Navratri is not just about DJ nights and Falguni Pathak songs. A lot more happens around India when Navratri comes around the corner, you just have to open yourself to it. Only when you step out and see the way Indians celebrate Navratri can you see all nine colors of this grand festival. Somewhere there are great processions while somewhere there are displays of stories of gods and goddesses, whatever be the type of celebration, one thing that remains constant is spirituality.
The entire country dresses up in festive colors when Navratri comes, right from Kullu in Himachal to Mysore in Karnataka. If you put on your backpack and start exploring, you’ll be fascinated with how diversely every other state celebrates Navratri. The festival doesn’t come without its food and traditional attires, so put on festive garb and get ready to experience the festival of the goddesses. To make it easier for you, here are 5 places to celebrate Navratri in India:
The festival of Navratri is a grand affair in Gujarat. It’s the only place in India where a nine-night dance festival is celebrated with great vigor. Called Ras Garba, this festival is more about Lord Krishna and his Gopis than about Goddesses. It’s believed that Krishna too danced with his Gopis in circles. People dance with complex moves with wooden sticks known as dandiyas in their hands. You’ll see men and women in colorful traditional attires called ghagra choli and dhoti, something that adds to the beauty of the festival.
The nine nights are divided into sets of 3, the first three are dedicated to Goddess Durga who slew the demon Mahishsura, the second set is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and the last three nights are devoted to Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. You’ll see Garba grounds and temples decked up for the festival.
Some cities that you must visit during Navratri are Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, and Surat. Locals and tourists put on a grand display on each of the nine nights. It’s not just dancing, look out for people performing with swords and flames.
Don’t miss the Gujarat Navratri Festival taking place in Ahmedabad on the GMDC ground. It’s attended by many people and is quite a large celebration that you’ll remember for days. There are food stalls that offer authentic Gujarati street food and stalls that sell traditional clothes and artifacts. You can visit the villages in Gujarat to see the kind of Navratri they celebrate, it’s different from the one celebrated in the cities and is more in unison with nature.
Preparations for Navratri start months prior to the festival in Kolkata. You’ll see statues of goddesses in process and huge pandals already waiting to be erected. The streets of Kolkata bathe in lights, pomp, and show as soon as Navratri arrives. Durga Pujo is the grandest celebration in all of West Bengal. There are processions of goddesses, people go pandal-hopping, and there is a holy bhog to be eaten at various places. A foreigner will think that the city is preparing for a carnival, such is the magic of Navratri in Kolkata.
The true beauty of the pandals can be seen at night. These pandals have themes based on mythology and narrate epic tales. Many pandals these days also depict themes of social issues. There are dance performances, women dance with lit earthen lamps in their hands. Some of the big Durga Pujo pandals are Ekdalia Evergreen, Kumartuli Park, Suruchi Sangha, etc. There are 10 days of festivities in Kolkata, people go shopping and eat Bengali sweets. It’s kind of a get-together where the entire city comes together in celebration and devotion.
You’ll be enraptured at the beautiful goddesses; they’re decorated in grand displays and are paraded throughout the city for all devotees to see before reaching the pandals. Apart from the statues of goddesses, there are statues of huge scary demons that shouldn’t be missed. After walking and seeing all the pandals when you get tired, relish some Mishti Doi, Sandesh, and Rasgullas.
Also read: The Durga Puja Experience
Himachal Pradesh is known as Dev Bhoomi because of the presence of 5 Shaktipeeths here. You’ll see a different kind of Navratri in Himachal Pradesh, especially in the Kullu Valley. While the rest of India is done with Navratri on the 9th day, it’s on the 10th day that you can see true festivities begin in Kullu. It’s called the Kullu Dussehra and is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after victory over Ravana.
You can see many small processions from every village; every procession ends in an open ground. You can see gods carried with much enthusiasm, decked with flowers and adornments. This is also the right time to visit the five Shaktipeeths in Himachal Pradesh which are Chintpurni, Naina Devi, Jawalamukhi, Bajreshwari Devi, and Chamunda Devi. All these temples of Goddess Durga are decorated with flowers during Navratri, there are fairs and performances around the temples which shouldn’t be missed.
You’ll see the grandest celebration at the Mata Bajreshwari Devi Temple in Kangra where thousands of devotees visit every year on Navratri. You can see locals greeting families and friends; the atmosphere will pull you in the mood for celebration. Back in the Kullu Valley, locals pull the beautifully decorated chariot of Lord Raghunath. The festival ends with the burning of Lanka called Lankadahan on the banks of the River Beas. This sight alone gives you a glimpse into how Navratri is celebrated in the hills of Kullu.
