A colorful Hindu celebration in India, the Navaratri festival traditions, from jewelry to fasting food recipes celebrates the victory of good over evil.
The Navratri festival, also called Sharad Navaratri is the Hindu Festival that goes for nine continuous days.
Navratri celebrations include all spirits for nine nights, this festival remains at the center of the cultural sphere for Indian people.
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THE HINDU FESTIVAL OF DIVINITY
Though typical traditions of the festival are followed by Hindus mostly, it is a hopeful time for all Indians-by-heart.
Navaratri is also known as Durga Puja in some parts of India and honor the divine feminine deity of Maa Durga.
In theory, there are four seasonal Navaratri in a year. However, to be practical, it is the Sharada Navaratri that has special significance and religious values.
Celebrated usually in the Ashvin month of Hindy calendar, this festival comes around the months of September and October.
Navatri 2020 is held October 17-25
The end of this nine-day festival culminates with Durga Puja and followed by a tenth day for Vijayadashami or Dusshera, making the festival span ten days total.
As Hindus have migrated to different corners of the world, they took their culture and traditions along.
Due to this, Hindus living in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand celebrate the festival with great enthusiasm.
Besides that, countries like Trinidad and the United Kingdom also seem to have a whole different holy vibe around this time of the year due to the local Hindu communities residing there.
9 DAYS OF NAVARATRI
Every day of Navaratri is dedicated to one incarnation of the Goddess Durga.
Hence, the story behind each day is also different. As a whole, the entire festival is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine Avatars, also known as Navadurga, which she took to protect humanity.
The Goddess fought with a demon Mahishasura for eight days continuously. On the ninth day, she emerged victorious, marking the end of the prominent battle and the victory of good over evil.
Here is what each day signifies:
1st Day: Shailaputri
The word Shailaputri literally means the Daughter of Mountain, which is an incarnation of Parvati.
It is this form that people worship her as the consort of God Shiva. The image depicts her riding a bull, Nandi, and also has a Trishula in her right hand and lotus in her left hand.
It is believed that this is the first direct incarnation of the eternal Goddess Mahakali.
The colour of this day is red, which symbolizes action and vigor.
It also supports the thought that every woman has a goddess inside her, and she only needs to awaken her power to correct everyone’s wrongdoings.
2nd Day: Brahmacharini
On the second day, Goddess Brahmacharini is worshipped, which is yet another incarnation of Parvati.
In this life, the Goddess dedicated herself and remained unmarried to worship Lord Shiva.
Eventually, this form came to know as a practice that endows peace and prosperity.
A woman can attain emancipation or moksha with this. The Goddess walks bare feet and holds Japamala and Kamandal in her hands like Lord Shiva, which symbolizes calm and bliss.
Depicting tranquility in real life, blue is the colour code for this day.
3rd Day: Chandraghanta
The third day of the Navaratri festival belongs to Chandraghanta, derived from marrying Shiva and adorning the iconic Ardhachandra on her forehead.
This incarnation of the Goddess is a symbol, the true embodiment of bravery and beauty.
Being a cheerful colour that can pep up the mood, yellow is the official colour of this day.
4th Day: Kushmanda
Worshipped on the fourth day, Goddess Kushmanda is believed to be the original creative power of the universe.
She is the source of plants, animals, and all other life forms. In this form, she has eight arms and sits on a Tiger.
The official colour of this day is green, which represents nature and its divine power.
5th Day: Skandamata
Skanda is the name given to Kartikeya, the son of Goddess Parvati. She is worshipped as his mother and sends a message that if a mother wishes it to be, she can be the ultimate power source for her child.
Whenever the child confronts any kind of danger, the mother will become his/her strength to surpass all obstacles.
In this form, the Goddess rides a ferocious lion, has four arms, and holds her baby.
The colour of this day is grey.
6th Day: Katyayini
Yet another incarnation of Durga, the sixth day of the Navaratri festival, belongs to the daughter of sage Katyauana.
She is a warrior goddess and is considered as the most violent form. Some legends also depict her as a form of Maha Lakshmi.
In this avatar, Devi rides a lion and has four hands wearing orange colour, making it the day’s official colour.
7th Day: Kalaratri
Kalaratri is the seventh incarnation of Goddess Durga, marking the Saptami of Navaratri festival.
