The Nine Nights of Navratri and Durga

Navaratri is the festival of nine days and nights held during Durga Puja. It takes place during the new moon in October. Indians celebrate the event for 10 days, during which there are rituals of fasting. This festival was a simple act of thanksgiving for the Vedic God Indra. He was responsible for the much awaited seasonal rains. Later, it acquired more complex connotations, such as the victory of good over evil.

The mourning of Ishtar for Tammuz is the mythical origin of fasting in the main religions. The fertility of the earth got expressed by her son Tammuz. At the death of her beloved son, the Goddess and women mourned.

Aphrodite's mourning for Adonis or Ishtar for Tammuz or Isis for Osiris give rise to fasting. Navratri, in fact is one of the most important religious ceremonies in India. It comes from mourning for the death of Tammuz.

The mourning resembles that of Demetra for Persephone. In short, the myth is more ancient than the Indian one. And what does it mean? It means or behind it there is a hidden symbolism.

In the myth of Demetra and Persephone, we can trace the origins of one of the most familiar aspects of nature. It is the dark melancholy and decay of autumn and the brightness. Ramadan is one of the most important religious ceremonies in the Islamic world. Ishtar reigned over seasonal cycles.

The nine goddesses of Navratri are Navdurga. Their names are Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri.

In Gujarat, a special kind of dance called Dandiya or Garba takes place. People dance with two small sticks to the rhythms of devotional music. It takes place in public places. Men and women of all ages take part in this dance in traditional costumes. It is a collective dance involving hundreds of women, dancing in concentric circles. They move at a steady pace, around the image of a mother goddess.

Women clap their hands and sing. They dress in the colorful costumes called Chaniya choli and the veil, the dupatta. They also wear several necklaces, bracelets, earrings and waist straps. In Vadodara, there is also another traditional dance reserved for men only. During the dandiya raas, men dance with small sticks, colorful dandiyas.

In Punjab, people fast and chant Durga Bhajans and religious songs called Jagrata. The most important ones are in Mysore (Karnataka), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Kullu (Himachal Pradesh). Spectacular Durga Puja is in Calcutta (Bengal).

In scriptures, Navratri takes place in spring, so it is also known as Vasant Navaratri. In some regions, it is customary to attend the reading of the Ramayana.

Chaitra Navratri concludes with Ram Navami or Basanti Puja. The ninth day is Ram Navami also called Ram Navratri.

Rama invoked Durga during autumn to get her blessing in the fight against Ravana. For this, the celebrations of Durga Puja and Navratri move from Chaitra to Ashwin.

Today, Ram Navratri takes place in North India and includes various forms of worship of Durga. In processions, parades take place with statues of Sita, Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman.