8-16 APR 2016 VASANT NAVRATRI

Navratri Puja

Pratipada –Navratri 1st Day –RedDwitiya –Navratri 2nd Day –Royal BlueTritiya –Navratri 3rd Day –YellowChaturthi –Navratri 4th Day –GreenPanchami –Navratri 5th Day –GreySashti –Navratri 6th Day –OrangeSaptami –Navratri 7th Day –WhiteAshtami –Navratri 8th Day –PinkNavami / Vijayadasami –Navratri 9th Day –Sky Blue

Navratri PujaNavratri Puja – Navratri is held twice a year, once in the auspicious time of Chaitra shukla paksha called ‘Vasant Navratri’ and another during the Ashwin month falling in September/October, called ‘Sharad Navratri’. This nine-day period is astrologically a powerful period to propitiate planets and invoke Ma Shakti with Navratri Pooja. Ma Shakti is considered to be the driving force behind the natural order of things in the universe.

Significance of Navratri Pooja
Puja is a significant aspect of the widely celebrated Navratri festival. During this period, Ma Durga is considered ‘jagrit’ or alive and must be worshipped ritualistically. As the earnest seeker sets out to let the enlightening divine energy penetrate his soul, he must also know the correct way of fasting and performing puja. Navratri Pooja is a powerful method of attaining this divine calmness and knowledge. Navratri Puja carried out in a ritualistic way pleases Maa Durga, who is propitiated in her aspects as Ma Lakshmi and Ma Saraswati through the nine-night period. Navratri puja not just creates an aura of purity in the house; it also raises energies and dispels our base tendencies.

Navratri Puja at Home

The most characteristic feature of Navratri puja is its simplicity. The procedures of Navratri Pooja at home are carried out step by step and each ritual has its own importance. All the ingredients used in puja and making ‘prasad’ are required to be pure. The puja area must be clean and of a higher vibration. Since there are various types of puja associated with Ma Durga, Ma Lakshmi and Ma Saraswati, some devotees stick to the basic Navratri puja rituals and chantings. Some choose to do elaborate puja with havan and recital from texts such as Durga Saptashati, Sahasranam and Devi Mahatmya.During the period, the first three initial days are dedicated to the invocation of Ma Durga, the next three to Ma Lakshmi and the next three to Ma Saraswati. However, ‘Maha Ashtami’ and ‘Maha Navami ‘are considered especially important days for performing pujas. The very auspicious ‘Sandhi puja’ is carried out when ‘Ashtami tithi’ ends and ‘Navami tithi’ begins. The puja is conducted with several powerful chantings. On the ninth day or ‘Navami’, ‘Kumari’ puja is observed. This puja is performed by a fasting devotee ritualistically and with a lot of enthusiasm. It comprises traditional puja wherein nine ‘kumaris’ or pre-pubescent girls are revered as representing the nine forms of Ma Durga. The devotees wash their feet, and then proceed to serve them a meal consisting of ‘puris’, ‘chana’ and ‘halwa’. Finally, the nine girls are entreated to shower blessings on the devotee/s and given utensils, money and handkerchief or ‘chunri’ as ‘dakshina’ with full respect.

Even if one cannot observe the fast, one can recite mantra, sing hymns, participate in kirtans, listen to verse recitals and offer prayers.

Navaratri Puja Vidhi

Take a bath in the morning and adorn fresh clothes. Seat the idol or a framed picture of Ma Durga in the hallowed area of your puja room. Place a fresh marigold garland around the idol/picture and offer rice covered in roli/turmeric, ‘sindoor’, ‘belpatra’ and red flowers ceremoniously. First, sow jowar seeds in a clay pot with mud taken from an auspicious place. Next, enshrine the kalash by performing the ‘kalashsthapna’ ritual. Fill the ‘kalash’ with water from a pure water source, put coins and betel nuts, add place mango leaves along with a coconut wrapped in red cloth on top. Tie a ‘moli’/red thread around the kalash. The coconut should be placed on the mouth of the kalash. Next, pray to Goddess Durga to abide in it for nine days. Show ‘diya’ to kalash and deities and light ‘dhoop’ and incense. Sprinkle holy water from a ‘panchpatra’. Light a ‘jyoti’ by burning a coal in a clay dish, placing a ‘peda’ and adding ghee at intervals to keep it lit throughout the entire puja ritual. Next, light a bunch of incense sticks, dhoop and ‘diya’. Invoke the Goddesses’ name by reciting ‘Durga Stuti’ and ‘Durga Kavach’. Perform ‘aarti’ with songs glorifying Maa Durga, Maa Laxmi and Maa Saraswati. Next, offer ‘prasad’ or ‘bhog’ of homemade Navratri recipes along with fruits and sweets. Distribute it among the family members and those present during the puja.

