Monday, 7 October 2013

Navaratri (or) Dessara (or)Vijaya Dasami - A ninedays Festival


Navaratri means "nine nights". During this festival people come together for dances and feasts. The festival celebrates the female, mother aspect of God, and is dedicated to Durga, the mother goddess who triumphed over the demon Mahishasura after a nine-day battle. (It is also sometimes known as Durga Puja).

Traditions vary according to different Hindu communities, but they may include:

    Returning home to visit one's family - Durga was permitted by Shiva to see her mother for nine days in a year
    Planting nine different types of seed grain and offering the seedlings to the goddess
    Preparing elaborate feasts and designing puja thalis or aartis - decorated plates - as offerings
    On the tenth day of the festival, especially in Bengal, life-size clay idols of Durga are carried in procession and thrown into the river.

Celebrations in South India:-

The celebration of Navarathri is done by decorating houses with Golu arrangements. Golu decoration include fixing of steps also known as Padis (in odd numbers 3,5,7 and 9), upon which the idols of Gods and Goddesses are kept.

Goddess Durga is worshipped during the first three days.
Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped during the next three days
Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped during the last three days.

Celebrations in North India:-

In the northern parts of India Navaratri is celebrated as Dandiya nights, where men and women gather to celebrate through Dandiya dance forms.

Navaratri in 2013 October dates

Navaratri Day 1 – October 1, 2016 – Ghatsthapana
Navaratri Day 2 – October 2, 2016 – Chandra Darshan
Navaratri Day 3 – October 3, 2016– Sindoor Tritiya
Navaratri Day 4 – October 4, 2016 – Varad Vinayak Chaturthi and Lalit Panchami
Navaratri Day 5 – October 5, 2016 – Upang Lalita Vrat – Lalitha Panchami
Navaratri Day 6 – October 6, 2016– Saraswati Awahan in some regions
Navaratri Day 7 – October 7, 2016 – Saraswathi Puja – Maha Lakshmi Puja
Navaratri Day 8 – October 8, 2016 – Saraswathi Puja ends – Mahashtami – Annapoorna Parikrama
Navaratri Day 9 – October 9, 2016 – Saraswati Visarjan – Mahanavami
October 10, 2016 – The tenth day is celebrated as Dasara or Vijaya Dashami in some regions in North and Western Parts of India.
October 11, 2016 – Vidyarambham in Kerala. It is also marked as Vijayadasami in South India Calendars

Naivedyam (food offerings) to the Mothers during the Navaratri Fast

During Navaratri, devotees prepare sattvik offerings for the Mothers, apart from the regular food items, which include puran (a sweet made of gram and jaggery) and varan (an item made of toor-dal) in the meal. The Naivedhyam, which includes puran and varan, radiates the activated raja component and thus energy-laden, absolute Fire element frequencies, from the Universe, get attracted to it in less time. When one consumes the Naivedhyam as prasad, one benefits from the energy frequencies which are absolute Fire element oriented and, thereby,  purification of one's gross and subtle bodies takes place. The Navaratri fast is observed from the first day to the ninth day. Some devotees only observe a fast during three days i.e., a first fast during any one of the first three days and a second fast during any one of the next three and last in any one of final three days. Some devotees consume just milk and fruits during the nine days. Most devotees take a single meal during the day. Non-vegetarian food and intoxicants are totally avoided. Do note however, it's not compulsory to offer the offerings below, it's just a guide.

In South India, nine types of Naivedyam (food offerings) are offered to Mother Durga during Navaratri. In India, the nine Devi's worship differ from place to place and state to state, so the Naivedhyam (food) also differs.

