The Navratri Festival is in honour of our ultimate feminine divine energy The Goddess Durga. The Navratri is one of the major Hindu festivals celebrated in India. This festival is celebrated twice a year during the change of seasons. It occurs once during spring, as the winter changes to summer and second during autumn as the summer changes to winter.
Currently, we are celebrating the Navratri festival of the month of Chaitra. The last day of the nine-day festival during Chaitra is known as Ram Navami as it is believed that the Lord Rama was born on the ninth day of the Chaitra Navratri.
The legend is that all the Gods or Devas came together and created Goddess Durga or Shakti from their combined powers to overtake the demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura had become very powerful, as he was a devout devotee of Lord Shiva. His arrogance had created havoc in the Devas world. The battle between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura is said to have lasted nine days. Hence, for these nine days, Navratri is celebrated and the nine forms of the Goddess Durga are worshipped.
Praying and fasting marks the Navratri festival. The consumption of non-vegetarian food, drinking of alcohol and smoking of cigarettes is strictly prohibited for the devotees. Onion and garlic is also avoided.
According to the Hindu belief system, the Saatvik diet is adopted for the Navratri fasts. The seasonal changes that occur during this time frame cause a decline in immunity and switching to a lighter diet of Saatvik food lessens the burden on our digestive systems.
Saatvik food means pure, natural and clean food. The fasting foods include fresh fruits, yogurt, milk, seasonal vegetables like pumpkin and bottle gourd (also known as lauki) and rock salt. The flours allowed for fasting are all gluten free, such as Buckwheat flour (kuttu), water chestnut (singhara), amaranth (rajgira) and millet (saame). All these foods are not only light on the digestive systems but are also considered to increase concentration and keep the mind pure for prayers.
The Goddess Durga is majorly worshipped in three of her main manifestations during this festival. The first three days are dedicated to Mother Durga – the goddess of energy or strength, the next three days are devoted to Mother Lakshmi – the Goddess of wealth and prosperity and the last three days are for Mother Saraswati – the Goddess of knowledge and education.
The last day of the festival is marked with the kanya puja (Puja of the young pre-adolescent girl). The young girls are worshipped, their feet are washed, and Prasad in the form of puri, chana and halwa is offered to them.
The significance of Navratri and the message is of the victory of good over evil. The feminine energies are worshipped for strength and purity. These nine days are considered auspicious for all new ventures.
So, everyone has a Happy Ram Navami and may the coming year bring everyone good luck!
By Simrit Singh