  • The kalash should not be touched for the entire nine day period.
  • Jyot should be lit through the entire puja ritual.
  • Sanskrit hymns should be recited with the right pronunciation and intonation.
  • The garland placed around the idol should be changed every day.
  • A mat should be used for sitting in a straight posture to perform the puja.

Navratri Puja Samagri
Keeping the complete stock of puja samagri is an important part of performing the Navratri pooja. Some of the items required to carry out the Navratri Puja procedure include mango leaves, coconut, sandalwood paste, turmeric, red cloth, roli, moli, chawal (rice), paan, supari , cloves, cardamom, kumkum (vermilion) and rice covered in kumkum, rose petals, coins. ‘Dhoop’, ‘diya’ and incense sticks are required. Typical flowers for Navratri puja are rose petals, red hibiscus along with bael leaves. Besides coal, ghee and readily available havan ingredients are also required.

History of Navratri

History of NavratriAmongst the legion of Hindu festivals, Navratri is among the most symbolically significant one. The festival is also representative of the overwhelming devotion to the most powerful female energy in the venerable form of Ma Durga. A nine day-long festival that venerates different manifestations of Ma Shakti or Durga, Navratri upholds the predominantly moralistic theme of religious Hindu festivals. In particular, it helps the devotee to realize his Satvik qualities and ensures a path towards liberation. The puja rituals and historical associations have emerged from the Hindu scriptures, especially the Markandeya Purana and Skanda Purana.

History and Origin of Navratri

Different legends are prevalent in certain regions. They are discussed below.

North India
The most prevalent legend is the story of Mahishasura, the buffalo-headed demon king, who pleased Lord Shiva and was granted the boon that he would be invincible and undefeatable by any man. But soon, Mahishasura set out on a rampage killing people for no reason and even driving out the deva out of ‘swarglok’. The Gods implored Lord Shiva, to protect the people. Thus, the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva invested their powers in energy that took the form of Goddess Durga to conquer the demon Mahishasura. The ‘devas’ also offered her their distinct weapons such as the axe and the sword. Mahishasura was taken in by Goddess Durga’s beauty and approached her for matrimony. The Goddess agreed but set forth a challenge that he defeat her in a battle. The battle lasted for nine nights and on the ninth night, Goddess Durga beheaded Mahishasura. The nine nights came to be known as Navratri, while the tenth day was called Vijayadashmi, the final day when truth and goodness prevailed over evil.

East India legend
This is related to the famous legend of Sati. The king of the Himalayas, Daksha had a daughter named Uma. She wished to marry Lord Shiva and did penance to please him. When Lord Shiva came to marry her, his intimidating countenance (clothed in tiger skin with snakes around his neck) and that of the people accompanying him disconcerted Daksha. Later, when he organized a grand-scale ‘yagna’, he deliberately refrained from inviting his daughter and son-in-law. Realizing the magnitude of the insult, Uma immolated herself in the ‘agnikund’.

Shiva became furious and did Tandava dance with Uma on his shoulder. The dance unleashed the forces of destruction, enough to threaten nature’s balance. To end Shiva’s destructive anger, Narayana cut Uma’s body and the different parts of her charred body fell in different parts of the country and the world. The places where the parts fell are worshipped today as ‘Shakti Peeths’ and she came to be known as Sati. Brahma reassured Shiva that Uma will take re-birth and unite with Lord Shiva as his consort. In her reincarnation, she fulfilled her destiny. Hence, Navratri is celebrated as the homecoming of Uma with Ganesh, Kartik, Saraswati and Lakshmi along with companions Jaya and Bijaya during Sharad Ritu.

The lotus legend of Ram and Ravana
As per the epic Ramayana, at the behest of Narada Muni, Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in her nine aspects to earn the blessings of Ma Shakti to defeat Ravana, the powerful king of Lanka who had abducted Sita. He continued his puja for nine days and nights with lotuses. He was short of one lotus and thought of offering his eye to overcome the shortfall, when Ma Durga appeared before him, urging him not to make the sacrifice and blessed him. On the tenth day, Lord Rama was successful in killing Ravana. The nine days are observed ritualistically as Navratri by devotees and the tenth day is celebrated as ‘Vijayadashmi’ or ‘Dussehra’, when good triumphed over evil.