We are kindly providing a list of Naivedhyams for Navaratri (as per the standard procedure):-
1. First day – Shailaputri NavaDurga is worshipped as Shree Kanaka Durga – Chalividi (fried rice), vadapappu (boiled Bengal grams), and payasam (sweet rice) naivedyam.
2. Second day – Brahmacharini NavaDurga is worshipped as Balatripura Sundari Devi – sweet boondi and chickpeas naivedyam.
3. Third day – Chandraghanta NavaDurga is worshipped as Gayatri Devi – Rava (wheat semolina) kesari and pulihora (sour rice/tamarind rice/lemon rice) naivedyam.
4. Fourth day - Kushmanda NavaDurga is worshipped as Annapurna Devi – Pongali (cooked sweet rice-dal) naivedyam.
5. Fifth day – Skanda Mata NavaDurga is worshipped as Lalitha Tripura Sundari Devi – Pulohorai/Pulihora (sour rice/tamarind rice/lemon rice) and Pesara boorelu (recipe of Green grams) naivedyam .
6. Sixth day – Katyayani NavaDurga is worshipped as Saraswati Devi – bellam Atukulu (beaten rice with jaggery), Senaga pappu (Bengal gram), and coconut are offered as naivedyam.
7. Seventh day – Kalaratri Mata is worshipped as Mahalakshmi Devi – Ksheerannam (rice boiled in milk), bellam (jaggery), and sugar are offered as naivedyam.
8. Eighth day – Mahagouri NavaDurga is worshipped as Sri Durga Devi – Garelu (Vedda) and lemon juice are offered.
9. Ninth day – Siddhidhatri NavaDurga is decorated and worshipped as Mahishasura Mardhini Devi – Chakra Pongali (pudding) is offered as naivedyam.
10. Tenth day – Durga Devi is worshipped as Sri Rajarajeshwari Devi – Pulihora and garelu are offered.

Please note that The Nine Goddesses to worship during Navaratri, the nine types of colours, and nine types of Naivedhyams (food offerings) may differ as per the particular temple’s Agama Shastra and their owned rituals. This can also change according to the nakshatra, tithi, and year.
Almost all Hindu festivals have a religious significance. Navaratri is no exception. During this festival nine forms of "Shakti" (literally meaning power) are worshipped. Shakti has been considered a female form in Hinduism. The nine female forms (the nine "Devis") worshipped during Navaratri are:

Durga, Bhadrakali, Amba or Jagadamba, Annapurna, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandi, Lalita, Bhavani, Mookambika.
In another version we see TEN forms of Shakti, called the "Dasa Mahavidya".

The days are also subdivided into 3 sets of three days:

  The first three days are devoted to Kali , the Goddess of Destruction and Restoration, wife of Shiva; it is a time of purification, a time to let go of all that is not “on purpose” for your life This is like “cleaning out your closets” to make way for new things.

The second three days are devoted to Lakshmi , the Goddess of Prosperity, wife of Vishnu; it is a time of preservation and taking care of things or acquiring what is necessary to make your life full of prosperity and fulfilment. This is like receiving the proper things you need to make your life happy.

The last three days are devoted to Saraswati , the Goddess of Wisdom, Knowledge and the Arts, wife of Brahma; it is a time of receiving Divine Guidance on how to properly use all resources sent your way. This is like making most efficient and purposeful use of everything you are given.

Shailputri :–
 Goddess Worshipped on the first day of Navratri Festival
‘Shail’ means mountains and ‘Putri’ means daughter. She is also known as Parvati or Hemavati

Shailputri is believed to be the rebirth of Sati, the daughter of Daksha and the wife of Lord Shiva. In her second birth she is Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya and later she became the consort of Shiva. This is one of the very first forms of Shakti and is closely associated with Lord Shiva.

 Brahmacharini :– 
Goddess Worshipped on the second day of Navratri Festival

Here Brahma means ‘one who constantly meditates on the Supreme Being’. Brahmacharini is highly pious and is a peaceful form or is in meditation. She is also known as Tapashcharini, Aparna and Uma. This form of Durga is related to the severe penance undertaken by Sati and Parvati in their respective births to attain Lord Shiva as husband. Some of the most important Vratas observed in different parts of India by women is based on the strict austerities followed by Brahmacharini.

Chandraghanta: –
 Goddess Worshipped on the third day of Navratri Festival
Her name Chandraghanta comes from the crescent moon worn by her on the head.

This is a terrible aspect of Goddess Shakti and is roaring in anger.

This form of Durga is completely different from earlier forms and shows when provoked she can be the terrible or malevolent.

Kushmanda – Goddess Worshipped on the fourth day of Navratri:-

The name Kushmanda consists of three words. ‘Ku’ means ‘a little’, ‘Usma’ means ‘energy’ and ‘Anda’ means ‘the cosmic egg or universe.’ She is also known as Ashtabhuja.

Goddess Shakti is very happy in this incarnation and it is believed that the eternal darkness ended when she smiled. And this led to the beginning of creation.

Skanda Mata: –
 Goddess Worshipped on the fifth day of Navratri

Skanda is one of the names of Subrahmanya or Lord Muruga or Kartik – the General of the Army of the Devas and the most handsome God. Skanda Mata is the mother of Kartik. She is also known as Padmasana.

This the motherly form of Durga and she is benevolent.

