Navrathri - the Most Significant Festival of the HindusNavrathri the most significant festival of the Hindus falls on the lunar month of Ashwin which is either in September or October and is celebrated with all religious and spiritual significance for the next nine months in India. Goddess Durga is worshipped during Navrathri and people celebrate it by various ways like fasting, singing religious songs, dancing, following vegetarian diets and much more. Dandiya and Garba play a major part of the festival especially in North India. At the time of Navrathri people strictly adhere to various rituals like continuous burning of lamp, fasting, staying awake for the night, worshipping a virgin girl, presenting various offerings to the Goddess, singing and dancing to seraphic tunes, etc. The people of the Gujarati community are more into the celebration of Navrathri with devoted significance and enthusiasm. This festival of joy and festivity enhances the devotees in different ways like physically, mentally and spiritually for they worship Goddess Durga in three different forms.
Festival of Navrathri goes for a Period of Nine Days-Though the festival of Navrathri goes for a period of nine days the last four days are very important and quite significant. The meaning of Navrathri is nine days so after the celebration for nine days, on the tenth day the idol of Goddess Durga which is worshipped during the period is immersed in holy water after the pooja is over. All the nine days of Navrathri has a unique meaning and importance for on each day one form of Goddess is worshipped and they are namely Kushmanda, Skandmata, Katyayani, Mahagauri, Siddhidhatri, Kalratri, Chandraghanta, Shailpurti and Brahmacharini. Whereas there are other beliefs like it is only three form of Goddess which is worshipped and they are the trinity of God. Though the people of different states celebrate with varying features the dedication and the devotion remains the same throughout the country. It is celebrated with great passion and fervor. During this festival of celebration the people dress up in the best of their traditional attires and worship huge idols of Goddess Durga to give them the strength and courage to fight against the evil forces.
Dussehra is Celebrated as Lord Rama's Victory
-Navrathri is also referred by other name, Dussehra which is celebrated as Lord Rama's victory over the Demon king Ravana and hence the victory of good over the evil. It is also said that by worshipping Goddess Durga at the time of Navrathri it helps the devotee to attain moksham and mukti.At the time of Navrathri the devotees of Goddess Durga or Adi Shakthi keep a clay pot in the most sanctified portion of the house and place a lit lamp inside the pot and see to that it is burnt continuously for nine days. The significance behind the observance of this ritual is that people believe that the pot represents the universe and the continuous burning of the lamp is the way through which we worship the excellent primordial energy, Goddess Durga Devi for it is believed that during this period of Navrathri, the principle of Shri Durga Devi is more active in the atmosphere.
The Brilliant Light of the Diya-The brilliant light of the Diya is said to ward off all kinds of negative energies surrounding us. Due to the constant vibrations from the lamp the soul benefits at the level of spiritual emotion and feels the experience of harmony and bliss. Also factors like purity and divine consciousness in the environment enhances. Another important ritual which is followed at the time of Navrathri is fasting by which the embodied soul of the individual is benefitted up to 3% and depending upon one's spiritual yearning, the six basic vices (shad-ripu) also get reduced. Some people follow the ritual of fasting on all the nine days of the festival of Navrathri whereas some observe it on the first and the last day or the last day and the day before it. Fasting is not that the devotees totally abstain themselves from food for the whole day but instead they eat some special type of fasting dishes.
Navarathri-abstaining from food and sleep
-Some people keep themselves restricted to only fruits and milk for the period of nine days whereas few stick to satvik and vegetarian meal which is mainly devoid of onion and garlic. Fasting is not compulsory for each one's health condition varies. The devotees try not to sleep during the period of navrathri. The most significant reason behind the following of this ritual of not sleeping is because it is believed that Goddess Shakthi or the Divine Energy principle is fighting a non -stop battle with the bad and the unrighteous elements. So when the Goddess Durga is fighting for the welfare of her devotees, it is considered to be very inauspicious to sleep during this period. Therefore as a matter of respect and gratitude that we can shower on the Goddess Shakthi or Durga the people usually keep themselves away from sleep by staying awake and singing songs in praise of Goddess Shakthi and also dancing. The devotees also observe a strong celibacy by not wearing footwear and not sleeping on a bed or a mattress. This is the main significance behind the purpose of staying awake the whole night.
Worship of virgin girls- Also men of particular community do not shave or cut their hair during this period. People generally avoid dressing up themselves in black clothes but instead go in for wearing red and yellow colour for it is believed that is supposed to be Goddess Durga's favourite colour.The people follow the ritual of also worshipping young and virgin girls on all the nine days of navrathri for they consider them to be the form of Shakthi. A virgin girl is a symbol of unmanifested energy and by worshipping her the unmanifested energy in her gets activated. Due to this the radiant frequencies in the universe get attracted and the devotee benefits by it. People apart from worshipping virgin girls also feed them with sweets and different types of traditional and delicious food items. They believe that it is the offering they give it to Goddess Durga. The preparation of spiritually pure dishes at the time of Navrathri is also a very important part of the rituals followed during Navrathri. Special food like sweets made of chickpeas and jaggery and plain curry made of yellow lentils are all part of the Navrathri special food.
Food and Garba during Navarathri
-The consecrated food radiates the activated Raja component. The absolute fire element frequencies from the Universe get attracted to it quickly. Thus the food prepared like this when taken as prashad, the devotees benefits from the energy and frequency of the absolute fire element, which purifies one's gross and subtle-bodies.
According to Hinduism Garba is the action of singing of devotional songs and hymns in praise of Goddess Durga accompanied by rhythmic clapping of hands or tapping of sticks. The devotional songs are mainly sung to awake Goddess Shakthhi from Her meditation through the medium of the manifest spiritual practice of rhythmic clapping, and appealing to her to assume the destructive form for her activity in the Universe. The Garba dance is a kind of traditional folk dance of the people of Gujarat and when compared to the whole country the people of Gujarat celebrate Navrathri with great religious fervor.
Significance of claps in Garba Dance-The significance behind the musical rhythm of three claps of either hands or sticks is because by doing so the destroyer form of the Goddess is awakened through the frequencies of desire, action and knowledge, representing the Bramha, Vishnu and Maheshwaran for they are the important manifest energies of God. Now the Goddess of destroyer Durga Devi awakens slowly and is channeled through these three energies. Thus by clapping three times the energy of the Goddess sankalpa gets started. Each clap means different for the first clap is associated to Lord Brahma which is significant by the energy of desire. Thus by the clapping the wishes and desires of the Lord gets activated and grants permission to the wishes in the mind of the embodied soul. By the second clap the action related waves of the Vishnu principle give energy to the embodied soul for performing actions. By the action of the third clap the knowledge waves of the Shiva principle bring about the actual act and from its result give the desired fruits to the embodied soul.
-The action clapping is said to generate the fire element and thereby we worship the fire God. Along with this when we sing songs in praise of the Goddess and move in a circle as we clap hands we are said to awaken the spiritual emotion towards the Goddess. Navrathri is also the way by which the women folk pray for the welfare of their husband. During the period of Navrathri the lady of the house makes it a point to go to the temple or do puja to Durga Devi both in the morning and evening by lighting lamp and offering flower and doing arti and reciting the mantras and slokas of Durga Devi. Also people believe in certain things which should not be done at the time of Navrathri like no cutting of nails and hair. They o not dust the pooja room and no knitting of clothes is done. They never the leave the jyothi to burn out for it should go on continuously for nine days.