September 08, 2022
CM Content Team
Navratri, a vibrant and spiritually significant festival in India, is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm across the country. Navratri in 2023 will begin from 15th October and will end on 24th October. This nine-night festival is dedicated to Goddess Durga, who represents divine femininity and the triumph of good over evil. Navratri is observed in various unique and culturally diverse ways in different regions of India, reflecting the rich tapestry of traditions and customs that define our nation's cultural mosaic.
In this blog, we will uncover the fascinating tapestry of Navratri celebrations that unfold across the length and breadth of India, offering a unique glimpse into the cultural richness and diversity of this incredible country. Whether you're a traveller seeking to immerse yourself in local traditions or simply curious about the festivities, this blog will be your guide to understanding how Navratri brings India alive with joy, devotion, and a celebration of life.
Let us look at how Navratri celebrations in India vary in different regions.
How is Navratri Celebrated in North India
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 symbolizes 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, people do many pujas at home and temples, and honor 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 gifts could be sweets, clothes, or household items.
In some parts, families invite the young girls in the neighborhood to their homes on the eighth and ninth day, wash their feet, give them sweets and offer them gifts or money. This ritual symbolizes the entering of the Goddess herself to their homes in the form of a young girl, and they are revered as Goddesses.
Fasting is a common practice during Navratri in north India. Many individuals choose to abstain from grains, onion, garlic, and specific foods as part of their devotion. Instead, they consume fruits, milk, and special fasting recipes like sabudana khichdi and dishes made from buckwheat flour (kuttu ka atta). Fasting is seen as a means to purify the body and mind during this auspicious period.
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 symbolizes 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 bamboo sticks that make a sweet woody sound when the sticks are 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 fervor 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, , like:
In Tamil Nadu, Navratri celebration 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.
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