Katyayani: –
 Goddess Worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri
She is called Katyayani because she was born as the daughter of Sage Katya of Katya clan. This is the daughter form of Durga. Here is she a loving daughter. She is epitome of love but won’t hesitate to rise up in anger to defend righteousness and Dharma.

Kalaratri: – 
Goddess Worshipped on the seventh day of Navratri.
Kalaratri is the one who destroys ignorance and removes darkness. She is also known as Shubhamkari.

In this form she is believed to have licked the blood of demon Rakta Beeja who had the capacity to bring out thousand demons from a drop of blood spilt from his body. This is the most violent form of Durga. This form primarily depicts that life also has dark side – the violent Mother Nature and creates havoc and removes all dirt.

Mahagauri: – 
 Goddess Worshipped on the eighth day of Navratri

Mahagauri means one clean and bright like a ray of lightning.

This is the form of Mata Parvati when she did penance to get Shiva as her husband. It is believed that due to the intense Tapas performed by her without moving caused soil and dust to collect on her body. Lord Shiva cleaned her with water from Ganga. Purity is depicted in this form of Durga.

Goddess Worshipped on the ninth day of Navratri
In this form Mother Goddess provides ‘Siddhi’ or knowledge.

In this form Durga removes ignorance and she provides the knowledge to realize That or Brahman. She is surrounded by Siddhas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Demons and Gods who are worshipping her. The Siddhi that she provides is the realization that everything is Supreme Being or Brahman.

All three aspects, in balance, are important for a fulfilling and happy life.

In Chamunda Tantra we find these ten names as follows:-

    Kali Tara Mahavidya Shorashi Bhuveneshwari
    Bhairavi Chinnamasta cha Vidya Dhumavati tatha
    Vagala Sidhdhavidya cha Matangi Kamalatmika
    Ete dus mahavidya sidhdhavidya prakirtita.

(Kali, Tara, Mahavidya, Shorashi, Bhuveneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Vagala, Matangi and Kamala are the ten mahavidyas).
The "Brihat Dharma Purana" descibes the mythology of how these ten "figures" appeared. According to this mythology, Sati, wife of Lord Shiva, wanted to go to her father's house, because her father, Daksha, was organizing a huge "yagya" (fire sacrifice). However, Daksha had not invited Lord Shiva to go and attend, so Shiva advised Sati not to go there. This angered Sati so much that fire emitted from her third eye, and she changed into Kali, a dark skinned Devi. Scared Shiva also saw these ten forms at that time.

Origins and Religious:-

It is difficult to say how old the custom of Navaratri is or where exactly it began. Some believe that it is an ancient harvest or fertility festival. Many of the ancient religious festivals were related not only to the sun and moon, but also to the position of the stars. Navaratri, like all holidays and rites of passage, is determined by Indian astrology. The position of the constellations at the time of Navaratri are closely related to the basic story that is at the heart of the celebration, the tale of Durga, a fierce form of the Divine Mother who rides a lion and conquers the evil Mahisasura, who takes the form of a buffalo bull. Like the positions of the stars in the sky, she is often depicted atop the buffalo demon as she slays him.

The concept of a divine feminine aspect of god goes back as far as human documents and memory exist. In India, the four Vedas-considered to be the oldest books on the planet, which make references to events as distant as 6000 BCE-include feminine aspects of the divine forces of the universe in their songs and prayers. The ancient rishis or saints, who Hindus believe were divinely inspired and able to intuit the natural energies of our cosmos through meditation, speak of Usha, Ila, and Saraswati, all Divine Mother forces. However, it is not until the time of the Puranas that the Divine Mother became a force against evil. The Puranas are a collection of 18 Hindu religious scriptures that were written between c. 400-1000 BCE, which contain stories of creation, destruction, and recreation of the universe, the genealogy of the gods and a number of parables.

Ayudha Puja:-

The ninth day is also the day of the Ayudha Puja. The Ayudha Puja is a worship of whatever implements one may use in one's livelihood. On the preceding evening, it is traditional to place these implements on an altar to the Divine. If one can make a conscious effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses each day, it will help one to see one's work as
an offering to God. It will also help one to maintain constant remembrance of the divine. (In India it is customary for one to prostrate before the tools one will use before starting one's work each day; this is an expression of gratitude to God for helping one to fulfil one's duties.) This is also a day of rest for the machines or tools. Children traditionally place their study books and writing implements on the altar. On this day, no work or study is done, that one might spend the day in contemplation of the Divine.


