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Navratri Utsav - 2023

Navratri, Where nav means nine and ratri means nights...

Navratri festival sacred to the Mother Goddess is celebrated in the months of October and November. It is a festival of worship, dance and music celebrated over a period of nine nights. It is celebrated from the first to the ninth date of Ashwin Shukla Paksha of the Hindu Calendar for the worship of the Goddess Durga. This festival commemorates the victory of Goddess Durga over a demon, Mahishasur.

During Navratri, devotees of Durga fast and pray for health and prosperity. It is an occasion for vibrant festivities. The Garba or Dandiya Raas is the most significant feature during the festival of Navratri. This is the traditional and folk dance of the state of Gujarat, but today, everyone performs this dance with great fervor and enthusiasm. During the dance, a decorated pot is ceremoniously placed with a light inside and the women folk dance in a circle, singing 'traditional songs' or 'garbas'.

Then there is a pooja on each day of this holy period where Goddess Durga, known in this state as Ambe Maa is worshipped for prosperity and happiness. During all the nine nights, men, women and children flock together in the street and peform Garba-Raas in circumambulation around the statue of devi, accompanied by religious songs eulogizing the Mother-Goddess in tune with instrumental music till late night which has deep socio-religious impact on the Hindu society. A Mandvi of the Goddess is framed by woodcarving in which a small idol of Mother Goddess is placed with a number of ghee lamps. The devotees put this Mandvi on their heads and maintaining balance, perform Garba-dance.

Gujarat is the cardinal center for the celebration of Navratri Mahotsava, where young men and women wearing traditional attire dance with zeal, joy, jubilation and devotional fervor, till late mid-night. Out of the nine forms of Mother-Goddess, the triumvirate of Mahakali, Maha-Laxmi and Maha-Sarasvati symbolize prowess, affluence and erudition - the most essential things for the prosperity and progress of mankind. the Mother-Goddess grants all these three to the devotees who observe Navratri in right spirit.

Newark Avenue, in the township of Jersey City, New Jersey set a unique example during Navratri, September/October, where more than fifteen thousand men, women and children play Garba-Raas on the street, all throughout the night, every night for 4-6 nights - a rare spectacle to be observed.