In this form, Parvati sheds her fair skin that is calm and serene to take the form of a raging diety as her skin turns black.
The Goddess wears a warrior attire of white colour that she wore to kill Sumbha and Nisumbha.
The white colour symbolizes peace, which the Goddess helped attain and took an oath to protect her devotees from harm.
8th Day: Mahagauri
Wearing the pink colour of optimism, the eighth day of Navaratri celebrates and worships Mahagauri avatar of Goddess Durga.
She holds the power of fulfilling all desires and provides relief from all the sufferings.
In this avatar, she has four arms where the two arms are raised to give blessings and boons. The other ones hold a trident and tambourine.
Mahagauri is a symbol of peace of intelligence and rides on a white bull with grace.
9th Day: Siddhidatri
The last day of the Navaratri is spent praying Siddhidatri. She sits on a lotus and possesses the power to bestow all kinds of blessings and Siddhis.
Her four arms hold lotus, mace, chakra, and shankha. This avatar of the Goddess eliminates all the negativity. Being the moola Roopa of Parvati, she has supernatural powers and acts as the mistress of all achievements and perfects.
Blue is the lucky colour of this day.
Combined together, these nine days make the entire Navaratri festivals that Hindus celebrate today.
And the festival is followed by Dusshera afterward, which marks the victory of Lord Rama over the Demon Lord Ravana.
NAVRATRI FESTIVAL AROUND THE WORLD
Navaratri’s regional practices, Navaratri food, and fasting practices are so different from each other that you will be amazed to find out the diversity that exists in the same country.
While some people fast during these days, others feast.
The celebration is the eastern Indian, West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Tripura, Assam, Nepal, and other regions that are quite different than other parts of the country.
The nine days as a whole are dedicated to Goddess Durga, who took down a shape-shifting, deceptive, and powerful demon, Mahishasura, and made the land holy again.
It is the last five days that are more important.
Everything begins with Mahalaya, where people remember the loved ones and warrior goddess Durga.
Then follow it on the sixth day to welcome the Goddess into their homes.
The 7th, 8th, and 9th days also welcome Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya.
HOW NAVRATRI VARIES IN INDIA
India is a land of diversity, reflecting even with all the festivals that are celebrated throughout the year.
They practice their state folk dance, share sweets, and gather together to mark the end of the days.
In the North Indian region, the celebrations started a long time ago with Ramlila events throughout cities and localities that portray the story of Rama and Ravana.
The most famous organization of the Navaratri festival is held at Katra in Jammu by the Directorate of Tourism and Shri Mata Vaishno Deviji Shrine Board.
Pilgrims and devotees visit this place in thousands of numbers during this time.
In Gujarat the Navaratri festival holds a different and higher value.
It mostly includes fasting for a day and eating only Navaratri food.
Some even fast for nine days and take liquid foods only.
A special prayer called Garbo is also held in the remembrance of Goddess Durga being the womb of the universe.
People from all villages and towns gather together and perform the folk dance Garba.
In the regions of Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana, a Navaratri festival is somewhat similar yet has different cultural practices.
NAVARATRI FESTIVAL FOOD
Most of the people practice fasting during the days of Navaratri.
The items that are eaten are called Navaratri food, and meals are made of those items.
As the Navaratri festival of this year is approaching, people clean their houses to welcome the Goddess and her Navadurga avatars.
The devotees prefer eating special foods that are delicacies of the festivals and suit all people.
There are multiple things that people avoid eating during the period, such as onion, garlic, eggs, non-vegetarian foods, wheat flour, jowar flour, besan, rice flour, green leafy vegetables, dals, pulses, etc.
Instead, they eat fruit chaat, kuttu ki poori, sabudana khichdi, and other dishes made purely as vegetarian recipes.
So, here we are with some common and popular Navaratri special foods that are healthy and tasty to fill your tummy and soul.
Full of starch and carbohydrates, Sabudana provides the energy that you need on a fasting day.
Prepare a simple and sophisticated khichdi of sabudana mixed with mild spices and peanuts, and a delicious meal will be ready for you to eat.
You can also add a different touch and prepare sabudana vada as a Navaratri snack.
Kuttu Ka Dosa
We can bet that any dosa lover won’t be able to refuse this recipe during the Navaratri festival.
Kuttu is the flour that is meant for fasting purposes, also known as buckwheat flour.
