India is a land well known for its colorful traditions and cultures. It is the festivals of India that gives it a global identity. Across the country there are different ways of celebrating the festival. There are several names and stories behind the celebration of this very special festival of India. People fast for nine long days and they enjoy every moment of the festival. Durga Pooja is commonly known as Navratri in northern and western India. The meaning of Navratri is nine nights, as the festival lasts for nine nights and ten days hence the precious nine nights are celebrated with full devotion. There are different ways of celebrating Navratri across India. We are mentioning here four very special Navratri or Durga Pooja celebrations in India.
West Bengal, Bihar, Assam: Here the festival is called as Durga Pooja. The Shakti roop of Maa Durga is worshiped during the nine days. The festival celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahisasur.
Punjab: Punjab observes a great pomp and show of Navratri. Punjabis fast for the first seven days of the Navratri. Honoring of all the reincarnated forms of goddess is the main inclusion of their pooja. They spend whole night by singing bhajans for Devi. On the Astami or the Navami, fasts are broken by inviting nine young girls from the neighborhood, who are honored with gifts including money, food etc. These girls, known as ‘kanjak’, are considered to be representations of the nine different avatars of Maa Shakti.
Gujarat: The western part of Gujarat celebrates the festival with nine days fasting and worshiping Maa Durga. Dandiya and Garba are the main attractions of the festival. In the evening, a garbi, an earthen pot with diyas symbolizing the source of life, is used for the evening arti. Garba and Dandiya dance performed by men and women are followed after arti.
Maharashtra: Navratri festival symbolizes new beginning in Maharashtra. It is considered the best time for buying property or making new business deals. Married women invite their married friends over; they apply haldi and Kumkum on their forehead and exchange Durga Pooja gifts.
Durga Pooja festival brings much vibrancy and enthusiasm in people. Everyone immerse themselves in the love and devotion of goddess Durga the avatar of Shakti. Exchanging Navratri gifts with loved ones is another auspicious tradition of the festival.