Navratri, one of the most auspicious festivals among Hindus, is celebrated twice a year with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm. The festival of Navratri is observed across north India and has a very special significance in the Hindu religion.
Navratri or Nine nights, is the longest Hindu festival of the year. The ninth day is celebrated as Ram Navami which is considered as the birth of Lord Ram. Navaratri is most widely celebrated in northern India. In Maharashtra, the occasion is celebrated as Gudi Padwa and Ugadi in South India.
Worshippers also install idols of the deity inside their home temples and observe fast for nine consecutive days. On the last day or Navami, devotees break their fast after offering prasad to the Goddess. During Navami people strictly avoid non-vegetarian food, onion and garlic as well. Gudi means flag and Padwa is known as the first day of the bright moon. This day is remembered as the victory of Chhatrapati Shivaji and his forces over infiltrators. On this glorious day, people of Maharashtra hoist flag or gudi. It is made of bamboo stick, decked with a beautiful ornament, dazzling clothes, garlands and over this an inverted copper pot can also be seen.
In southern India, Ugadi is acknowledged as the beginning of a new period. This beautiful day starts with the ritual bath and offering prayers to the lord. People decorate their homes with colourful flowers, mango leaves and share sweets and delicacies among them.
Another very famous ritual, which is predominantly performed across India is that on Ashtami and Navami people invite young girls to feed them delectable food. It is believed that washing the feet of these girls, before serving food, will wash away one’s sins.
This year, Chaitra Navratri will be celebrated from March 25th to April 2nd.