The Hindu holiday of Navratri, which translates to “nine (nav) nights” (ratri) in Sanskrit, is observed over nine nights in the autumn. In a diverse country like India, every region is distinctive, whether it be in terms of language, cuisine, or culture. Even though Saraswathi, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, is honoured in some south Indian regions during Navratri, which is traditionally devoted to the goddess Durga. Traditionally, the central theme of the holiday is the triumph of good over evil, though celebrations vary by region due to local customs and traditions.
In Himachal Pradesh, the first day begins with a large celebration, and the statue of Lord Raghunath, a local deity, is mounted on a gorgeously crafted chariot that is carried by the locals from its spot to different sites across the city using ropes. Celebrations of Navratri begin on the tenth day of Kullu Dusshera, which commemorates Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya. The festival comes to a close with the well-known performance of Lankadahan (the burning of Lanka) along the Beas River.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Ramleela, a retelling of Lord Ram’s life from the Hindu epic Ramayana, is performed in theatres, temples, and outdoor stages. As a sign of the defeat of evil, Ravana and his brothers Kumbhakarna and Meghanada are burned as relics.
Giant-sized idols of the goddess Durga on her lion, the demon Mahishasur, Lord Ganesha, Kartikeya, and the goddesses Laxmi and Saraswati are constructed in large pandals throughout the states. The main holiday celebrated by the people of West Bengal is Durga Puja. The favorite part of the puja is going to the Maha Aarti every night while the dhol is playing in the background and experiencing the trance-like state that many people feel.
In Rajasthan, the well-known Dussehra Mela commemorates Navratri (fair). A 72-foot Ravana effigy, which is the highest in all of India, is also set ablaze with fireworks.
Gujarat has a distinct tradition for Navratri celebrations. Garba Raas is a dance performed by men and women around a Durga idol known as a garbo. Women who are fasting offer their prayers each night to an earthen pot that is lighted by diyas (candles). The pot, or garbo, represents the source of life, while the light represents shakti (power).
Mysore Dasara, also known as the Nadahabba or the state festival of Karnataka, is observed in Mysore with great fanfare and delight. It follows the same customs that were established by King Raja Wodeyar I in 1610. The royal sword is placed on a throne to be worshipped and then led by elephants and horses in a procession on Mahanavami. On the tenth day of the festival, known as Dashami, the goddess Chamundeshwari, a representation of Durga, is carried around the city on an elephant.
In Kerala, 108 Durga temples are decorated in honour of Vijayadashmi, the final day of Navratri. On this day, Keralites worship the goddess Saraswati, and for two days afterwards, they leave books and other offerings in front of her statue. The celebration, which is steeped in Kerala’s unique culture and traditions, is a delightful experience for any visiting guest.
In the southern state of India, according to legend, friends and family gather to celebrate the three goddesses on three different days. The Hindu deities Laxmi and Saraswati are honoured during Navaratri in addition to Durga. The display of kolu (figurines of dolls) is another tradition distinctive to Tamil Nadu’s Navaratri celebrations. On the Mahanavami (Ninth) day, Ayudha Puja is also performed with great grandeur in several regions of Tamil Nadu. On this day, along with Goddess Saraswati, decorations and worship are performed for agricultural tools, literature, musical instruments, machines, and automobiles.
Women in Telangana pray to Mother Gauri, the good goddess, for marital bliss during the Navratri festival. Unmarried women attend communal services to meet potential husbands. The Telugu phrase “Mother Goddess, Come Alive!” is translated as “Bathukamma Panduga”.
Due to its extensive cultural diversity, India is proud to be known as the “Land of Festivals”. Even though the country’s many festivals have a variety of meanings, they all share the commonality of being breathtaking sights to see.