Navratri is one of the greatest festivals of India which displays massive devotion, fun and invigoration.
From the mega city of Kolkata in the East to Ahmedabad in the West of the country, the nine days are celebrated with delight and dedication. It is a festival dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine forms.
The two words Nav (nine) and Ratri (night) when combined signify that it is a festival of night rather than the customary festival of the day. It marks the end of monsoon and the festivities begin from the first day of the bright fortnight of Ashwin , the month of rejuvenation in the Indian calendar.
The nine nights are divided into three sets of three nights each. The first three days are dedicated to the worship of Durga, the goddess of Power (shakti).
The next three days are meant for the worship of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. And in the last three days, Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge is worshipped.
India is a diverse country and each state and region has its unique style of celebrations.
Western India, particularly Gujarat and Maharashtra, have nine nights of revelry. Traditional dances Garba and Dandiya Raas are performed and prayers offered to the goddess. Girls and women in these states wear traditional Indian folk-wear called Chaniya-choli and kedia .
Hand-made jewellery with filigree is highlight of the celebrations. Jewellery designs vary from vintage and antique to ethnic and flashy. Stone-studded, engraved and electro-plated designs on gold and silver still hold the magical charm as they did centuries ago.
Businesspersons start new ventures as this nine-day span is auspicious.
In East India, big pandals are set up and people socialize by visiting each other. Also pandal competitions that include decoration, idol size and cultural programmes are organized during this period.
In the northern part of India, the hill-folk of Himachal Pradesh celebrate this festival by taking out huge processions of village deities. Punjab, being a leading state in agriculture, the festival is predominantly linked with harvest.
Similarly, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the South, women play an important role. They arrange Bommala Koluvu , a special display of dolls in various costumes decorated with flowers and ornaments. Mysore witnesses a procession of decorated elephants travelling through the entire city. The royal deity of Mysore called Chamundi is worshipped with immense fervour and devotion.
In many parts of India, mostly people of the yester generation, observe fast for the first seven days. The fast is broken on the eighth day by worshipping young unmarried girls who are believed to be representations of the goddess herself.
The unity-in-diversity of India is brought out to the foremost by such festivals which strengthen the social fabric of the country by threads of religion, dedication and talent displayed by men and women across cross-sections of the society.