By Abhishek Pandey
The fasting and feasting is part of the ritual of these nine days. Jagrans, Bhajan gatherings, temple visits are parts of the activities of devotees during navratri. Dandiya nights are the recent trend, where couples dance and play dandiya whole night. Now, Dandiya is not only limited to temple premises. It has reached in five star hotels, resorts and dance clubs. Dandiya and Garba, which are dance forms of Gujarat, are played all over the country with high esteem of zest and enthusiasm. Many followers organize bhandara (meal for all) on their own expenses for the poor people. Many people prefer to buy new goods on these days as these nine days are considered special in comparison to other normal days.
On the very first day, puja is organized in every household and devotees set up a kalash (earthen pot) and seeds are sowed in it. It is kept at worshiping place till the last day of navratri known as navmi (ninth day). Many Hindus keep fast on these days to get their wishes fulfilled by goddess Durga. Few self styled neo-devotees keep fast on the first and last day of the navratri to show their devotion during their hectic professional schedule. This trend has gain popularity because fasting for nine days is not practically possible for many devotees. This trend gives them chance to show their devotion and affection to the goddess Durga in a convenient way.
In the new millennium, everything is available for a cost. Many renowned restaurants have started special services for the devotees, who keep fast. The special plate or thaalis are available. So, Devotees need not to worry about the food while fasting. They can get the vrata thaali (plate for those who keep fast) by paying Rs. 50 to Rs. 800 per person in many restaurants and hotels. Menu includes the kuuttu ki puri and pakore, sabudana ki kheer, khuskhus aloo, banana chips, sabudana wafers, sabudana ki khichri, different variety of sweets, and lots more dishes. Variety is also not a problem these days.
Sharad Navratri is celebrated with more enthusiasm in some parts of the country. Sharad Navratri ends with Vijayadashmi or Dashahra. This festival is observed as the victory of good over evil. Bengalis are known for celebrating Durga Puja in a big way. Pandals of the Durga puja are decorated using flowers, idols, dry fruits and other materials. The decoration of the pandals starts before a month or two. Many singers and artist are invited to sing devotional songs and present other religious acts during the fest.
This year, Vasant Navratri is just before the Lok Sabha elections and all the citizens should pray to Maa Durga for a stable government, which can help the people in the season of economic slump. Let us pray together,
Sarva mangala mangalye shive sarvartha sadhike l
Meaning: O Mother! You are the personification of all that is auspicious, You are the benevolent form of Lord Shiva, You bestow Divine energy and help people achieve Righteousness, wealth, fulfil desires and Liberation, You are worthy of being surrendered to. Three eyes adorn You. O Narayani Devi, I pay obeisance to You !