Apart from the eternal message of good over evil, virtue over misdeed, Navratri also has strong fertility associations. Ma Shakti is worshipped as the giver and one who nourishes all her children.

How to Celebrate Navratri

How to Celebrate NavratriHow to Celebrate Navratri – The fanfare associated with Navratri celebration has a distinct flavour. While very few Hindu festivals can match the scale and fervor of Navratri, this nine nights festival singularly opens you up to new festive experiences. While puja and fasting rituals mark the day, the evenings are for exulting in the dancing thrills.

Marking the onset of summer, Chaitra Navratri is held in March/April while Sharad Navratri, which is the more popular one, is held in September/October. During this festival, Ma Shakti is invoked in all of her nine forms or incarnations. She is also known as ‘Amba’, ‘Annapurna’, ‘Drakali’, ‘Sarvamangala’, ‘Bhairavi’, ‘Chandi’, ‘Lalita’, ‘Bhavani’ and ‘Mookambika’. Broadly, the nine days are dedicated to venerating Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati to seek divine grace, knowledge and power. The tenth day or ‘Vijayadashami’ is celebrated to establish the importance of goodness with joyous participation. This nine nights festival is very holistic in approach, as fasting for spiritual cleansing is well-complemented by participation in chants, songs and dance.

Celebrating Navratri Festival

Although Navratri festival celebration involves some strict rules, some practices are quite flexible in nature. Some of the practices in celebrating Navratri festival are:

  • Sustaining only on fruits and milk for the entire fasting period.
  • Involving yourself in prayer or ‘prarthana’ and long meditation sessions.
  • Keeping awake all night and participating in ‘bhajans’ along with family members.
  • Keeping the mind focused on spiritual activities by reading ‘Durga Shaptashati’ and listening to ‘vrat katha’ or stories/episodes relating to the nine forms of Ma Durga.
  • Wearing different colors each day to honour Ma Durga’s nine forms, such as red on the first day.
  • Tying a garland of fresh flowers every day to the idol/photograph of Maa Durga.
  • Doing charity which includes donating food to the needy.
  • Thinking pure thoughts during the auspicious period. Eating only one meal a day, a vegetarian preparation without onion and garlic.
  • Lighting ‘Akhand Jyot’ or a constantly burning ‘oil lamp’ in front of Goddess Durga’s idol or picture for the entire period.
  • Planting nine varieties of food grains to appease the nine planets.
  • Performing ‘arti’ in front of the idol/photograph of Ma Durga.
  • Abstaining from wearing leather shoes, shaving, paring nails or cutting hair during this period.
  • Avoiding wearing black colored clothes.
  • Inviting married women and seeing them off with auspicious betel nuts and coconut.
  • Honoring Durga Ma’s nine forms by worshipping nine girls and preparing special meal for them.
  • Coinciding the day of starting new ventures or new purchases with Ashtami (eighth day)/Navami(ninth day).
  • Choosing to fast only on the first, fourth and seventh day of Navratri festival.

Besides the above, a devotee can choose to not continue fasting during Navratri if for some reason he/she is not able to do so.

Navratri Mantra

 

‘Mantras’ in Hindu religious practice denote vibration which has the power to align the chakras in the human body. A mantra can be a syllable or a group of words that has spiritual power. These mantras help the human mind to evolve into a higher level of consciousness.

During Navratra, Ma Shakti or the dynamic energy is invoked through mantra ‘japa’ or repetition of the mantra. The practice of mantra recitation originated in ancient times wherein a ‘mool mantra’ was given to the initiated. However, during Navratri, devotees repeat the universal Navratri mantra for the invocation of Ma Durga, which is ‘Aim hreem kleem chamundaye vichche’. Mantras for Navratri include those included in the text ‘Durga Saptashati’ which comprises verses and hymns that can be recited with intense fervour. Similarly, japa of the ‘Gayatri mantra’, supposed to be a powerful mantra, brings you closer to attaining ‘moksha’. Navratri mantra is associated with the principle of purification. However, the quantum of effect depends on the level of sincerity with which the mantra is recited. Each mantra follows a pattern of rhythm, as in the number of syllables to create a certain effect. Hence the powerful Navratri mantra has to be recited with the right intonation and with full reverence.

