71 days ago
Hindus around the world have been celebrating the sacred Navratri festival, which ran from 10 to 18 October.
The festival is a nine-day long fiesta that celebrates the nine avatars of Goddess Durga and the triumph of good over evil.
Across the nine days, Hindus worship various forms of Goddess Durga to be blessed with power, wealth, prosperity and knowledge. In order to be blessed with positive virtues, many devotees observe a fast for nine days, particularly in North India.
Also known as Maha Navratri, this festival falls in the lunar month of Ashwin during Sharad Ritu. Although, the festival typically falls four times in a year, the Sharada Navaratri during autumn is the most celebrated.
Among the many rituals, there is also a common tradition followed by women across Gujarat and Maharashtra where they dress in beautiful attire according to special Navratri colours dedicated to each of the nine days and the nine forms of Goddess Durga.
The festival also embraces traditional dances like the Dandiya and Garba Rass. Many larger communities get together and dance while enjoying nightly feasts.
Geeta Vaiwala is one of hundreds of Sodexo people who celebrated this special time. “Navratri allows me to be free and socialise with friends and family in a colourful and eventful way,” says Geeta.
“The evenings are exciting – getting dressed in beautiful outfits and dancing the night away to live singers at a chosen venue. Prayers are completed each night and prashad (blessed food) is distributed amongst all, after which the dancing continues.”
Did you know?
The word Navratri stands for nine nights in Sanskrit (‘nav’ meaning nine and ‘ratri’ meaning nights).
In India the most colourful and elaborated celebration of Navatri is in Bengal where huge idols of the goddess are worshipped.
The goddesses celebrated across the nine days:
Day 1 Shailputri. This avatar of goddess Durga is the embodiment of the collective power of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The goddess in this avatar is worshipped as the consort of Shiva.
Day 2 Brahmcharini, the second avatar of Maa Durga. She is blissful and endows happiness, peace, prosperity and grace. Filled with bliss and happiness, she is the way to emancipation or moksha.
Day 3 Chandraghanta. She represents beauty and grace and is worshipped on the third day for peace, tranquility and prosperity in life. She is the symbol of bravery.
Day 4 Kushmunda. This avatar of the goddess is considered the creator of the universe. It is believed that she created the universe through laughter.
Day 5 Skand Mata. She is the mother of Skanda, or Karthikeya, who was chosen by the gods as their commander-in-chief in the war against the demons. The goddess represents the vulnerability of a mother who can fight anyone when the need arises to protect her child.
Day 6 Katyayani. The goddess was born to the great sage, Kata, as an avatar of Durga. Dressed in orange, she exhibits immense courage.
Day 7. This avatar of the goddess has dark complexion, disheveled hair and a fearless posture. She is the most fierce form of goddess Durga, and she is dressed in white, a colour that represents peace and prayer.
Day 8 Maha Gauri. The eighth avatar of Maa Durga represents intelligence, peace, prosperity and calm.
Day 9 Siddhidatri. The goddess is known for having supernatural healing powers. The goddess is represents blissful state of mind, just like the sky on a clear day.
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