- Sharad Navratri is the most widely celebrated Navratri of the year
- It falls during the post-monsoon autumn months
- Fasting devotees eat specially prepared meals once a day
Sharad Navratri 2018 is just around the corner and preparations to celebrate the grandeur and power of the Hindu divine feminine Goddess Durga are in full swing. This year, the festival of Sharad or Maha Navratri dates are October 10, 2018 to October 18, 2018. The festival is celebrated in different ways in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. This is the second of the two most important Navratris of the year. Also known as the Sharad Navratri, it lasts for nine nights and 10 days. It is a post-monsoon autumn festival. According to the Hindu calendar, the festival falls in the month of Ashvin, which, according to Gregorian or Victorian calendar, coincides with the months of September or October. The themes of victory of good over evil are common in the folklores and stories attached to the festival of Sharad Navratri. Different parts of India may have different versions of the mythological tales related to Navratri.
Sharad Navratri is the most widely celebrated of the total four Navratris (two festive Navratris and two gupt or secret Navratris) celebrated by Hindus annually. The two festive Navratris - Vasant Navratri and the Sharad Navratri- are indelible parts of the Indian culture. The word Navratri literally translates to 'nine nights' in Sanskrit, named after the holy period. Sharad Navratri is followed by the festival of Dussehra or Vijayadashmi and the festival of lights Diwali or Deepawali.
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Navratri 2018: Significance of Sharad Navratri
Sharad Navratri marks the end of monsoon and is observed during the lunar month of Ashvin. In some parts of India, it is celebrated after the autumn harvest and in some others, during the harvest. The festival celebrated the victory of Goddess Durga against the demon Mahishasura. Each day of the festival has its own significance. The festival is solely dedicated to the celebration of the all-powerful Goddess and her nine female avatars.
Navratri 2018: Goddess Durga and her 9 avatars are worshiped during the festival
Here's a day-wise significance of Sharad Navratri 2018:
Day 1; October 10: The first day of Navratri 2018 is called Pratipada and is dedicated to Shailaputri or daughter of the mountain. The holy colour of this day is red, and it depicts action and vigour.
Day 2; October 11: The second day or Dwitiya celebrates power of Brahmacharini, which is the unmarried avatar of Goddess Parvati. The holy colour of the day is royal blue, which represents calmness.
Day 3; October 12: Chandraghanta is the avatar of Goddess Parvati celebrated on the third day of the Sharad Navratri. It is named so after the half-moon she adorned her forehead with, after she married Lord Shiva. The colour of the day is yellow.
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Day 4; October 13: Chaturthi or the fourth day of Sharad Navratri celebrates Goddess Kushmunda, who represents generous endowment of vegetation on Earth. The holy colour of the day is green.
Day 5; October 14: Goddess Skandmata is worshipped on day 5 or Panchami. The holy colour of the day is grey.
Day 6; October 15: This is the day of Goddess Katyayani- the warrior Goddess with four hands. The holy colour of the day is orange.
Day 7; October 16: Saptami or seventh day of Navratri is the day of Goddess Kalaratri- the most ferocious form of Goddess Durga. The colour of the day is white.
Day 8; October 17: Ashtami is a special day in the nine-day period, when nine pre-pubescent girls are invited to Hindu households and fed a special prasad. The Goddess Mahagauri reigns supreme on this day and the holy colour of the day is sky blue.
Day 9; October 18: The last day or Navami of Sharad Navratri celebrates the Goddess Siddhidaatri, commonly known as Saraswati. The name Siddhidaatri literally means the giver of siddhi or enlightenment. The colour of the day is pink.
Navratri 2018: Foods To Eat And Special Fasting Foods
Navratri celebrations vary from state to state. A number of Hindu families fast for varying periods during Navratri. During the fasting periods, only certain foods are allowed and a number of foods and spices are banned from consumption. Typically, fasting devotees give up consumption of grains for most part of the day, partaking in a specially prepared fasting meal only once a day. The rest of the day, they eat only fruits and special vrat snacks, prepared from sendha namak or rock salt. Only some food grains, vegetables and spices are allowed during the Navratri fasting period. These include grains like buckwheat and water chestnut flour and certain tubers like potato and sweet potato. Desserts made from sabudana or sago and fox nuts or makhanas are common preparations during Navratri fasts.
Navratri 2018: Fasting devotees eat specially prepared meals once a day
Other commonly prepared fasting dishes include sabudana vada or sabudana tikki, kuttu or buckwheat flour pooris, potato curry, sweet potato halwa, etc. While the consumption of sugar is allowed, consumption of table salt is banned during Navratris.