navaratra


navaratra
In Hinduism, a 9-day festival followed on the 10th day by the dasehra celebration.

The festival includes feasting, visiting, public concerts, plays, and fairs. Among the goddess Durga's followers, who are especially numerous in Bengal and Assam, the Durga-puja is celebrated during this period; in other parts of India, dasehra is associated with the victory of Rama over Ravana, acted out in a pageant climaxed by the burning of effigies of demons.

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▪ Hindu festival
Sanskrit  Navarātra  

      (“nine nights”), in Hinduism, a festival of nine days occurring during the month of Asin, or Aśvina (September–October). It usually ends with the dasehra, or daśahara, celebration on the 10th day.

      Among followers of the goddess Durgā (Durga), who are particularly predominant in Bengal and Assam, the Durgā-pūjā (“Rite of Durgā”) is celebrated during this period. Special images of Durgā commemorating her victory over the buffalo-headed demon Mahiṣāsura are worshiped daily, and, on the 10th day (dasehra), they are taken in jubilant processions to nearby rivers or reservoirs for immersion in water. In addition to family feasting and visiting, the puja, or ritual, days are also celebrated with public concerts, recitations, plays, and fairs.

      In other parts of India, the 10th day, dasehra, is associated with the victory of the god Rāma (Rama) over the demon-king Rāvaṇa. In North India the Rām Līlā (“Play of Rāma”) is the highlight of the festival. On successive nights different episodes of the epic poem the Rāmāyaṇa are dramatized by young actors elaborately costumed and masked; the pageant is always climaxed by the burning of huge effigies of the demons. Athletic tournaments and hunting expeditions are often organized.

      Many other, lesser observances are associated with the festival of navaratra in varying ways across the country. On the first day of navaratra, a rite is celebrated in honour of the goddess of learning, Sarasvatī (Sarasvati), in which she is worshiped together with the sacred books of the house; this is a favourite observance among the Bengali population of India. In parts of Mahārāshtra, the fifth day is given to the worship of the goddess Lalitā and is known as Lalitā-pañcamī (“Lalitā's Fifth Day”).

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Universalium. 2010.

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