The story of Navratri and Dussehra
Navratri, the nine sacred days, is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine avatars. It is one of the most sacred festivals in Hinduism where we worship Goddess Durga or Shakti in her nine beautiful forms with great reverence. Navratri is celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm. During the nine days, there is a feeling of festivity in the air.
Different parts of India celebrate Navratri in different styles. The thing that is common is its grandeur and auspiciousness. Some fast, others feast. Some people fast for the entire nine days. They eat only fruits and drink milk. Some eat just one meal a day, which is prepared without using onion and garlic. Those who do Navratri vrat are not allowed to consume alcohol, no smoking and should not eat eggs and non-vegetarian food. The house and the Puja room should be kept clean as you are inviting Goddess Durga into your house.
All people celebrate Navratri. In some South Indian states, people arrange dolls in their home like a miniature museum. This is called kolu. One diya is burned in the Puja room throughout the nine days. One red cloth and one coconut are kept in the Puja room. They also keep red sindoor, bangles, Kajal and anklets in the Puja room as these things denote auspiciousness.
In Gujarat, during Navratri nights people do Dandiya and Garba, a beautiful folk dance wearing colourful dresses. In West Bengal, Odisha, Tripura, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Gujrat Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja in praise of Goddess Durga. It celebrates both the victory of truth and greatness of feminism. During this period, the three forms of Goddess Durga – Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are invoked.It starts on the sixth day or Shashthi of Navratri and ends on Dashmi when the idol of the Goddess is immersed in water.
NAVRATRI SPECIAL FOOD:
There are some special recipes which are prepared during Navratri. People cook this and distribute it as bhog to their neighbours and friends. The most popular food prepared during Navratra is the Bhog or Prasada. It may vary from region to region but its significance remains the same. In some parts, the Bhog offered differs on every day. Ghee, Sugar, Milk or Kheer made of milk, Malpua, Banana, Honey, Jaggery, Coconut and Til are offered on nine days respectively. The bhog offered in South India is known as Sundal. This is basically a dry lentil or legume preparation spiced and tempered with fresh coconut. Kala chana, safedchana, rajma and green peas are used for this.
Those who follow Navratri upvas should abstain from onion, garlic, eggs, meat, fish and alcohol. They should avoid lentils and legumes too. They can eat fruits, dry fruits, milk and milk products. Special flour and grains are allowed. Tapioca or Sabudana is also a very popular thing eaten during the festival. It can be made into a sweet pudding with milk, savoury khichadi or fried cutlets with mint chutney.Upvas food should be cooked using ghee, peanut oil or groundnut oil.
Dussehra or Vijayadashmi is the 10th day and it marks the end of Navratri. It means the victory of good over evil. Dussehra marks the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. People make special food like Jalebi, BesanLadoo and Mysore Pak to celebrate Dussehra. Kheer and Poori, vegetables without onion, garlic are also made in most houses. In some places, on Vijayadashmi day tools, weapons, vehicles and productive instruments are maintained, decorated, thanked and worshipped. Ram Leela recalling the life of Lord Rama is the most loved and popular way of people celebrating the festival of Dassara across the country.
All festivals in India are celebrated with special and unique festival food. Special dishes are made for these festivals. Most people are having a very busy life running between office and home. They do not find enough time to cook special recipes for festivals.
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