How Is Navratri Celebrated in Different Parts of India?
In India, diversity thrives. Language, food, culture, and even the dressing sense vary from one region to another. It is no surprise then that our way of worshiping gods and festival celebrations change as per the local customs, and regions, which gives the local region a unique identity. One such fine example of this rich diversity is the Navratri celebration.
The word ‘Navratri,’ which means nav (nine), and ratri (night) in Sanskrit is one of the most popular festivals in India. It is celebrated over nine consecutive nights during the autumn, and ends on the last day with a grand celebration on Dussehra.
The Navratri celebrations in India vary in different parts of India, from state to state. However, the basic theme of the festival remains the same throughout – it celebrates the victory of good over evil. In most parts of India, Navratri celebration is dedicated to Goddess Durga. But in some south Indian states it is also dedicated to the Goddess of knowledge, Saraswathi.
Let us look how Navratri celebrations in India vary in different regions.
In northern states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, etc, Navratri is celebrated as the victory of Lord Rama over the Lanka King Ravana. One of the major highlights of the festive celebrations in the North is the burning of the Ravan’s effigies, which symbolises the victory of good over evil. This ritual is done on the 10th Day, which is known as Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra.
During the nine days, individuals do many pujas at home and temples, and honour the mother divine for all her creations, be forms of life, art, music and knowledge. It is a common custom to offer gifts to the loved ones during Navratri. The gift could be sweets, clothes, or household items.
In some parts, families invite the young girls in the neighbourhood to their homes on the eight and ninth day, wash their feet, give them sweets and offer them gifts or money. This ritual symbolises the entering of the goddess herself to their homes in the form of a young girl, and they are revered as goddesses.
In western India, Navratri is particularly famous in Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is celebrated with the traditional Garba . It is a form of dance where both men and women dress in traditional attire, and dance gracefully in a circle around a pot that contains a lamp. The word, Garba, means womb, and the pot symbolises the womb, and the lamp is a representation of life within a womb.
Another popular dance people perform during Navratri is Dandiya-Raas in which men and women dance with a small bamboo stick that makes a sweet woody sound with the sticks hitting one another. It has a very complex rhythm, and is beautiful to watch. Gujarat is one of the best places to celebrate Navratri. The celebrations and the fervour with which they perform the dance is a sight not to miss.
In eastern India, Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja. The festival is one of the major celebrations of the year in states like West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, etc. Unlike other places in India, Durga Puja celebrations in the north east happen on the last four days of Navratri, i.e., Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, and Dashami (seven, eighth, ninth and tenth day).
A highlight of the festival is the Maha Arti that happens every evening with the sound of the dhaak beats in the background, and women dancing wearing traditional Bengali attire. Also, after the puja, you can munch on the lip-smacking bhog; it is an experience that will remain etched in your memory for long.
In south Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Navratri is all about inviting friends and families over to look at the Kolu, which is essentially an exhibition of dolls and figurines. The exhibition is called by different names in different states, and languages, like:
In Tamil Nadu, Navratri celebrations is a one-day affair, which happens on the ninth day or the Navami of the festival. On this day, families do an Ayudha (weapon) Puja, where all kinds of agricultural tools, books, musical instruments, automobiles, etc, are beautifully decorated and worshipped along with worshipping Goddess Saraswathi.
In Kerala, the 10th day or the Vijaya Dashami is celebrated with great pomp. It is considered as the day of ‘vidyarambham’ where children in the families are initiated into learning.
In Karnataka, Navratri is referred to as Dasra, and the best place to celebrate Navratri in the state is Mysore. Here the festival celebration is helmed by the royal family of Mysore and the most important day is the 10th day.
Navratri is a great occasion to plan a holiday with your family or friends, and head to your favourite destination and book your stay at resorts by Club Mahindra. If you’re planning a holiday in Gujarat, stay at one of the Club Mahindra properties, where you can get a taste of the best of festival food, learn about the local rituals, etc.