Sunday, September 28, 2008

Navratri Utsav

Legends of Navratri
'Nav' means 'nine' and 'ratri' means 'night', thus, 'Navratri' means 'nine nights'. There are many legends attach to the beginning of Navratri like all Indian festivals but all of them are connected to Goddess Shakti (Hindu Mother Goddess) and her different forms. Although it is one of the most celebrated festivals of Hindu calendar, it holds special importance for Gujratis and Bengalis and one can see it in the passion and feeling of the people with which they treat in the festive behavior of the period. The first three days of Navratri are devoted to Goddess Durga (Warrior Goddess) decent in red and mounted on a lion, next three to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity) dressed in gold and mounted on an owl and finally, last three to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess Of Knowledge) dressed in creamy white and mounted on a pure white swan.Dandiya and Garba Rass are the highlights of the festival in Gujarat while farmer sow seeds and thank the Goddess for her blessing and request for better yield. In olden times, this festival was connected with the fertility of Mother Earth who feed us as her children. Sweetmeats are prepared for the celebrations and children and adults dress up in new bright-colored dresses for the night performance. With commercialization, the festival has moved on to be a social festival rather than a religious or agrarian festival. In some communities people undergo rigorous fasts during this season that lasts for the nine days of the festival, only to be opened on the tenth day of Dussehra. However, nothing dampens the spirit of the devout followers of Mother Goddess as they sing devotional songs and indulge in the gaieties of the season.

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