top of page

During Navratri, many people observe fasts. In Hinduism, fast is observed throughout the year and are observed in various ways. The duration of fasts or the food restrictions depend on communities or families. Some don't eat anything for the entire day. Some drink only water or liquids. Some eat only fruits. In general, people eat restricted food. The main purpose of the fast is to spend the day with some spiritual act, purify the body and mind. I also look at fasting as an act of self-discipline.

 

Fasting food generally consists of ingredients rich in carbohydrates, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca, dairy products etc. This gives you enough energy to get through the day. When you are observing a fast for longer periods e.g. the nine-day Navratri fast, you need some different recipes.  This week I am sharing a recipe which is very tasty and easy to make during fasting but is also great to make anytime.

Chakra puja at another cousin's home
Navratri - Traditional Celebration of Women Empowerment
Navratri puja installation at my cousin's home

In Eastern Part of India, it is celebrated as Durga Puja. Different rituals are performed every day. It’s a very traditional celebration. In state of Gujarat is celebrated as Festival of Maa Amba. Along with the rituals and celebrations at home. Members of community come together and celebrate the nine nights by performing special dance called Garba. It’s a traditional folk dance where people form a circle and dance by clapping in a rhythm while singing songs but also played with sticks called ‘Dandiya’. Its very graceful dance form. Garba and Dandiya are no longer restricted to Gujarat and are very popular across the world.

In Maharashtra, along with traditional rituals, Navaratri is celebrated by performing ‘Bhondla’. It’s a celebration of lunar constellation called ‘Hasta’ which is seen during Navaratri time in the sky. It appears in the shape of elephant. Hence, the idol of an elephant is worshipped during this time. Girls form a circle around elephant idol and walk around idol in circles holding hands and singing traditional songs. Its called ‘Bhondla’. Everyone brings some special treat but it’s kept as a secret so at the end of Bhondla others have to guess what other person must have got.

Festival season continues. Indians all over the world are celebrating Navratri festival. 'Nav' means nine and 'Ratri' means night. This festival is celebrated over nine nights and 10 days.

This is a festival where Goddess Durga, to whom people address as Maa (mother) Durga with love, is worshipped.

It is believed that whenever demons created havoc on Earth, Goddess Durga rescued people from these demons. She was invited by the Gods either to kill the demons or help in some other way, such as a commander in chief. Every time she came to Earth, she appeared in different Avatars.

All her different avatars are worshipped over nine days, with a different one worshipped every day. Goddess demonstrates different characteristics in each of her avatars. In some manifestations, she appears to be very peaceful; in others, she appears in a very fierce avatar.

 

In every avatar, Goddess Durga is riding on different animal, has different weapons and symbolic items in her hands, such as lotus, rosary etc. Each avatar represents different characteristics and hence different colours are associated with each day. For example, on the first day, she is manifested as Mother Nature and symbolises strength. Hence the colour of the day is yellow, which is the colour of happiness and brightness.

 

This festival has been celebrated since ancient times. It is a true reflection of the culture of the time when it started, where women power was recognised and saluted. In Greek mythology, goddesses such as Athena, Olympia, Artemis etc. are worshipped for different reasons; similarly, Hindu goddesses are also worshipped for their various qualities, such as wealth, wisdom, and so on.

 

Every region has different rituals and customs that are followed during this time. One common thing among the rituals is the ‘Kalash Pujan’. Earthen or copper pot is installed and worshipped for nine days. It is assumed that it attracts all the negative energy in the surroundings and purifies the atmosphere. 

Kalash pujan at my cousin's home

It is a fun game especially for little girls. Women also participate in this celebration.

 

In South India, its celebrated as Golu where dolls and other idols, animals are installed on nine steps. It is celebration of Goddess Durga so traditionally these variety of idols representing court members and members of kingdom of Goddess Durga.

Ashtami means eighth day and is the most important day of Navratri, a special celebration. There are various beliefs about this day, making it special. Most communities also perform ‘Kumarika Pujan’, means worship young girls on this day. It is assumed that they are form of Goddess Durga, representing energy / creative force in the purest form. It’s a big celebration on my maternal side of the family. A big circle called chakra is made using different grains. Specific figures such as the moon, the sun etc. are drawn using grains. Lights made from wheat flour dough are placed on the chakra. Then, certain rituals including ‘Kumarika Pujan’ is performed. 

Featured Recipe

bottom of page