The Hindu festival of Navratri is celebrated twice a year. The first Navratri of the year is known as Chaitra Navratra, as it falls in March-April. The second Navratri is held in October-November, which is coincides as Durga Puja. The festival Navratri (Nav - nine and Ratri - night) means nine nights. The festival lasted for nine days and devotees worship to their Mother Goddess throughout this time period. Dandiya and Garba Rass are the important activities of this festival.
Sarod or Shardiya Navratri 2017 in India: Traditionally, Navratri is a Hindu festival celebrated during the month of September or October in India. Current year Navaratri will start on Thursday, 21st September, 2017 and will continue for nine days until Friday, 29th September, 2017 followed by Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami on 30th September, 2017 (Saturday). This festival less or more celebrates in all the states and Union Territories of India. Celebration Day: Thursday, 21/09/2017 to Friday, 29/09/2017.
Chaitra Navratri 2017 in India : Traditionally, Chaitra Navratri is a Hindu festival celebrated during the month of Chaitra (March or April) according to Hindu calendar. Current year Chaitra Navaratri will start on 28th March, 2017 (Tuesday) and will continue for nine days until 5th April, 2017 (Wednesday). This festival less or more celebrates in all the states and Union Territories of India.
First Three Days : On the first day of the Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared in the Puja room of the house and barley seeds are sown on it. On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 - 5 inches in length. After the Puja, these seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from god. These initial days are dedicated to Durga Maa, the Goddess of power and energy. Her various manifestations, Kumari, Parvati and Kali are all worshipped during these days. They represent the three different classes of womanhood that include the child, the young girl and the mature woman.
Second Three Days : During these days, Lakshmi Maa, the Goddess of peace and prosperity is worshipped. On the fifth day which is known as Lalita Panchami, it is traditional, to gather and display all literature available in the house, light a lamp or 'Diya' to invoke Saraswati Maa, the Goddess of knowledge and art.
Seventh and Eighth Day : These final days belong to Saraswati Maa who is worshipped to acquire the spiritual knowledge. This in turn will free us from all earthly bondage. But on the 8th day of this colorful festival, Yogna (holy fire) is performed. Ghee (clarified butter), Kheer (rice pudding) and sesame seeds form the holy offering to Goddess Durga Maa.
Mahanavami, Final Day : The festival of Navratri culminates in Mahanavami. On this day Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped. Their feet are washed as a mark of respect for the Goddess and then they are offered new clothes as gifts by the worshiper.
All through the nine days, the devotees would chant mantras, sing songs and bhajans in the honor of the deity. To celebrate the festival, a number of Pujas are conducted all through the nine days. There have many procedure (Vidhi) to performing Navaratri Puja.
First day of the festival devotees should take bath in the morning and wear cleaned clothes. Then, fill a Kalash (pitcher) with water and set mango leaves on its mouth. Then a coconut should be put on the Kalash. Now, attach Moli (red sacred thread) on the neck of the pitcher. Two banana trees are placed to the both side of the idol or picture of Ma Durga or Puja room and the pitcher is to be set under those trees.
Then a priest begins main worship the deity with Roli (red color for Tilak), rice, and flowers, Balepatra (a tree leaf), Kumkum (vermilion) and Gulal. Thereafter, the priest fire on oil lamp which is made of clay and pour ghee (clarified butter) over it. It is a custom to keep oil lamp burning till the Puja is over.
Through out a long time the priest chanting Mantras and sing Aarti song while doing the Aarti. After completing the Puje devotees fold their hands and encircle the flame for three times of the oil lamp and touch their hand on their face and head.
Dandiya Raas (dance with a colorful stick which usually made of bamboo) is the most popular part of Navratri specialy in Gujarat and some other states in India. Dandiya Raas is performed in the honor of Goddess Durga. It is the dramatization of a mock fight between the Goddess and the demon Mahishasura. The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Durga.
Dandiya Raas is performed after Aarti (ritual of worshipping the deity). Men and women both participate in this dance. They wear special type of dress to look him or her attractive. Women wear traditional dresses such as colorful embroidered Choli, Ghagra and Bandhani Dupattas glittering with mirror work and heavy jewelers, while men look very attractive in their traditional colorful Kedias.
There are two circles made to perform Dandiya Raas, one of the circles revolves clockwise, while the other revolves anti clockwise. The dancers hit the sticks with their partners and dance in circular motion, to the rhythm of the music played in the background.