Mantras For Navaratri

Ya devi sarva bhutesu, shanti rupena sansitha
Ya devi sarva bhutesu, shakti rupena sansthita
Ya devi sarva bhutesu, matra rupena sansthita
Namastasyai, namastasyai, namastasyai, namo namaha!Sarva mangala maangalye shive sarvaartha saadhike
Sharanye trayambake Gauri
Narayani namosthute

Namoh devyai mahadevyai shivayai satatam namah
Namah prakrutyai bhadraayai niyataah pranataahsma taam

Annapoorne sadapoorne shankarah praanavallabhe
Njana vairaagya sidhyardham bhikshaam dehi cha parvati

Navratri Recipes – Navratri festival is as much about fasting as about maintaining a strict vegetarian diet. However, over time, the ritual of breaking the fast with a meal has taken a new turn. While milk and milk products and fruits are consumed throughout the nine day fasting period, wheat and vegetables form the staple of Navratri food. Navratri cuisine has evolved to include a great variety of dishes which are known for their appetizing taste as for their ‘sattvik’ quality. Most people who observe fast during Navratri stick to a regimen of one meal a day. These Navratri recipes are prepared with only pure ingredients such as rock salt, root vegetables like potatoes and colocasia or ‘arbi’. The ‘vrat ka khana’ during Navratri comprises delectable snacks like mathis and fries as well as sumptuous curries.

While spices such as red chillies, cumin and turmeric powder are allowed, most of these dishes are delicately spiced. It is a common practice to use ‘sendha namak’ (rock salt) as common salt cannot be used. Some of the most popular Navratri recipes are ‘Sabudana khichdi,’ ‘Sabudana Vada’, ‘Singhaade ke Pakode’, ‘Singhaade ka Halwa’, ‘Kuttu ki Puri’, ‘kuttu Pakoda’, ‘Fried Arbi’, ‘Potato Fries, ‘Kacche kele ke Kofte’ and ‘Coconut laddoos’.

Recipes for Navratri

The recipes prepared during Navratri are noted equally for their delightful taste and their nutritive value. Some delightful Navratri recipes that are easy to whip up include:

Singhare Ka Halwa/ Burfee
‘Singhare ka atta’ is a versatile ingredient that lends itself to several Navratri food preparations such as puris, pakoda, matthi and burfee. Singhare Ka Halwa is an extremely popular sweet dish garnished with dry fruits.

Kuttu Ki Puri
A staple in a Navratri ‘thali’ and is complemented by curd or boondi raita.

Sabudana Vada
This is a crunchy snack prepared with tapioca pearls and potatoes. ‘Sabudana vada’ is a great option as a filling snack during Navratri fast.

Kele Ke Kofte
This is a popular dry preparation made with balls made of raw bananas.

Sabudana Khichdi
A tasty quick-to-prepare recipe made with boiled tapioca and potatoes, it is enjoyed even by those not observing the fast.

Kale Chane
Also served as ‘prasad’, kale channe is a dry spicy preparation which can be had singly or with puris.

Lauki Ki Sabzi
This vegetable dish is prepared using the goodness of gourd which keeps the body cool.

Kele Ki Sabzi
This is a slightly tangy preparation prepared using lemon and green chillies.

Arbi Ki Kadhi
A simple curry recipe that is perfect for a healthy meal for those observing Navratri fast.

Samvat Ke Chawal
Samvat is a type of rice fried in ghee.

Makhane Ki Kheer
This is a mouth-watering sweet dish made with makhana (foxnuts) and dry fruits.

Swang Ke Chawal Ki Kheer
This is a sweet dish that has ‘swang’, a type of rice as the main ingredient.

Boondi Raita
A great accompaniment, dahi raita is made with curd and boondi made of besan.

Dal Stuffed Puri
This is a puri made with stuffing of dal, which makes it very filling as a Navratri meal.

Besides the above, there are a multitude of recipes churned out in households where Navratri is observed every year. Some major Indian desserts such as ‘payesh’, ‘sweet potato pudding’ and ‘lauki ki kheer’ are regularly prepared during the nine days of fasting. Special homemade recipes for healthy drinks include ‘thandai’, ‘badam milk’, ‘sweet lassi’ and fruit juice concoctions. Also, at this time of the year, restaurants come up with special Navratri menus. The Navratri platters comprise an assortment of snacks and savories.

Navratri Aarti – In the Hindu tradition of performing a puja, aarti marks the culmination of puja ceremony. During an aarti, a religious song is sung individually or in a group, before the idol. Navratri aarti is an important ritual as various devotees join in to collectively sing the uplifting and melodious songs. Customarily, Navratri Aarti Songs are sung with complete devotion and spiritual consciousness. Navratri Aarti raises the vibrations and purifies the atmosphere. Navratri aarti songs comprise the verses that extol the glory of Ma Durga and her nine forms. In these songs, devotees humbly express their adoration, devotion, gratitude, respect and reverence and seek the Goddesses’ divinity and blessings. Aarti on Navratri, the devotional songs and hymns are sung in praise of the Mother Goddess who combated evil assuming various forms.

