Navratri 2020 - All About the Nine-Day Festival Of Goddess Durga

Navaratri is a nine-day festival celebrated in India to honour the Mother Goddess in all her avatars (forms). Celebrated twice every year, once in the month Chaitra (March) and then in the month of Ashwin (September-October). The latter consists of the main rituals of placing the idol or image of the Goddess in homes and temples and immersed in water after the nine days of Navaratri.

The Navratri 2020 dates of the Ashwin month are from October 17 until October 26. It is one of the festivals celebrated across the length and breadth of India, though the celebrations in one part of the country are quite different than the other. With various customs and traditions, each region of India has its unique way of celebrating the Navaratri by honouring the multiple forms of Mother Goddess with their rituals and ceremonies.

idol of mother Durga during Navratri 2018 Dates
Mother Goddess (Source)

Navratri 2020: Dates and Schedule

Important OccasionDateDay
Pratipada, Day 117 October 2020
Saturday
Dwitiya, Day 218 October 2020Sunday
Tritiya, Day 319 October 2020Monday
Chaturthi, Day 420 October 2020
Tuesday
Panchami, Day 521 October 2020Wednesday
Shashthi, Day 622 October 2020Thursday
Saptami, Day 723 October 2020Friday
Ashtami, Day 824 October 2020Saturday
Navami, Day 925 October 2020Sunday
Dashami, Day 1026 October 2020Monday

Navratri Celebrations in Western India: Gujarat and Maharashtra

In Gujarat, Navaratri is a grand community event where apart from the ritual, people gather in large number at community grounds to perform the traditional dances of Dandiya Raas and Garba Raas along while singing devotional songs. People dress up in their traditional costumes and spend the evening dancing to the beats of popular traditional Gujarati songs. They also observe Jagran singing bhajans and praising the Goddess all night long.

Garba Raas in traditional garbs, Navratri 2017 Dates
Garba Raas in traditional garbs (Source)

In Maharashtra
, here the first and the last day of Navaratri is especially important. The first day is dedicated to Goddess Durga while the tenth day known as Vijayadashmi is dedicated to Saraswati – the Goddess of Knowledge. This day is considered auspicious to start anything new. Students keep their books and Businessmen keep their account books near the idol to seek blessings on their ventures.

However, some parts of Maharashtra especially Mumbai celebrates Navaratri like in Gujarat by organising events for Garba Raas and Dandiya Raas but with a twist to it. Apart from the traditional dances, Mumbai has also introduced its version of these dances that have become highly popular as Disco Dandiya where traditional songs are mixed with popular Bollywood songs. Cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara also similarly celebrate Navratri.

Navratri Celebrations in Eastern India

Navratri in Bengal, Navratri 2017 Dates
Durga Puja in Bengal (Source)
In Bengal and the places around it, the last four days of Navaratri are celebrated as Durga Puja in honour of Goddess Durga. Huge idols of the Goddess are brought home or to community pandals (tents) to be worshipped for all the four days with different pujas for each day. On the last day, the idol is taken out in a procession to be immersed in water. Kolkata is famous for its Durga Puja celebrations and the grand evening Pujas are a highlight of the festival. Bengalis also perform their traditional dances during these days.

Navratri Celebrations in South India

Mysore Palace, Navratri 2017 Dates and celebrations
Mysore Palace lit up for Navaratri (Source)
Even within South India, the customs vary from each other. During Navratra in Mysore,  the devotees worship the royal deity Chamundi celebrating the festival with grand processions of elephants and horse chariots on the tenth day when the King heads to worship the Goddess at her hilltop temple. While states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, a traditional display of dolls called Bommaikalu is arranged by the women.

It is a series of odd steps where the initial steps are filled with dolls of deities; the next steps have saints from across the world. The next few steps display the master artwork of the woman of the house while the last step showcases the children’s work of organising their toys. Women invite other women to their homes, and they exchange, flowers and traditional symbols of a married Indian woman.

Bommaikalu, Navratri 2017 Dates
Bommaikalu (Source)

While Kerala celebrates this festival in an entirely different manner, on the day of Durgashtami, a ceremonial ritual is performed, and any study-related work is put off for the evening. The following day marks as Mahanavami, in honour of Goddess of Knowledge, Saraswati by performing pujas at home and in temples.

Children from ages 3-5 are taken to the temple to seek the Goddess’s blessings and are taught to write their first alphabets in rice on this auspicious day. The tenth day is known as Dusshera, known as the day Lord Rama defeated Ravana and to commemorate the triumph of good over evil, an effigy of Ravana is burnt along with crackers.

Burning the effigy of Ravana on Dusshera, Navratri 2017 Dates
Burning the effigy of Ravana on Dussehra (Source)

Navratri Celebrations in North India

In this part of the country, this festival is known as Navaratras and is observed with a period of fasting for seven days. On the eighth day, the fast is broken by inviting home young girls as an avatar of the Goddess herself known as Kanjak Devis, to be worshipped with traditional ceremonies.

Navami
is the ninth day of the festival where the seeds of pulses or cereals that were sown on the first day and worshipped all through the days have now sprouted, and after the puja, the seedlings are immersed in water. It is a custom indicated towards the harvesting customs of the place.

In many parts of North India, Ramaleela – a play on the epic Ramayana is performed. Similar to the celebrations in South India, the tenth day of Navaratri known as Dusshera is celebrated here in the same way by burning the effigies of Ravana. However, here the effigies of Ravana’s brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghanand are also burnt along with Ravana.

Ramleela performed during Navratri 2017 Dates
Ramleela performed during Navaratri (Source)
While these parts of India have their own different ways of celebrating the festival of Navaratri, they haven’t hesitated in embracing the traditions of others while celebrating their own. Dusshera of Kerala is celebrated in Maharashtra with the same purpose and enthusiasm just like Dandiya Raas and Garba Raas have found their way into almost all Navaratri celebrating parts of India.

This post was published by Sneha Powar

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