Celebrating the Hindu Festival of Navratri
Navratri is a nine night annual festival in the Hindu faith and is considered to be the most celebrated Hindu festival. It is devoted to the worship and celebration of the goddess Durga who is the symbol of power and purity in addition to representing the victory of good over evil. Although goddess Durga is commonly celebrated and worshiped during Navratri, different regions celebrate other goddesses during the nine day festival including the goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth, prosperity, good fortune and beauty) and the goddess Saraswati (the goddess of music, arts, wisdom and nature). Navratri finishes on the last day with the celebration of Ram Navami which is a full day dedicated to the celebration of Lord Rama who is the 7th incarnation of Dashavatara of Vishnu. Ram Navami is one of the most important festivals for the Hindu faith.
A Variety of Ways to Observe the Holiday
Navratri and Ram Navami include a lot of festivities and celebrations in addition to prayers and other religious ceremonies. Temples and shrines see a large volume of worshipers during this time who arrive to recite prayers, worship and devote time to other religious ceremonies. In addition to religious activities, Navratri is also a time to celebrate and worship through music, food and other events. Different regions typically have different ways to celebrate the festival but the emphasis is a direct connection with goddess Durga and Lord Rama that includes full delight and pleasure throughout the scheduled festival.
During Navratri, Hindu devotees will normally partake in a Navratri fast that includes eating mostly fruits throughout the day and eating one small meal at night. During the Navaratri fast, devotees will focus on vegetarian food only and avoid eating garlic and onions.
Nine Nights of Celebrations
Many areas increase their celebrations as Navratri progresses and worshipers will be involved with cultural events that include dancing (Garba is the typical type of dance performed nightly throughout Navratri) and devotional singing. Idols are heavily worshiped during this time and different types of idol worship include life like idols that are worshiped and then sunk into water, setting idols in sanctified places or places that have been set aside and also effigies being burnt. Some regions include parades and special decorations.
Navratri is one of the most important times in the Hindu calendar and is a way for devotees to connect themselves with extremely important figures of the Hindu faith. Ram Navami falls on April 8, 2014 which is the 9th day of the Hindu lunar year.