It's that time of the year, when there are wholesome Indian festivals and festivities to look forward to every month. Navratri (also known as Sharad Navratri) is among the most awaited festivals, as there is a lot to celebrate and look forward to over the 9 Navratri days all over India, especially in the northern part of the country. The Navratri celebrations have as many forms as Shakti (also known as Durga or Devi), is the goddess who is worshipped during this festival.
Navratri literally means nine nights, where Goddess Shakti's incarnations/forms are acknowledged and worshipped. Here's a compilation of the most common traditions if you're wondering how to celebrate Navratri, with other tips like the best delicacies that you can prepare as a part of Navratri celebration and the much loved and fun dance form, Garba.
How is Navratri celebrated?
So before diving into how to celebrate Navratri, let us know talk about the nine forms of Ma Durga, to whom we dedicate the nine days of Navratri.
- Shailaputri: Incarnated as the daughter of the mountains, Shailaputri is the first form to worship in Navratri. She is one of the most powerful forms of the Goddess who rides a bull and acts as a counsellor to many other Gods in times of need. She is also known as Parvati in many mythologies. Everyone usually wears red on this day to honour her.
- Brahmacharini: This form of the Goddess in Navratri signifies sacrifice, resolution, and the modern world's hustle. Brahmacharini literally means the female who follows the path of Brahma (the ultimate truth). This day is associated with the royal blue colour, which stands for calm and powerful energy.
- Chandraghanta: A contemporary image of the better half of Shiva, she is the female form of calmness, positivity, and beauty. On this day, everyone wears yellow.
- Kushmunda: She is believed to be the unsaid, silent creator of the matter and energy in the universe. To pay homage to the life she created, the day is associated with green colour.
- Skanda Mata: She is also the deity of many households, apart from forming a part of the Navratri celebration. She is the mother of Skanda/Kartikeya and is often linked to fertility and the powerful motherly instinct. Grey is the colour for this day.
- Katyayani: Also known as Mahishasurmardini (the slayer of Mahishasura), she is the bold, courageous form of Devi. To incorporate this trait in us, we wear the colour orange on this day.
- Kaalratri: The one who is as dark and fearless as the night, she is also called Kaali. She is the fiercest form of the Goddess. To pay tribute to the luminosity in her eyes, the day is associated with the colour white.
- Maha Gauri: The name is an adornment to her glowing (not fair) complexion and her intelligence. On this day, a lighter shade of pink (similar to that of a water lotus) is preferred to honour serenity, beauty, and knowledge. This eighth day is also known as Durgashtami.
- Siddhidatri: She is the personification of the siddhis (the ultimate abilities), presented by Maa Kushmanda to Shiva after he prayed for and demanded perfection for himself. On this day, sky blue colour is worn to denote bliss and the infinite possibilities to explore.
Now that you know the significance of each day and the goddesses that we worship, let us know more about the proceedings, prayers, and fasting on these days.
As a beginner's guide to Navratri fasting, just remember that you have to mostly avoid anything heavily cooked and stick to a basic diet of fruits, boiled vegetables, and milk (which are the richest sources of energy and nutrients). There is a brief list of 7 Popular Foods You Can Savour This Navratri Season that you can refer to. For a focused mind without unnecessary distractions, it is recommended to enchant the Goddess' shlokas and mantras throughout the day. Many even abstain from wearing footwear, for a stricter 'tapasya'. Many even keep an Akhanda Jyot, a continuously burning lamp, for the whole duration of 10 days.
And finally, the most anticipated part of Navratri Celebration, loved by people of all ages, ethnicities, and localities: the Garba. It is a group dance performed by everyone in a huge gathering with traditional songs and outfits. Many big Garba events are conducted during all 9 days of Navratri in all the major cities of India. Everyone from individuals to enthusiastic cultural groups practices for months to make the most out of this festival.
Navratri brings positivity and hope and is a way for everyone to get the blessings of the Goddess and try to incorporate her qualities in one's individual life.