Also read: Places To Celebrate Navratri In India.
If you want to see culture and festivities come together in a unique blend, check out the Navratri in Delhi. Large crowds head over to the Ramlila Maidan to see artists enact episodes from the Ramayana. You can see actors performing stories from the holy scriptures every evening. And this isn’t limited to one maidan alone, you’ll see Ramayana enactments in every other lane and road in Delhi. People fast during the day and celebrate at night.
The temples are decorated and children and adults dress up in ghagra cholis and sherwanis visit their families and friends armed with sweets. If you want to see Navratri in full swing, head over to the Kalkaji Temple. This temple is decorated with lights and flowers and huge offerings are made to the goddess. The nine-day period sees grand aartis; you can see women dressed beautifully dancing and making merry around the temple. It’s the tenth day that is the most significant of all. On the tenth day, huge effigies of Ravana are burnt all over Delhi.
Large grounds are prepared for this much-awaited evening. It is a sight to remember when the 10-headed demon is burnt, signifying the victory of good over evil. Not a soul in Delhi is at home during this evening as all families want to witness the destruction of Ravana. You should leave your cameras behind and just watch the grand event unfolding with your eyes. As you stand between the crowd and see the demon king burn, it feels almost like a personal victory!
Also read: Awesome Places To Celebrate New Year In India.
As we talk of enactment of stories and display of mythology through Ramlila, let’s take a trip south and see their own display of mythology, called Kolu. But unlike in Delhi where it is humans depicting gods, Kolu is where idols of gods and goddesses are arranged on steps made for the purpose. You’ll see this kind of Kolu in every house, shop, and temple. These idols are placed such as to narrate a mythological story and the figurines are passed down generations.
Women put huge white rangolis in front of homes and temples to welcome the Navratri festival. While other states of India stress the worship of Goddess Durga or Goddess Lakshmi, in Tamil Nadu, there is more emphasis on the worship of Goddess Saraswati. People worship their kitchen tools, agricultural tools, books of accounts during Navratri in Tamil Nadu. You’ll see children worshiping their books and praying to Goddess Saraswati for knowledge.
If you want to see Navratri in full splendor, visit any temple. You can see dance performances, especially the ones where artists paint themselves as tigers and dance in temple halls. This dance form is called Pulikali (tiger dance), another dance form to look out for is Kai Silambu Attam where dancers perform with ankle bells and anklets in their feet and hands. If you go to any house during the nine-day festival, you won’t be sent back without gifts, coconuts, and prasad like the savory Chundal.
Also read: Places To Celebrate Christmas In India.
When you see the different ways in which Navratri is celebrated across India, you’ll be left in awe of its cultural diversity. It’s up to you how to spend it, eating the delicious prasad or photographing the decoration. Whatever you choose, you will always return home with loads of memories and stories you learned about Navratri in different places.
Why Is Navratri Celebrated?
Navratri is celebrated to honor Goddess Durga who defeated the demon Mahishasura in a battle. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil and is celebrated all over India.
Who Celebrates Navratri?
Hindus and Punjabis celebrate Navratri. While Hindus celebrate by worshipping the goddesses, celebrating and dancing during Navratri, Punjabis observe fast and pray to the goddess during Navratri.
How Long Is The Navratri Festival?
Navratri is celebrated for 9 nights and 10 days in Hindu month of Ashwin (which falls somewhere between October and November).
What Time Of The Year Is Navratri?
Navratri comes around the Ashwin month or usually in the month of October. Navratri is actually celebrated 4 times - Chaitra Navratri (around April), Shardiya Navratri (around October/November), Ashada (around July), and Magha Gupt Navratri (January/February). Out of them, the one that comes in Ashwin is the biggest Navratri celebration.
Which Places To See In Navratri In India?
Gujarat, Kolkata, Kullu, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Mysore are some of the places to see during Navratri in India. All these places celebrate Navratri with great pomp.
Which Gods Are Worshipped In Navratri?
The 9 avatars of Goddess Durga are worshipped in Navratri. In Bengal, even Lord Ganesha is worshipped in Navratri.
How Many Type Of Navratri Are There?
There are four types of Navratri and they are.
What Is The First Colour Of Navratri?
The first day of Navratri starts with the colour orange, because it is bright, energetic spreading positivity and happiness around.