the country. Here is a look at how it is celebrated in each region:
- North India-
In Delhi, Navratri celebrations are characterised by the Ramlila plays that take place over the city. Ramlila plays symbolize the victory of King Rama over the demon Ravana. Huge effigies of the demon Ravana are burned on Dussehra because, according to Hindu mythology, in the Ramayana, Rama prayed to Goddess Durga at the beginning of Navratri, to grant him the power to slay Ravana. This power was granted to him on the eighth day and Ravana was defeated on the occasion that we celebrate today- Vijayadashami or Dussehra. In Punjab, jagrans take place every night, where devotees gather to sing religious songs.
- South India-
In South India, the three forms of Goddess Shakti are worshipped. Goddess Durga is worshipped for the first three days of Navratri, followed by Goddess Lakshmi for the next three days and ending with Goddess Saraswati on the final three days of Navratri. In Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Navratri is celebrated as Golu, a ritual in which nine makeshift stairs representing the nine nights are built in homes. Each stair is decorated with beautiful dolls, and idols of gods and goddesses. It is said that these dolls are handed over from generation to generation.
- East India-
In the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Assam and Bihar, Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja and it is observed in the last four days of Navratri. These days are referred to as Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami. The festival celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. In Kolkata, Durga Puja is the main festival where one can see huge Durga idols being worshipped with great fervour. On the last day, they are immersed into the water which is called visarjan.
- West India-
In the West, especially in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, flamboyant Navratri celebrations take place. For people living in Maharashtra, Navratri signifies new beginnings, hence it is considered the best time for buying property or making business deals. A typical ritual performed during this time is that married women invite their married friends over; they apply haldi and kumkum on their forehead and exchange gifts. In Gujarat, Navratri is a dance festival. During these nine nights, people in Gujarat wear colourful clothes and play the traditional dances Garba and Dandiya. This dance is played in Maharashtra as well.
In Mumbai, the best places to play Garba and Dandiya this year are:
- Ruparel Navratri Utsav with Falguni Pathak-
Location: Late Shri Pramod Mahajan Sports Complex, Borivali
Price: Rs. 700/day, Rs.4000/season
- Radiance Dandiya
Location: Sahara Star, near Domestic Airport, Santacruz East.
- Rangilo Re-
Location: Nesco Center, Goregaon
Price: Rs.250/day, Rs.2000/season
- Rajmahal’s Silent Garba (with headphones)-
Location: Rajmahal Banquets, Malad
Price: Rs. 1500/day
- Korakendra Navratri-
Location: Korakendra Ground-2, Borivali West
Price: Rs 360 onwards
The idols of Goddess Durga are put up in pandals in different parts of the city. Some of the popular pandals in Mumbai are:
- The Bengal Club, Shivaji Park:
It is one of the oldest Durga Puja in Mumbai that focuses more on tradition and less on grandeur. This pandal sets up authentic Bengali food and clothes stalls.
Location: Bengal Club, Veer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Dadar West
Bengal Club, Dadar West
- Balkanji Bari (Mukherjees):
The Balkanji Bari puja hosts cultural programmes during the 5-day festival with participation from the Bollywood fraternity.
Location: Hotel Tulip Star, VM Road, Juhu
- Lokhandwala Durgotsav:
This Durga pandal is known for its extravagant setting, celebrity spotting, cultural programs and food stalls.
Location: Lokhandwala Durga Puja Ground, Andheri West
Lokhandwala Gardens, Andheri West
- Powai Sarvajanin Durgotsav:
This pandal is famous for its different themes, Dhunuchi Dance competition and performances by famous Bollywood singers.
Location: Hiranandani Gardens, Powai
- Chembur Durga Puja Association:
This association is celebrating Durga Puja for more than 60 years now, started in 1954. Aarti, bhog and cultural programs are organised during the festival.
Location: Chembur High School Ground, Swami Vivekananda Chowk, Chembur Naka
The nine days of Navratri are considered to be highly auspicious, which all Goddess Durga devotees enjoy with enthusiasm. It is an important festival since it imparts a very strong message- truth always triumphs over evil.