Nov 5, 2018
By Muskaan, Navratri for me means dancing till my feet hurt, having great food and celebrating it with my loved and dear ones,” Says Ruchi Umargamwala. That is what Navratri means to most of us! doesn’t it? Enjoying playing dandiya! Fasting yet eating all kinds of delicious dishes namely ‘Singade ke poori’, all sorts of namkeen, ‘Kuttu Atta ki Puri’, ‘Sabudana Khichdi’ etc.

Even though Navratri is a festival of celebration; food and dance, do we know what it actually means? Why is it celebrated? What is the essence of it? Do we truly know the answers to these questions?

The word “Navratri” literally breaks down to ‘Nav’ meaning nine and ‘ratari’ meaning nights hence, Navratri is a festival which takes place over the span of nine days, and the tenth day is celebrated as “Dussehra”.

These nine days are dedicated to nine “goddess” or “Shakti”.

All these nine goddesses are said to be the “nine avatars” of the “Shakti” herself.

One of the most popular rituals during this time is “Kanya Puja” or “Kanjak”, which usually takes place on the eighth or the ninth day. In this ritual, nine young girls representing the nine avatars of Goddess Durga are prayed to. Their feet are washed, they are given food and money.

“As a kid, I remember, I and my friends would eagerly be waiting for Navratri!  We genuinely felt like goddesses! During the kanjak puja! Everything was about us, it was an amazing feeling to be linked to a goddess”. Says Shivani Nagapukar.

In some parts of India, such as Assam, West Bengal and Bihar this festival is also referred to as “Durga Puja”. This festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura a demon who represents egotism. There are many stories surrounding this incident, but the most famous one being, that Mahishasura, received a boon by Lord Brahma himself.  According to the boon, he could not be killed either by a “Man” or “animal”. After receiving this boon, he thought that no one could kill him and hence started to put his evil plans into play.

Seeing all his dreadful deeds, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva got together and gave birth to “Durga”. Who later was the one who killed Mahishasura.  This is the main reason due to which goddess Durga is also called “Mahishasur Mardini”.
This festival is a true projection of woman power.  Therefore, teaches us to respect women.

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