Sunday, October 21, 2007

Navratri History:

The practice of goddess worship was prevalent in India since the time immemorial even before the advent of Aryans. Our ancestors have always placed Devi or Stree (as she was referred to) into the highest pedestal of the prevalent social system at that time and they worshipped her as Shakti. There are references in our Shastras which confirms the existence of such practices. There are several myths and legends associated with celebration of this Navratri Festival.
As per one legend Mahishasura the mighty demon worshipped Lord Shiva and obtained the power of eternity. So he started to kill and harass innocent people and set out to win seven lokas. Intimated by his power all the gods from swargaloka appealed to Lord Shiva to tame the demon. Then Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar (Shiva) united their supreme powers and created a divine being called Shakti or Durga the Warrior Goddess. Mahishasura who happened to see this divine beauty Durga got mesmerized by her beauty and approached her with the intention of marriage. Goddess Durga agreed to marry him but in one condition that Mahishasura should win over her in duel. Mahishasura who was proudy of his power agreed for the duel. The duel went on for 9 nights and the end of 9th night Goddess Durga beheaded Mahishasura. So the nine nights for which the war was fought is called Navrathri. The tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadashmi.

According to other legend King Daksha of Himalayas had a beautiful and Virtuos daughter Uma who had a wish to marry Lord Shiva. As a result she worshipped Lord Shiva and pleased him. Lord Shiva married Uma. Once Uma visited her parents to participate in a Yagna conducted over there, during that time King Daksha insulted Lord Shiva unable to bear the insults meted on her husband Uma decided to end her life by jumping into the agnikund where she was united with the eternity. Henceforth she was also known as Sati. Sati was reborn again and peace was restored between her and parents. In that birth also she married Lord Shiva and lived happily thereafter. It is believed that Sati comes to stay with her parents for 9 days in every year and that time is celebrated as Navarathri.

One hypothesis states that in ancient times Kshatriyas debarred themselves from participating any warlike activities during monsoon season. Once monsoons got over they found the time to start afresh with their war activities. So before the start of their war journey these Kshatriyas worshipped different aspects of Devi for 9 days which is today celebrated as the Navratri.

According to one legend Lord Rama who wanted to release Sita from the clutches of mighty demon king Ravana prayed Goddess Durga in nine aspects for nine days in order to gather the strength and power to kill Ravana. Those nine nights became to be known as Navrathri and on the tenth day Rama killed Ravana that day is called Vijayadashmi or Dashera.

Nine different manifestations of Durga are worshipped during Navratri they are:

Durga :goddess beyond reach

Bhadrakali the auspicious power of time
Amba or Jagdamba: mother of the world
Annapurna: giver of food and plenty
Sarvamangala: auspicious goddess
Bhairavi: terrible, fearful, power of death
Chandika or Handi: violent, wrathful, furious
Lalita: playful
Bhavani: giver of existence.

Navarathri Puja is done differently on the all nine days. Here is the way by which Navratri Pooja is performed traditionally (Some customs may vary from region to region)
- Kalash Sthapana
- Devata Pooja
- Sapta Sati Pooja
- Akhanda Deepa
- Mala Bandhana
- Upavasa (During day time)
- Suvasini Pooja
- Kumari Pooja
Modern Garba:
Sthrotra Mantra HomaModern Garba is also heavily influenced by Raas a dance traditionally performed by men. It is performed on 9 nights, 'Navratri' to Goddess Ambica, where women dance gracefully in circles sometimes also using, 'Bedu, Kanjari' or just 'Taali' and 'Chapti'. The word Garba is derived from the word Garba Deep meaning a lamp inside a perforated earthen pot. The light inside the perforated earthen pot symbolized the embryonic life. In this folk dance, ladies place the pot with the lamp on their heads and move in circles, singing in time measure by clapping their palms or snapping their fingers, to the accompaniment of folk instruments. Formerly associated with the legend of Krishna, Garba is now a regular feature during the Navratri puja (nine nights in honor and worship of the goddess Durga)
Raas which is supposed to belong to Kutch and Saurashtra is performed all over Gujarat. The Raas traditions are as old as the Puranic period. In various parts of the country, Raas are danced in different manners. The main feature of Raas is dancing in a circle by men and woman, to the accompaniment of musical instruments and keeping time either by clapping or beating of two sticks.

The number of dancers goes from 8, 16, and 32 up to 64 couples, who also sing the song. There are three varieties of Rasaka described. Danda Rasaka-Rasa dance where Danda or sticks and it is usually known as Dandiya Raas

This is my contribution for the JFI Special edition "Navratri Festival” hosted by Vee of Past,Present and Me.


Anonymous said...

Good job Kajal ben, khub sundar navratri vishe lekh aapyo tame, navratri vishe aatli baddhi maahiti aaje mali. Mari nani R ne hu jaroor thi vanchaavish. Khub khub abhaar tamaaro.


Apple said...

That was a great write-up Kajal...very informative...

Happy cook said...

I learned more about Navarathri from you post. Thankyou

musical said...

Happy Navaratri, Kajal. Lovely post. I like the raas picture a lot!

TBC said...

Best wishes for the festival season, Kajal:-)

Cynthia said...

Thanks so much for this info. Happy Navratri to you and the familu.

Vcuisine said...

Quite informative Kajal. Hope you recovered fully. Take care. Is it your paintings? Lovely they are. Viji


Thanx for sharing this informations and beautiful pictures..!
Glad you are back:))

Sirisha Kilambi said...

Kajal....A very informative post dear......Liked ur write-up and the photos as well :-)

Vee said...

Kajal, That is a very informative post.
I have lived all my life in bombay and participated in so many garbas but I never knew about them in so much detail.

Thanks for posting!

Rohini's kitchen said...

Nice write-up.Happy navarathri..

remya said...

enjoyed reading ...really informative...thanku

Menu Today said...

Hi Kajal,

Good information about North Indian Navarathiri festival.Nice write-up.
Take care of your health.

Priyanka said...

Happy navratri Kaajal. i tried your bharwa bhindi recipe. Turned out awesome.

sagari said...

nice post kajal

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Cynthia said...

Kajal, can you email me please: I have some follow-up questions I'd like to ask about the paratha post here:


Kajal said...

Thank you my all blog Friend :-)

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sunitha said...

Hi Kajal,

I happended to see your website just today and fell in love with all your recipes. I am a great fan of gujrathi food and it was nice to find authentic gujarathi dhokla, handvo recipes...

Your henna designs are fabulous and so is your hand-made purse.

I searched your site for the recipe of Undhiyu but couldn't find it. It would be nice if you can post the recipe for undhiyu some time soon. Also, if you make your own garam masala powder at home, kindly post that too. Thanks.

New Jersey

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Genial brief and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you seeking your information.

Monisha-Lester said...

Hi Kajal,
Can i please have authentic Undhiya recipe please ....

Anonymous said...



I had seen your pics..

Its too good.

I need your help for development of navratri poster for one events.

Kindly contact...

Dr.Chirag Shah