'Nav' means 'nine' and 'ratri' means 'night', thus, 'Navratri' means 'nine nights'. There are many legends attached to the conception of Navratri like all Indian festivals but all of them are related to Goddess Shakti (Hindu Mother Goddess) and her various forms. Though it is one of the most celebrated festivals of Hindu calendar, it holds special significance for Gujratis and Bengalis and one can see it in the zeal and fervor of the people with which they indulge in the festive activities of the season. The first three days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Durga (Warrior Goddess) dressed in red and mounted on a lion, next three to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity) dressed in gold and mounted on an owl and finally, last three to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess Of Knowledge) dressed in milky white and mounted on a pure white swan.
Dandiya and Garba Rass are the highlights of the festival in Gujarat
while farmer sow seeds and thank the Goddess for her blessings and pray
for better yield. In olden times, this festival was associated with the
fertility of Mother Earth who feed us as her children. Sweetmeats are
prepared for the celebrations and children and adults dress up in new
bright-colored dresses for the night performances. With
commercialization, the festival has moved on to be a social festival
rather than a religious or agrarian festival. In some communities people
undergo rigorous fasts during this season that lasts for the nine days
of the festival, only to be opened on the tenth day of Dussehra.
However, nothing dampens the spirit of the devout followers of Mother
Goddess as they sing devotional songs and indulge in the gaieties of the
season. This year celebrate Navratra from September 29th, 2008.