Navratri is one of the greatest Hindu Festivals, it symbolises the triumph of good over evil. As the name implies, this festival is celebrated for Nine days. The nine-day festival of Navratri or Navaratri in Hindu religion is held in honor of the nine manifestations of goddess Durga.
Navaratri is divided into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the supreme goddess. On the first three days, the Mother is invoked as powerful force called Durga in order to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects. The next three days, the Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees the inexhaustible wealth. The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the mother as the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order have all-round success in life, we need the blessings of all three aspects of the divine mother; hence, the worship for nine nights. On the tenth day, Known as Dusssehra Maa Durga in form of Maa Kali after nine days of fighting killed demon Mahisasura. Even Lord Ram killed Ravana on the same day. Hence Dusssehra also known as Vijayadashm is celebrated as Victory of good over evil
Navratri is celebrated by all Hindus, but its celebrated in different way in different parts of India.
Being Gujarati Navratri has always been special, Gujaratis will immerse themselves in Navratri and Dussehra celebrations with all-night dandia dances as we combine religion and devotion with recreation and fun. This is when Gujaratis young and old come on the streets in their traditional attire in a riot of colour. Chaniya Choli (Ghagra Choli) the long flowing skirt worn with a flowing 'odhni' or long stole, is the traditional costume worn on the occasion. Chaniya Cholis are bright in colour with beautiful embroidery and mirror work. Men wear the kedia, a high waist top.
A stack of Pots called 'Garbis/ Garbo' are painted with attractive designs and with diyas (lights) kept inside. These Garbis are ceremoniously placed in all houses.
Girls place these Grabis on their head and play 'Garba' the most popular women's folk dance on Nine days of Navratri. Garba is performed before the 'aarti' as devotional performance in honour of the goddess. The other popular dance form is the dandia dance -- where men and women join a dance circle, holding small polished sticks or dandias. As they whirl to the music, they strike the dandias in rhythm.The origin of Ras and Garba is traced back to legends connected with the life of Lord Krishna.So popular are the garba and the dandia-ras in Mumbai and Gujarat that competitions are held to assess the quality of the dancing. During School days I used to participate in these Dandiya - Ras competition and used to wear nine different Chaniya Cholis on Nine days. In my society we used to organise various cultural events during Navratri. But all this replaced these days by commercial Events organised by Event Management Companies.
In South India, different manifestations of the Mother Goddess are worshipped during the Navratri ‘Bommai Kolu’ festival. Clay dolls of mythological characters are arranged beautifully on tiers of five or seven steps and displayed artistically with ‘kolam’ or ‘rangoli’ designs on the floor.
Durga Puja is widely celebrated in West Bengal, where it is a five-day annual holiday. Not only it is the biggest Hindu festival celebrated throughout the State, but also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society. Various Pandals are set up, and city is adorned with lights. After the four days of Puja, on Dashami , the last day, a tearful farewell is offered to the Goddess. Most of the community pujas postpone the farewell as long as possible and arrange a grand send-off. The images are carried in processions around the locality and finally is immersed in a nearby river or lake.
Navratri fast is observed during nine days, people eat Vrat food during these ninc days. Even I have observed fast for Maa Durga. And only one dish clicks our mind during fast and that is one and only Sabudana / Sago / Tapioca Khichdi. Even on the days I am not fasting I relish Sabudana Khichdi. A typical Maharashtrain snack is really a treat for my test buds. Back in my hometown Mumbai, everyone in my society was aware about my liking for Sabudana Khichdi, so the day it is being prepared at someone's place, it is being parceled at my place too specially for me.
500 g. Sabudana / Tapioca/ Sago
2 Medium sized Chopped Potatoes
1/2 Cup of Grounded Roasted Peanuts
2 finely Chopped Green Chillies
1 Teaspoon of Sugar
2 Teaspoon of Cumin seeds
2 Teaspoon of Coriander - Cumin Powder (Optional)
2-3 Curry leaves
1 Tablespoon of Ghee / Oil
Salt to taste / Sindhav (Rock Salt)
Grated Coconut (Optional)
1. Wash Sabudana and then soak them for 5 - 6 hrs. Once the Sabudana is soaked drain them for 1 - 2 hrs, so that excess water is removed and they dont turn out sticky.
2. Once the Sabudana are drained completely, mix with the drained Sabudana salt / Sindhav, sugar, Grounded roasted peanuts and coriander - cumin powder if using the same. This helps to mix the masala with sabudana as sabudana becomes sticky if they cooked for long over the gas. So I practice mixing all masalas with the sabudana before they are cooked over the gas. While fasting I prefer using Sindhav (Rock salt) instead of salt.
3. Heat the vessel with the ghee, add cumin seeds. Once they start spluttering add curry leaves and chopped green chillies, chopped potatoes and a pinch of salt/sindhav.
4. Once the potatoes are cooked add masala mixed sabudana and mix well with the potato mixture. Cover with the lid for 2 minutes. Don't cook sabudana for long as they become very sticky.
5. Once the sabudana becomes soft and they change the colour, remove it from the gas. Garnish with chopped coriander and grated fresh coconut and serve with simple curd.
Here's my entire post for Lakshmi's Navratri and Navratri Food Event