Prepare the potato filling and rustle up the flour to make crispy dosas. Don’t forget to serve them with mint or coconut chutney.
It is one of the best ideas to tweak the old boring recipes of kuttu poori.
Aloo ki Kadhi
Navaratri fasting recipes are incomplete without having a proper potato-based dish.
Throw away the old recipes and try making light and lovely curry of potatoes by tucking some soothing flavors into it.
Getting a little bit creative and making a healthy aloo ki kadhi makes Navaratri food special.
Singhare Ke Atte Ka Samosa
People who are not so enthusiastic about fasting but like eating the Navaratri fasting recipes will love it.
Make your ideal tea-time snack with the ingredients used, especially during fasting time, such as chestnut flour and sendha namak.
Make a filling of chironji, and don’t forget to prepare coriander chutney to go with the samosa.
The preparation of this snack will take some time, but the feeling will be unmatched after you’re done with it.
Yes, it is possible to make a sweet dish from Sabudana as well.
It is a classic Navaratri special food that is loved by almost everyone. Prepare the dessert with the base of sabudana and add a flavor of cardamom and saffron.
Don’t forget to top it off with chunky nuts, and your treat is ready to eat.
Vrat Chawal ka Dhokla
You can rely on this recipe for freshness and unique touch to add a new taste during Navaratri days.
It will give you a break from pakoras and puris that you’ve been eating for a long time.
Dhokla is a healthy way of fasting, and the recipe can be modified with ingredients of whole red chilies, curry leaves, and cumin.
Enjoy the different taste and texture that can fill your empty stomach to its fullest.
It is a roadside recipe that is tweaked according to Navaratri food items.
Make them by using potatoes and arrowroot flour and stuff them with coconut.
Deep fry these balls and dry out the oil. When you’ve been hungry all day, eating this dish will be very satiating.
As we all know, most fasters spend Navaratri days eating fruits and drinking juices.
But why don’t we make a snack of the fruit?
Peel and cut the bananas into very thin pieces.
Dry them under the sun a day before and sprinkle some spices over it.
Fry the slices until they are light brown and crispy. Take them out, and your banana snack is ready to eat.
Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand
Shrikhand is a mouth-watering sweet dish that often appears on the fasting menus.
However, people avoid making it at home.
But if you haven’t eaten all day and spend some time preparing this, we can assure you that the outcome will be more than what you wish for.
Take a muslin cloth and hang the curd for about 3 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare warm milk and mix saffron until it dissolves.
Now, mix the curd, sugar, saffron mix, cardamom, and voila, Shrikhand is ready to eat.
Savory Kand Poori
Many fasting people don’t get enough food in their tummy during navaratras because the meals are small.
But Kand Poori might make you feel wholeheartedly full after spending the day without eating anything.
Combine mashed purple yam/kand, rajgira flour, chili paste, ginger paste, cumin seeds, lemon juice, and salt to taste.
Mix them well and knead dough that is suitable to make small size flatten poori.
Fry them in the oil on a slow flame, and you will have enough pooris to fill your plate and mouth.
People love sweet potato during the winter season.
But let us tell you that if you put some effort into preparing a chaat, it’ll be worthwhile.
Boil the sweet potatoes and peel them off.
Cut them into equal slices and cover with lemon, rock salt, and chat masala.
We can bet that after eating this, Shakargandi chaat will be one of your favorite Navaratri fasting recipes.
Fasting Paneer Rolls
Paneer always comes to the rescue when you need energy with deliciousness and richness in your meals.
Prepare this Navaratri special food with grated paneer, potatoes, sendha namak, and some other spices that you like.
Fry two of them at once in a pan until they become crispy and pair the rolls with mint or coriander chutney. It will be a great snack during festival times.
Now, there are no more boring Navaratri fasting recipes that you’ve eaten a hundred times already.
Prepare kebab with bananas that can melt in your mouth and make you experience the richness of festivals.
Add the flavors of your choice and make it into a perfect festival snack.
As India is a country that has many religions celebrating festivals with equal enthusiasm, there might be slight differences in the Navaratri special food items and ingredients.
Before you go all the way into the recipes, ask your elders about them, and follow the traditions that are the essence of Navaratri.
Have a happy Navaratri and fulfilling holiday season blessed by mother Goddess Durga!