Some of the Navratri aarti songs are great compositions and have been passed on through generations. Some of these songs pay homage to Ma Durga, Ma Amba or Ma Jagadamba, Ma Gauri, Ma Sarvamangala and Ma Bhavani. In this section, we have presented lyrics of best Navratri aarti songs:

Navratri Aarti – Ambe Maa Aarti

Jai Ambe Gauri Maiyaa

Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri
Nishdin tumko dhyaavat, Hari Brahmaa Shivji,
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Maang sindur biraajat, tiko mrigmadko,
Ujjvalse do naina, chandravadan niko,
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Kanak saman kalevar, raktaambar raje,
Raktapushp galmaala, kanthhaar saje,
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Kehari vaahan rajat, khadg khappar dhari
sur nar munijan sevat, tinke dukhahaari,
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Kaanan kundal shobhit, naasagre moti
Kotik chandra divaakar, samraajat jyoti,
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Shumbh- nishumbh vidaare, MahishaaSur ghatia
Dhumra-vilochan naina, nishdin madmati
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Brahmaani, Rudraani tum Kamalaa Raani,
Agam-nigam bakhaani. tum Shiv patraani,
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Chaunsath yogini gaavat, nritya karat Bhairon,
Baajat tab mridanga, aur bajat damru,
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Tum ho jag ki maataa, tum hi ho bhartaa,
Bhaktan ki dukh hartaa, sukh sampati kartaa,
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Bhujaa char ati shobhit, var mudraa dhaari,
Manvaanchhit phal paavat, sevak nar naari,
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Kanchan thaal virajat, agaru kapur baati
Malketu men rajat, kotiratan jyoti,
Jai Ambe Gauri maiyaa, jai Shyaama Gauri

Ma Jay Aadya Shakti

Mataji ni aarti.. Jaya aadhya shakti,
Maa jaya aadhya shakti,
Akhand brahmand nibhavyan (2x),
Padave pragatyan ma,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Dwitiya bay swaroop,
Shiva shakti janoo,
Maa shiva shakti janoo,
Bramha ganapati gaavun (2x),
Har gaavun har maa
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Tritiya tran swaroop,
Tribhuvan man betha,
Maa tribhuvan man betha,
Traya thaki taraveni (2x),
Tun taraveni maa,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Chote chatura mahalaxmi,
Sacharachar vyapya,
Maa sacharachar vyapya,
Char bhuja chau deesha (2x),
Pragatya dakshina maa,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Panchame pancha rushi,
Panchame goon padame,
Maa panchame goon padame,
Pancha sahast tyan sohiya (2x),
Panche tatwo maa,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Shasthi tun narayani,
Mahisasur maaryo,
Maa mahisasur maaryo,
Nar naree na roope (2x),
Vyapa saghade maa,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Saptami sapta pataal,
Sandhya saveetri,
Maa sandhya saveetri,
Gau ganga gayatree (2x),
Gauri geeta maa,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Asthami astha bhooja,
Aayee ananda,
Maa ayee ananda,
Surinar moonivar janamya (2x),
Devo daityo maa,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Navami navakul naag,
Seve navadurga,
Maa seve navadurga,
Navaratri naa poojan,
Shivratri naa arachan,
Kidha nar brahma,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Dashami dash avatar,
Jay vijaya dashmi,
Maa jay vijaya dashmi,
Rame ram ramadya (2x),
Ravan rodyo maa,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe.

Ekadashi agiyarash,
Katyayani kaamaa,
Maa katyayani kaamaa,
Kaam doorga kalika(2x),
Shyama ne raama,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe.

Barase bala roop,
Bahuchari amba maa,
Maa bahuchari amba maa,
Batuk bhairava sohiye (2x),
Tara chhe tuja,
Maa jay om jay om maa jagadambe.

Terase tulaja roop,
Tun taruni mata,
Maa tun taruni mata,
Brahma vishnu sadashiv (2x),
Guna tara gata,
Om Jay Om Jay Om Maa Jagadambe

Chaudashe chauda roop,
Chandi chamunda,
Maa chandi chamunda,
Bhava bhakti kain aapo,
Potani kai stapho,
Sinha vahani,
Maa jay om jay om maa jagadambe.

