Navaratra – the nine-day festival of Navratri – is one of the most important festivals in
Gujarat. In 2013, Navratras begin on October 5. Navaratri here is popularly noted for the Dandiya Dance performance during the nine nights. Numerous pujas and rituals also take place during the nine-day period, which begins on the first day of Gujarati month Ashwin. Nine aspects of Durga is worshipped during the period and women wear nine different colors of Saris or dress. Nine different colours symbolically represent the nine different aspects of Mother Goddess.
The most important ritual during Navaratras in
Gujarat is the sowing of barley on a mud bed on the first day of Navratra. The barley seeds will become shoots and attain around 3-inch length by the tenth day (Vijaya Dasami) and it is distributed among friends and relatives.
The first three days of Navratri in
Gujarat is dedicated to Goddess Durga. Kumari, Parvati and Kali forms of Durga are worshipped on the first three days.
Next three days, from fourth to sixth day, is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi.
On the fifth day, there is special puja dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi and is known as Lalita Panchami. Display of books and other literature and special prayers are offered to Goddess of learning, Saraswati.
The last three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi. Prayers and pujas are performed to attain wisdom. On the eight day of the festival, that is the Ashtami day, Ghee (clarified butter), kheer (rice pudding) and sesame seeds are offered to Goddess Durga and a Yagna is performed.
On ninth day, which is the Mahanavami Puja day, Kanya Puja is performed – worship of nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga. The nine-day Navratri puja ends with this ritual.
The 10-th day is the Vijaya Dashami day and it celebrates the victory of Ram over Ravan and Goddess Durga over Mahisha.
From the first night of Navratri, costumed boys and girls, men and women, appear in community pujas, stages, schools, clubs etc and join in the Navratri Dandiya dance festival. Millions of other devotees pray and fast to evoke the blessings of Goddess. This perfect amalgamation of mirth and spirituality makes Navratras in Gujarat an unparalleled event.