Ravan Dahan - Navratri Festival
Most Spectacular of All
Navaratri festival is the time when entire country is tinged in colors of celebrations, enthusiasm and devotion. The name 'Navaratri' in Sanskrit means nine nights. It is named so, because the festival literally continues for nine nights. This nine day festival is celebrated for worshiping three divine goddesses, Durga (Goddess of Power), Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth), and Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge). Dussehra, the tenth day is the most important day of the festival. This is the most awaited period by millions of Hindus in the country. In fact, the festive mood engulfs one and all, irrespective of their religion and beliefs. During these nine days, the levels of excitement and energy are touching the skies. One will see most extravagant celebrations in the city of Mumbai. The festival is celebrated generally during the early weeks of October. Though the exact dates are set according to the Indian lunar calendar. The rituals performed during the festivals varies in different parts of the country.
Significance of Navaratri And Dussehra
Just like every other festival, there are reasons behind the celebrations of Navaratri as well. The nine days of festivities are the symbol of victory and triumph of good over evil. It is said that, on this day, Lord Rama defeated King Ravana and killed him. For this reason, huge effigies of King Ravana are burnt on the day. This is the biggest attraction for many tourists as well as locales during the festivals. Another legend has it that for nine days, Goddess Durga fought with demon forces of Mahishasura. And on the tenth day, she defeated him. Thus is the tenth day known as 'Vijaydashami' and 'Dussehra' (the tenth day of victory). The person who follows all the rituals, is said to have attained the blessings of the Goddesses and purified his soul to the deepest.
The Puja rituals during the nine days are divided equally for the three Goddesses. On the first three days of the festivals, Goddess Durga is worshiped. The next three days are kept for Goddess Lakshmi and the last three days Goddess Saraswati is worshiped. In every part of the country , the puja rituals are carried out in the morning and the nights are set aside for celebrations. Many Hindus keep fast through the day and break the fast by eating fruits in the evening. During the last day of the celebrations, that is on 'Dussehra', everybody enjoys the effigy burning of King Ravana in the evening. In south, especially in Kerala, the main days are the last three days when Goddess Saraswati is worshiped. Formal education of every kid between 3-5 years starts during this period with a ritual called 'Vidyarambham' meaning start of knowledge. The day is considered to be the most auspicious in one's life.
Exuberance of Mumbai Celebrations
If you are looking for some high volume and high glitter entertainment, then Mumbai is the place for you. Throughout the city, huge shows are organized where famous singers and actors come to perform. Apart from their performances, public also enjoys Dandiya Ras dance and many other activities. To be a part of such exclusive celebrations, people from all over India and even abroad come to Mumbai. Some affluent people come here everyday to attend such parties and then leave, just to be back again the next day. The already sparkling Mumbai, further brightens itself by adding more decorations and colors to homes and streets. Main festivities are carried out in the Mahalaxmi Temple in Breach Candy.
Durga Puja in West Bengal
The time of Durga Puja in West Bengal calls for huge celebrations through out the state. The Puja start on the sixth day of the Navaratri and ends in the evening of the tenth day. The celebrations start with welcoming Goddess Durga and ends with the immersion of idol of the goddess in a river or a lake. Although it is believed that the idol must be immersed in the sacred River Ganges. The preparation for the festival starts way early. Even the idol making starts a month in advance. The idols for the puja are made from clay the traditional way. During the festive days, almost every locality in the state sets up their own Pandal (tents for the puja). Special care is given to the decoration of pandal as well. The best decorations are done inside the pandal. Cultural programmes by the locales are organized on every day of the Puja. The performances carry on through out the day.
Garba And Dandiya Dance in Gujarat
If West Bengal is famous for the Durga Puja celebrations, Gujarat is renowned for its Garba and Dandiya-ras Dance. The dances are performed throughout the nine days of Navaratri. In the morning, people indulge in the puja rituals, and in the evening, go to the social gatherings where almost everyone takes part in the dance performances. Garba Dance is performed only by the women. Another famous dance is the dandiya-ras that is performed by both men and women together. Every performer holds two sticks called dandiya in their hands while dancing. At the end of the performance, the best dance performers get a prize. The dance is particularly famous among the youngsters as the dance literally turns into a match making event, though elders as well participate actively in the dance. The dances continue through out the night that make it extremely popular among people. The energy and excitement of the performers will sweep you of your feet. Many such functions are organized almost in all localities of the state. Citizens, after finishing their household works, step out in their new and best attire. And the colors of the dresses will simply leave you spellbound.
Nothing brings the whole India closer than these nine days. Entire country is lost in the same mood of fervor and festivities. Nine days of Navaratri are the most awaited period of an year, so people put in their every effort to make the festival as grand as possible. Visit India during this period and get yourself introduced you to a new way of extravagant celebrations and utmost devotion.