Shivashakti ne aarti,
Je koyee gaashe,
Maa je bhaave gaashe,
Bhane shivananda swami(2x),
Sukha sampati thaassey,
Har kailashe jaashe,
Maa amba dukha harashe,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Eke ek swaroop,
Antar nava darasho,
Maa antar nava darasho,
Bhola bhoodar na bhajata,
Maa amba ne bhajata,
Bhavasaagar tarasho,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe

Bhava na janoo,
Bhakti na janoo seva,
Maa na janoo seva,
Mata na daas ne raakho(2x),
Charnamrit leva,
Om jay om jay om maa jagadambe.

 Navratri AartiDandiya Raas in NavratriDandiya Raas emanates from the folk tradition that forms the basis of India’s composite culture. It holds a significant place in the Navratri festival all across the country. This is especially true for Gujarat, which has preserved the folk music and dance culture of India through the years. The actual euphoria in Navratri is generated by the spectacular Dandiya events that involve several aesthetic and energetic movements. It is a uniquely expressive dance performed in honour of Goddess Durga and her representations worshipped during the nine days of Navratri. The sticks are figuratively the sword of Durga that she used to vanquish Mahishasura, extolling its power to triumph over evil.

Dandiya is a beautiful art form that comes alive with rhythmic human movements and pleasant janging of Dandiya sticks. Dandiya Raas is performed after the ‘arti’ session in the evening. Raas-Dandiya takes the celebration to a heightened level of festive verve. It is also flexible enough to explore variations of dance steps, and with some improvisation and choreography, it magically sets off the festive mood for the nine nights of Navratri.

History Dandiya was originally performed only by men with long sticks in their hands trying to learn sword fighting to rhythmic beats. The public performance of Dandiya also has religious associations, as it was also a part of seasonal festivities in the agrarian regions of the country. With time, it also borrowed from other dance forms like Garba and lent itself to festival-based performances during Basant Panchami and Navratri. One of the most important changes in its formative period of transition was the participation of women. However, in certain places, this dance form native to the tribal folk of Rajasthan and Gujarat is still practised in its original form.

The Dandiya Raas is performed with rotatory motions but the arrangement and placement is somewhat complex, as it involves single layer of circle or concentric circles, when several groups participate. The beauty of such an arrangement is that one circle moves clockwise, while the other goes anti-clockwise. Dancers do the circling motion around the ‘mandvi’ or the perforated pot with ‘diya’ inside representing the divine energy or Maa Shakti. The overall effect in Dandiya Raas is that of exuberance and verve.

Both costumes and sticks of Raas Dandiya have a distinct traditional look and are extremely colourful. While women are attired in the traditional choli and ghagra ensemble with eye-catching detailed embroidery and mirror work, men are equally well turned out in their flamboyant kedias. The colourful sticks draped in ‘bandhani’ cloth and embellished with beads and ghungroos are indeed very appealing.

The dancer strikes at his partner’s dandia (stick) to the beat of ‘meddale’ drum or other kinds of music. Increasingly, percussionists and folk singers are being replaced by the new-age popular and pulsating music. Concurrent with the times, it lends itself to the current trends of fast beats and fusion music. But this also accounts for its immense popularity across the country today.

Dandiya Raas expresses happiness, gaiety and energy. In Raas, since it is important to perform the same steps to the beat, the dance is also a test of co-ordination and focus as hand and leg movements of the dancer should be in sync with those of his/her partner. However, in its basic form, it is extremely easy to learn even for a novice. Dandiya-Raas has evolved through time to incorporate variations such as ‘back turns’, ‘kneeling down’ and ‘spinning of dandiya’ in the air. It shares similarity of steps with Garba in particular styles such as Three Claps, Lehree, Trikoniya and Four Corners.

Ghatasthapana Puja Vidhi during Navratri
Ghatasthapana Time

Ghatasthapana is one of the significant rituals during Navratri. It marks the beginning of nine days festivity. Our scriptures have well defined rules and guidelines to perform Ghatasthapana during a certain period of time at the beginning of Navratri. Ghatasthapana is invocation of Goddess Shakti and doing it wrong time, as our scriptures forewarn, might bring wrath of the Goddess Shakti. Ghatasthapana is prohibited during Amavasya and night time.

The most auspicious or Shubh time to do Ghatasthapana is first one third of the day while Pratipada is prevailing. If due to some reasons this time is not available then Ghatasthapana can be done during Abhijit Muhurta. It is advised to avoid Nakshatra Chitra and Vaidhriti Yoga during Ghatasthapana but those are not prohibited. The most important factor to consider is that Ghatasthapana is done before Hindu midday while Pratipada is prevailing.

