Navaratri: When Devi Comes Home documents this diversity in tradition, each specific to one particular part of the country. But, taken together, they resonate with the themeya devi sarva-pradesheshu puja-rupena samsthita.
This is the first ever compilation of living customs, culture and conventions that make the canon of Devi Mahatmya and Devi Bhagavatam come alive and thrive through diverse expressions.
ANURADHA GOYAL studies the intersection of her three prime interests-business innovation, travel and Indic knowledge-by writing about them in books, blogs and columns. She is the founder of Indi Tales, a leading bi-lingual travel media portal where she documents her global travels in words, audio and video formats with a focus on ancient India. She is also the author of Lotus in the Stone: Sacred Journeys in Eternal India (2020), Unusual Temples of India (2020) and The Mouse Charmers; Digital Pioneers of India (2014), and the translator of Ayodhya Mahatmya (2021) from Skanda Purana.
In some form or other, Navaratri is celebrated throughout India,
and even abroad, wherever Indians and the Hindu influence
have spread. Navaratri brings to mind the visual of colorful
and energetic Garba from the western coast of India and, at the same
time, the warm enthusiasm of Durga Puja pandals from the eastern
parts. Talk to Indians from any nook and corner of the country and
they will tell you their own ways of celebrating these auspicious
nine days and nights.' Like most things Indian, there is a common
thread that runs across all Navaratri celebrations around India. The
manifestations of expressions, though, are as varied as they can get.
If we could zoom into the festivities, we would find a unique version
of celebrations that is followed in each community or, perhaps,
even each family. Most of us know our version of Navaratri, the way
we celebrate it. Other popular versions of celebrations are more of
trends that we sometimes follow and enjoy with people around us,
and the not so popular versions remain undiscovered.
People sometimes say 'Navaratra' Since the word is 'ratri' in
Sanskrit, and of the feminine gender, the occasion should really
be called Navaratri, not Navaratra. Navaratri simply means nine
nights-nine nights that are special. Festivals are decided according
to the lunar day (known as tithi) and lunar month, not the solar
calendar. The lunar tithi does not necessarily correspond exactly
to the solar day. These nine lunar tithis are known as Pratipada,
Dvitiya, Tritiya, Chaturthi, Panchami, Shashthi, Saptami, Ashtami
and Navami: the first lunar day to the ninth. Of course, festivities
can culminate on the following Dashami, the tenth day.
Every paksha (lunar fortnight) has this cycle of nine days and
nine nights. The moon waxes during shukla paksha (the bright
lunar fortnight) and wanes during krishna paksha (the dark lunar
fortnight). Krishna paksha is considered to be the time of the pitris
(ancestors or manes). Therefore, typically, no worship of Devas
and Devis takes place during krishna paksha.' That occurs during
shukla paksha. Hence, though there is a Navaratri cycle in krishna
paksha too, Navaratri celebrations occur in shukla paksha, in the
paksha that begins with Pratipada and ends with purnima.' Those
12 shukla paksha Navaratris every year are therefore special. Four of
these are more popular than others-(l) Sharada/Ashvina Navaratri;
(2) Vasanta/Chaitra Navaratri; (3) Magha Navaratri and (4) Ashada
Navaratri, named after the lunar months of Ashvina (September/
October), Chaitra (March/April), Magha (January/February) and
Ashada (June/July). Of these, Magha and Ashada Navaratris are
known as Gupta Navaratris, the word 'gupta' meaning hidden or
secret. Therefore, Devi is worshipped during these two Navaratris,
respectively in winter and during the monsoon, but that worship
is not openly done. That leaves Ashvina Navaratri and Chaitra
Navaratri, corresponding to autumn and spring.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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