Navratri (the nine nights of Goddess Durga) is a time when India is drenched with the celebration of the feminine divine. It is dedicated to the nine forms of the Goddess. The festival is celebrated with a fervour which is rarely seen on any other festival of the country as during these nine holy days, people observe fasting in a celebratory mood. Each day during this nine-day festival is special and stands for a particular incarnation of Goddess Durga and the diverse festivities are unique to every part of the country.
Here are some of the must-visit destinations one can go during the festival season and enjoy the celebratory season.
Kolkata is famous for its Navratri or Durga Puja celebrations. The whole city observes a large gathering full of Pandals, food and colour. The festivities begin a week ahead of the festival, with all the Bengalis gearing up to welcome their supreme Goddess. The fun part begins from the fifth day of Navratri. People visit different pandals to embrace decoration and events. The best part of Durga puja is the relishing bhogs.
Navratri in Ahmedabad is celebrated with gaiety and fervor. The main highlight of the festivity of nine nights is the folk songs and beats of dhol and garba sticks, supported by buffets of lavish vegetarian fare. Each day of the fiesta begins with the performance of aarti. Stadiums, parks and all open spaces during these days are turned into massive dance grounds where youth dressed in vibrant chaniya cholis, kediyus and kafni pajamas converge in hordes to match steps with spirited singers belting out traditional numbers.
The land of temples, Varanasi gains a special cultural relevance during Navratri season as it is also the time for the staging of ‘Ramnagar Ram leela’, the oldest in the world. Started in the 1800s, the theatrical storytelling of Ramayana was initiated by the Maharaja of Varanasi. It is the traditional form of presenting Ramleela and continues to this day in its traditional format. Celebrated for 31 days, Ramnagar turns into Ayodhya and episodes from the epics are performed.
Bastar in Chhattisgarh is very famous for its special and fascinating Dusshera. It is all about tribes, their Maharaja and their Gods and Goddesses. Celebrated for 75 days, it is the longest festival in the world. The place will show you tribal customs that did not change, like their devotion to music, dance, song, magic and use of sacred instruments. These rituals are known to be followed from the last 400 years.