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Navratri Festival in Rajasthan
Home >> Rajasthan Fairs and Festivals >> Navratri Festival in Rajasthan

INTRODUCTION
Navratri Festival coincides with the end of the rainy season. This season is considered to be an auspicious one as it is generally associated with the sowing of seeds, and watching new seeds sprout - a sign of prosperity and abundance. Most people consider it the best time of the year to undertake or start new ventures. The popularity of Navratri is unmatched because it is one of the major Fairs and Festivals of Rajasthan. It brings a gust of fresh air into the lives of man. The Navratri, Rajasthan therefore, provides a break from monotonous routine life. Hence, people welcome this festival with a happy heart, and waits for its arrival throughout the year. Navratri comes with the blessings of Goddess Durga, the slayer of the demon called Mahisasura.

THE LEGEND BEHIND THE CELEBRATIONS
This festival commemorates the victory of Goddess Durga over a demon, Mahishasur. Endowed with power by the blessing of Lord Shiva, the demon started destroying innocent people. The gods then invoked Goddess Durga and asked for her help. The goddess, astride a lion, fought with the demon and cut off his head.

A Mesopotamian inscription that dates to the period before Christ, describes the Mother Goddess as "the remover of the calamities of the people". The Egyptian Goddess Isis, Ishtar of Babylon and Ijani of Sumer bear a close resemblance to Amba, Kali and other goddesses of India.

DESCRIPTION
Navratri Festival is regarded as one of the most holy and revered festivals of the Hindus. Lasting for a period of nine days, the festival is dedicated to Goddess Shakti. Also known as the Divine Mother, the Goddess assumes many forms. Three of her forms consist of Goddess Durga (destructive), Goddess Lakshmi (protective) and Goddess Saraswati (knowledge). These three forms of Goddess Shakti are worshipped during the nine days of Navratri. The first three days are dedicated to Goddess Durga, the next three to the Goddess Lakshmi and the last three to Goddess Saraswati.

It signifies that Goddess Durga destroys all the evil thoughts of her devotees and cleanses their mind. Thereafter, Lakshmi inserts pure thoughts in the minds of the devotees. And finally, Saraswati bestows true knowledge to her devotees. The one thing that remains constant in most parts of the Rajasthan is that daytime is exclusively for prayers, fasting, and solemnity while the nights are spent in joy and revelry. Men, women, and children, who have fasted during the day, have a light repast of fruit or other non-cereals at night before going out to enjoy the festive season. Some people organize Jagrans to sing devotional songs all night in praise of the Mother Goddess. Solemnity and piety mark these nine days as even those people who do not keep a fast, stop eating non-vegetarian and impure food items like onion and garlic.

The festival of Navratras in Delhi, just like other cities, is observed twice a year. Once it is observed in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April) and the second time during the Aswayuja (September-October). On the last day of Navratri, people worship little girls and make offerings to them as it is believed that they are manifestations of goddess Durga. Navaratri celebrations in New Delhi, the capital of India also consist of the dance programs, known as Dandiya. The dancers move around in a circle, sometimes with different steps, in pairs or in groups around a lamp lighted to represent the Eternal Light of the Mother Goddess. In public squares, a garbi or mandvi (an ornate wooden, brass, silver of stainless steel frame), further decorated with shining tinsel and illuminated with dozens of twinkling oil lamps is placed in the center.

TIME TO CELEBRATE   
The Navratri Festival is celebrated in the month of March –April and September - October in Rajasthan.

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