Hence please note down the city based Ghatasthapana Time after setting the location for your city.

Ghatasthapana Items
  1. Wide and open
    Clay Pot

    to sow Sapta Dhanya

  2. Clean
    Soil

    to sow Sapta Dhanya

  3. or seeds of seven different grains

  4. Small clay or brass
    Pitcher
  5. Sacred water to fill the Kalash or
    Ganga Jal
  6. Sacred thread / Moli /
    Kalaya
  7. Scent

    (perfume)

  8. Supari

    (betel nuts)

  9. Coins

    to put into the Kalash

  10. 5 leaves

    of Ashoka or Mango tree

  11. A
    Lid

    to cover the Kalash

  12. Raw Rice

    or unbroken rice known as Akshat (अक्षत) to put in the lid

  13. Unpeeled
    Coconut
  14. Red Cloth

    to warp coconut

  15. Flowers and Garland

    preferably marigold

  16. Durva

    grass

Kalash Preparation
Kalash Preparation for Ghatasthapana
Kalash Preparation

Kalash is prepared before invoking the Goddess and other Gods into it.

Step 1 – First take the wide clay pot (the one which would be used to keep the Kalash) to sow the grains. Spread the first layer of the soil into the pot and then spread the grain seeds. Now add the second layer of the soil and grains. In second layer grains should be spread near the periphery of the pot. Now spread the third and final layer of the soil into the pot. If needed add little water to the pot to set the soil.

Step 2 – Now tie the sacred thread on the neck of the Kalash and fill it up with the holy water up to the neck. Drop Supari, scent, Durva grass, Akshat and coins into the water. Keep 5 leaves of Ashoka at the edge of the Kalash before covering it with a lid.

Step 3 – Now take the un-peeled coconut and wrap it inside the red cloth. Fasten the coconut and red cloth with the sacred thread.

Now keep the coconut on top of the Kalash prepared in step 2. At last put the Kalash in the center on the grain pot prepared in step 1. Now we have Kalash ready to invoke Goddess Durga into it.

Invoke Goddess Durga

Now invoke Goddess Durga and request Her to accept your prayers and to oblige you by residing into the Kalash for nine days.

Panchopachara Puja

As name suggests, Panchopachara Puja (पंचोपचार पूजा) is done with five Puja items. First show the lamp to the Kalash and all deities invoked in it. After lamp offering, light Dhoop sticks and offer it to the Kalash, followed by flowers and scent. Finally offer Naivedhya (नैवेद्य) i.e. fruits and sweets to the Kalash to conclude Panchopachara Puja.

Durga (2016)

Vasanta (Chaitra) Navratri festival in 2016

is celebrated from 8 to 15 April.

*

Sharada Navaratri festival in 2016

is celebrated from 1 to 10 October.

Goddess Durga

Goddess Durga riding on her lion and attacking demon Mahisasur.
Goddess Durga riding on her lion and attacking demon Mahisasur. | Source

About the Navratri Festival

Navratri is one of the most celebrated of all Hindu festivals. “Nav” means nine and “ratri” means night, thus Navratri festival means a festival spread over nine nights.

Though Navratri comes five times in a year, the most important and major are:

  • Vasanta Navratri (also known as Basanta Navrathri, Chaitra Navratras, or Raama Navratri), which is celebrated in the month of March or April every year. It ends on the 9th and final day which is celebrated as Ram Navami.
  • Sharada Navratri (also known as Maha Navratri or Sharad Navratri), which is celebrated in the months of September or October every year. The 10th day after the nine nights is celebrated as Vijayadashmi, the celebration of good over evil. It is also called Dussehra.

The dates of Navratri are based on the lunar calendar and change every year.

A pot is installed in a clean place in the home and a lamp is kept lighted at all times for the entire duration of the navratri festival. This is called Ghatasthapana.

Goddess Durga, the epitome of power or shakti, is worshipped during Navratri. It is believed the goddess had nine forms and she is worshipped in these forms during the nine-night festival.

The 8th Day

The 8th day is celebrated as Durga Ashtami or Ashtami. It is celebrated on an especially large scale in West Bengal.

The 9th Day

On the 9th day Kanya Puja (the worship of young girls who have not reached the age of puberty) is performed. Nine girls represent the nine forms of the Goddess Durga or Divine Mother. Their feet are washed, tilak is applied to their foreheads, and they partake in a feast of pooris, halwa, and black gram, a sweet dish like kheer. They are offered new clothes and fruits by those who perform this ceremony.

