Navaratri : Nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. As per Hindu tradition Navaratri is dedicated towards the worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga, a form of the supreme power Shakti. The Goddess is one, she is depicted as the Supreme Being, Devi, but she assumes different forms. On these nine nights, Goddess Durga is worshipped in different avatars, and the 10th day is celebrated as Vijayadashami/Dussehra.
Goddess Durga symbolises the positive energy that is involved in creation, preservation and destruction.
During this festival one purifies the soul and the body by fasting. In this perspective, Mahisha is the lazy buffalo that resides within us in the form of ignorance. During the festival of Navaratri we strive to rid ourselves of this ignorance and once we gain victory it is celebrated in the dance of joy in the form of Dandia and Garba.
During Navaratri the puranas like the 'Navratri vrat katha' stress on the importance of 'nirjal' (sans water) and 'nirahar' (sans food) 'vrat'. This is the process by which one elevates the body and soul.
The ritual of fasting begins on the first day of Navratri and continues till the seventh or eighth day. During this phase, the devotees fast without water or food and break it after the evening puja. The final breaking of the fast is carried out on the ninth day which is known as Navami. During these nine days the devotees abstain from meat, alcohol, onions, garlic and even dishes made with common salt or spice. The more devout individuals sustain themselves only on milk products, fruits and fruit juices through all nine nights. While some fast for all nine days, some devotees opt to fast on specific days of these nine nights.
Navaratri is not just about abstaining from food. During these nights the devotees also try and control ones temperament, actions and behaviour.
Last Updated: 17th March, 2018