Hindus consider knowledge to be sacred and consider knowledge to be bestowed by Goddess Saraswati. The ceremony of Vidyarambham (Vidya means "knowledge" , arambham means "beginning') for the children is held on Vijayadashami (the last day of Navaratri) day. Initiation into the world of alphabets usually begins with the writing of the
mantra "Om hari sri ganapataye namah" Hari refers to the Lord, sri, to prosperity. Initially, the mantra is written on sand or in a tray of rice grains. Then, the master/teacher/elder would write the mantra on the child's tongue with gold. Writing on sand denotes practice. Writing on grains denotes the acquisition of knowledge, which leads to prosperity. Writing on the tongue with gold invokes the grace of the Goddess of Learning, by which one attains the wealth of true knowledge.

Dandiya Raas:-

The colorful sticks, used as prop of Dandiya Raas, are usually made of bamboo. This is the reason why it is also known as 'stick dance'. The circular movements of Dandiya Raas to some extent are very complex, which can be done only with skill in the art form. The dancers strike the sticks with their partners and dance in circular motion, to the rhythm of the music played in the background. A large number of people are involved in Dandiya Raas and two circles are formed by the dancers.

Out of the two circles made to perform Dandiya Raas, one of the circles revolves clockwise, while the other revolves anti clockwise. The dance is a very lively, active and fast paced art form, thus leaving no scope for laziness. There is an instrumentalist, playing a 'meddale' drum, who accompanies the dancers. The person stands in the center of the two circles and leads the dancers with his beats. The dancers spin and move their feet and arms in a choreographed manner to the tune of the music, with lots of drum beats. Dandiya Raas in Navratri is a mesmerizing thing to watch as well as to participate in. 

Bommala Koluvu:-
Bommala Koluvu is an integral part of Dussehra celebrations by Telugu people and Several dolls of animals and birds, as also figurines depicting tribal and village life, their festivals and culture, are displayed in the telugu houses in Berhampur  with dazzling lights.

When people come to a person’s house to see the Kolu, usually they are given prasad (the offering given to God that day), kumkum and a small bag of gifts. These are only given to girls and married women. In the evenings, a “kuthuvilakku” (small lamp) is lit, in the middle of a decorated “kolam”(Rangoli), before the Kolu and devotional hymns and shlokas are chanted. After performing the puja, the food items that have been prepared are offered to the goddesses.

Celebrations in South India:-

The celebration of Navarathri is done by decorating houses with Golu arrangements. Golu decoration include fixing of steps also known as Padis (in odd numbers 3,5,7 and 9), upon which the idols of Gods and Goddesses are kept.

Goddess Durga is worshipped during the first three days.
Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped during the next three days
Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped during the last three days.

Andhra Pradesh:-

There is a very special festival that celebrated by Telangana people only is called Bathukamma pandaga, it comes before Dasara. It starts before 10 days of dasara. The Women and Children make  bathukamma with lot of flowers and put them around in their varandas and play the songs by rounding those bathukammas. People celebrate this festival 9 days. On the sixth day (arrem), for instance, a call is given to herald the end of the festivities. On that day, there is a break of sorts and a bar on playful activities.

Tamil Nadu:-

This Dravidian state adds a religious touch to the celebrations by dedicating the nine special nights to Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. 

Women belonging to the Iyer community invite married women to their homes in the evenings and gift them with accessories like bangles, earrings and other items that are symbolic of their marital status. These are suggestive of prayers for their husbands and their long lives. A coconut, beetle leaves and beetle nuts, and money are also given as gifts to these women. A special recipe called ‘Sundal’ made of lentil seeds and pulses is made on each day and served to the guests. Some people also display a `Golu` at their homes. `Golu` is an arrangement made on a make-shift staircase with nine stairs. Each stair symbolizes each day of Navratri. Decorative items, idols of Gods and Goddesses are placed on the stairs. In most cases, the dolls that are used for the ‘Golu’ are handed over from generation to generation. 


Karnataka will be celebrating its 403rd Navratri this year. Karnataka’s way of celebrating Navratri dates back to the times of Raja Wodeyar in the 1610. The way people spend these nine nights are absolutely historic in nature, for they follow the same trend which was followed by the great Vijayanagara dynasty. It’s called `Naada Habba’ in the state. However, the basic reason for the celebrations remains the same - victory of Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasur, who happened to be a resident of Mysore. The celebrations include procession of elephants on the streets. Fairs and exhibitions of handicrafts and artifacts are common feature.