The Nine Forms of Goddess Durga

Depending on the region, different forms of the Goddess Durga are worshipped. The forms are:

  • Durga, the invincible
  • Bhadrakali, the auspicious and fortunate
  • Amba or Jagdamba, Mother of the universe
  • Annapoorna, the giver of food
  • Sarvamangala, the giver of joy all around
  • Bhairavi, the terrifying
  • Chandika, the violent
  • Lalita, the beautiful
  • Bhavani, the giver of life
  • Mookambika, the one who listens

Fasting During Navratri

Fasting is a common practice observed by many during Navratri. Meat, alcohol, grains, wheat, onions, and garlic are avoided by those fasting.

Grains are avoided as they are believed to absorb negative energy due to the seasonal changes at this time.

The Legend of Navratri

Though Navratri is a mix of various themes, the common factor is the destruction of evil or the victory of good over evil.

In the Chaitra Navratri, Demon Mahishasura (who had defeated all the Gods) was ultimately killed by Goddess Durga. After the Gods were defeated, they approached Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh, whose collective energy gave rise to shakti or power in the form of Goddess Durga. They appealed to her to kill the demon.

In the Chaitra Navratri, the 9th day is celebrated as Ram Navami, the day Lord Rama was born.

In the Sharad Navratri, the 10th day is celebrated as Vijayadashami or Dusshera, the day when the demon king Ravana was killed by Lord Rama.

The Nine Days

The nine days are divided into three sets of three days each to worship the three different attributes of the Goddess.

Goddess Durga

Source

Day 1 – 3

The Goddess is worshipped in the form of Durga or Kali, in the form of a Warrior Goddess dressed in red and riding on a lion.

Goddess Laxmi

Source

Day 4 – 6

During the middle three days, the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Lakhshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, dressed in gold.

Goddess Saraswati

Source

Day 7 – 9

In the last three days, the Goddess is worshipped in the form of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, dressed in white and sitting on a white swan.

Garba Dance

Source

About Garba Dance

It is a folk dance form of Gujarat state in India. This dance is performed around a centrally placed earthen pot called a “garbha” in which a small lighted earthen lamp called a “deep” is kept. Dancers dance in circular movements around this “Garbha Deep” while also revolving.

The dance’s circular patterns represent the movement of time and the cycle of life from birth to death to rebirth again. The only thing that remains constant is the feminine form of Divinity that is the Goddess Durga, represented by the Garbha Deep.

Thus, by way of the Garba dance, the goddess Durga is honored.

Garba Video

Dandia Dance

Dandia dance
Dandia dance | Source

Difference Between Garba & Dandiya Dance

The main difference between these two dances is that Garba is performed before the worship or Aarti of the Goddess Durga, while Dandiya dance is done after the worship.

Another difference is that Dandiya is performed with wooden sticks while Garba has just the hand and feet movements.

Both men and women take part in these dances.

Dandiya Video

The Rituals

There are some different rituals associated with Navratri depending on in which state it is celebrated, though Durga Puja is one common factor. Some of these are:

In Gujarat:
After the worship of the Goddess Durga in the evening, traditional dances 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.

In Maharastra:
The 10th day is considered auspicious for starting a new business, buying a house, etc.

In West Bengal:
Durga puja is celebrated here on a massive scale. Massive idols of Goddess Durga are installed and huge pandals are set up at various places for devotees to visit and worship. Everyone attends in new clothes.

In Punjab:
Kanya puja is done on the 8th day of the festival before breaking the fast. These girls of prepubescent age are offered puris, chana, halwa, and red scarves.

In South India:
Idols of various Gods and Goddesses are placed on specially set-up steps. This arrangement is called Golu.

In Mysore, district of Karnataka:
Decorated elephants are taken out in a procession. The streets are colorfully decorated. The royal deity of Mysore, Chamundi is worshipped on this day. Computers, books, vehicles, kitchen tools are worshipped on the 9th day.

In Kerala:
In the last three days, books are worshipped.

Navratri Golu

The different deities that are worshipped during the nine-day Navratri festival.
The different deities that are worshipped during the nine-day Navratri festival. | Source

Navratri Dishes

Some dishes that are traditionally prepared during Navratri are:

Watch the recipe videos below.

Sabudana Puris & Vadas Recipe

Vrat Ke Chawal: Rice for Fast Recipe

Sabudana Kheer: Tapioca Pudding

Singhara Pakora for Vrat – Navratra

Rava Kesari – Arusuvai Kitchen

Sabudana Kheer Recipe: How to Make Saboodana Kheer

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