Unlike Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Kerala celebrates only the last three days of Navratri. Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashmi are of utmost importance for the Keralites. This South Indian state that tops the literacy rate in the country, considers these three days as the most auspicious time to initiate learning. They place books, musical instruments (if any) in front of Goddess Saraswati’s idol on the day of Ashtami. The books are worshipped and people pray to the Goddess for granting them wisdom and knowledge. On the tenth day, the books are taken out for reading.

Celebrations in North India:-

In the northern parts of India Navaratri is celebrated as Dandiya nights, where men and women gather to celebrate through Dandiya dance forms.

After the worship of the Goddess Durga in the evening, traditional dance like Garba and Dandiya are held at night. Around a central lighted lamp men and women wearing traditional costumes dance in a circle to the accompaniment of devotional songs. Dandia is performed with a stick held in each hand which is struck against the stick of the partner. The dance goes on till the wee hours of the morning. Each locality makes arrangement for these celebrations and rituals.

Himachal Pradesh:-

The beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh celebrates Navratri with utmost devotion. Navratri is a time when people meet up with their relatives to collectively pay their respect to the Almighty. It is the most important festival for the Hindus of Himachal. The tenth day of this grand festive season is called Kullu Dusshera in the state. Unlike other states, the festival begins in Himachal when it ends elsewhere. People mark this day to rejoice the return of victorious Lord Rama to Ayodhya. Songs and dance are common ways to express devotion and exhibitions of various items are set-up. On Dusshera or Dashami, the deities from the temples of the village are taken out in processions.

In Bangladesh, which shares a common Hindu heritage with West Bengal,numerous pandals also crowd the cities. The Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad, a Hindu organization, counted more than 20,000 pandals nationwide in 2007. Durga Puja is an national holiday. The president of Bangladesh, Iajuddin Ahmed,recently stated, "Though it is a festival of the Hindu religion, Durga Puja is an indivisible part of our Bengali culture." Bangladeshi Rabindranath Trivedi, former press secretary to the government, puts it more poetically: "Devi Durga represents the eternal victory over ugliness and terror, and out of it the lotus of beauty arises."Unfortunately, attacks on these celebrations by Muslim radicals are not uncommon. 

In Orissa, the celebrations have grown more similar to those in neighboring West Bengal, due to an influx of migrants from the neighboring state. Historically, the Goddess is profoundly revered by native Oriyas. The capital, Cuttack, has a very old temple in the heart of the city, the Ma Katak Chandi temple. Most devotees make a point of visiting this temple during the festival. Recently, Bengal-style pandals have become popular in Orissa, too, and in grand style. One, a silver-ornamented pandal known as chandi merha (silver home), has dazzled countless devotees. It has been improved and gold plated, changing its name to suna merha (golden home). 

 Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir used to celebrate in more pomp, but the region's insurgency has forced the festival indoors, where it has become quiet and focused on the family. Adult members of the household are expected to fast on water and take fruits in the evenings. As elsewhere, Kashmiris grow barley in an earthen pot and watch expectantly, as an augur for the coming year's crops. The most important ritual for those near Srinagar is to visit the temple of guardian Goddess Kheer Bhawani on all nine days. 

In Punjab, Navaratri's disciplines are strictly followed by most of the population.Although few Punjabis are vegetarian, alcohol, meat and some forms of entertainment are completely avoided at this time. Following the fast, on the last day, devotees feed beggars and follow the tradition of worshiping a young girlrepresenting Shakti.
Navratri is celebrated in Punjab by fasting for seven days. On the eighth day or Ashtami, the fast is broken by worshipping young girls who are believed to symbolize the Goddess herself. This festival is predominantly linked with harvest. The young girls are offered puris (sort of deep-fried Indian bread), halwa (a dessert primarily made of flour and sugar), chanas (Bengal gram) and red chunnis (long scarves).


In Maharashtra, celebrations are slightly different. Navratri is dedicated to Goddess Durga while the Vijayadashami is dedicated to Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. Here, this day is considered auspicious to start education, buy new homes, and start new ventures.For the Maharashtrians, Navratri is an auspicious time to initiate new beginnings, buying a new home or a car. Women invite their female friends to their homes and gift them with a coconut, beetle leaves and beetle nuts. They put haldi and kumkum on the foreheads of the married women as a gesture of `Saumangalyam` (remaining the wife of her husband until her last breath). The Navratri celebrations in Maharashtra, especially in Mumbai, bear resemblance to Gujarat owing to its geographical proximity to the state. Each and every locality has its own garba and dandiya nights celebrations and the whole family drenches itself in the festive spirit