Navratri, meaning nine nights, is a festival of 9 days celebrating the 9 forms of Goddess Durga – The Goddess of Strength and Power. Different states and regions of India observe this festival differently, with varied rituals and customs. During the 9 days of Navratri, India completely immerses in spiritual & devotional mood from North to South.
If you’re wondering where you shall celebrate Navratri 2023 to capture the beauty & divinity of this festival, check out these 6 places in India where just attending the festival connects you to the divine. But before exploring the places, let’s know the story of Navratri to understand the importance of this festival in India.
The 9 Forms Of The Goddess & Spiritual Significance
Many legends & stories about the festival are famous among various regions of India. Still, the most popular of all these is the story of the killing of the demon Mahishasura. Here’s how it goes:
Eras ago, there was a demon named Mahishasura (Half-bull, Half-man). He performed many austerities & penances to please Lord Brahma and got a boon from him that no man or animal could kill him on the face of Earth. Soon after getting the boon, he started creating havoc on the Earth & Swarg (Heaven); troubled, all the devtas went to the Tridev (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiv) for help. The Tridev called Goddess Parvati and lent her their weapons, transforming her into Durga. Goddess Durga fought Mahishasura for 9 days and nights, finally killing him with her Trishul on the 10th day, known as Vijayadashmi.
The stories signify the victory of positivity & divinity over negative emotions. The demon Mahishasura represents our negative thoughts. Goddess Durga is the positive or divine force of life who defeats negativity and purifies us.
In the Hindu tradition, Goddess Durga represents Shakti, or the power of the universe, and all her nine forms represent the universe’s energy evolution.
- The first form is Shailputri – the daughter of the Mountain King, and this form represents the energy in her nascent form.
- The second form is Brahmacharini, signifying energy elevation and calmness.
- The third form is Chandraghanta, symbolising energy in her complete form.
- Fourth, Kushmanda is the creative power on Earth, giving vegetation and fertility.
- Fifth, Skandamata, the mother of Kartikeya (Skand means Kartikeya).
- Sixth, Katyayani, complete energy with creation, preservation, and destruction.
- Seventh, Kalratri or Kali, symbolising time & death.
- Eight, Mahagauri, symbolising peace & intelligence.
- Ninth, Siddhidatri, offering Siddhis or spiritual knowledge to the living.
Worshipping the nine forms of the goddess removes all the negativity of the mind, refreshing and purifying it, giving us a clearer picture of life. Now that we’ve learned about Navratri’s significance, let’s explore where the festival is celebrated best.
Best Places To Celebrate Navratri Festival 2023
The celebration of Navratri in Gujarat is very unique & vibrant. It’s the only state that hosts garba nights for 9 consecutive nights during the festival. The dance is called Raas Garba, based on Lord Krishna’s divine dance with his Gopis. You’ll find many people of all ages participating in the Garba during Navratri.
Coming to the rituals, the nine nights of Navratri are divided into three nights each for Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of prosperity & wealth), and Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of knowledge and wisdom). Every day for 9 days, certain rituals and aartis are performed to keep the goddess happy & satisfied.
If you want to twirl in garba or play dandiya, Vadodara and Ahmedabad are the best places to visit. Vadodara Navratri festival is one of the most vibrant festivals in India, with every street decorated with lights and every corner having a Raas Garba going on. Similarly, Ahmedabad Navratri is an exciting event you can witness during the festival.
Some Exciting Garba Events In Gujarat
- Western Vadodara Navaratri Mahotsav 2023: 15th to 23rd October 2023, Bhayli, Vadodara
- Vadodara Navratri Festival: 15th to 23rd October, Navlakhi Grounds, Vadodara
- Lukshmi Vilas Palace Heritage Garba 2023: Ajwa Road, Vadodara
- Amdavadi Garba Organise by Celebrations: Sun Oct 15 2023 from 07:00 pm to Mon Oct 23 2023, 12:00 am, VIVENZA by Gopi Farm, Ahmedabad
- Mandli Garba: 15th to 24th October 2023, Merriment Party Plot, Ahmedabad
West Bengal & North-East
In India, whenever you want to represent West Bengal, the only image or presentation that comes to mind is the biggest idol of Goddess Durga. Navratri, or Durga Puja (as known in Bengal), is the biggest festival in West Bengal. They magnificently celebrate the last 4 days of Navratri, Saptami, Ashtami, Navmi, and Dashmi. Various Pandals are decorated mostly with red & golden colours.
You’ll find the largest idols of Goddess Durga residing at the centre of the pandal, and for nine nights, she is offered prayers, aartis, and fruits regularly. Mostly, all Bengali women dress up in white & red sarees to pray to the Goddess. The streets, temples, shops, and houses are all decorated to welcome the Goddess during Navratri.
Participating in Durga Puja of Bengal is a dream for many Indians, given its grandeur & beauty. Bengal’s puja is also considered the best Navratri Festival in India because of the reasons above. We must say that if you’re in India and you miss the Durga Puja, you’re missing out on the most important cultural event of the country. Do visit Kolkata or any part of West Bengal to witness the best Navratri in India.
Places To Visit In West Bengal During Durga Puja
- Durgapur: A famous destination for Navratri 2023, witness the beautifully decorated statue of Goddess Durga in the temple and enjoy the delicious prasad.
- Howrah: Located in Kolkata, Howrah holds large pandals of the Goddess every year with larger-than-life idols. Celebrating Durga Puja in Howrah is a must if you’re in Kolkata.
- Siliguri: Dance, sing hymns, eat, and connect with the divine at one of the best celebrations of Durga Puja. Immerse yourself in devotion at the largest Durga Puja celebration at Siliguri.
The holy city of Varanasi, famous for its spirituality and heritage, hosts Navratri beautifully. The ghats are decorated for garba & dandiya dances with ferry lights & diyas. The temples & Pandals are adorned with flowers, lights, and rangolis to celebrate the presence of the Goddess.
Varanasi is the only place in India to have temples dedicated to all the 9 forms of the Goddess. Many devotees from all over the world visit Varanasi for the goddess’s darshan. Post Pandal darshans, you can also witness the majestic Ganga Aarti, one of the famous devotional activities in Varanasi.
Temples To Visit In Varanasi During Navratri
- Maa Shailputri Temple: Dedicated to the first form of the goddess, located in Jalalipur.
- Maa Brahmacharini Temple: The second form, located on the Brahm ghat.
- Maa Chandraghanta Temple: The third form, located in Chandraghanta Gali in the Chowk Area.
- Maa Kushmanda Temple: The fourth form, located in Durgakund.
- Maa Skandmata Temple: The fifth form, located in Jaitpura.
- Maa Katyayani Temple: The sixth form at Scindia Ghat.
- Maa Kali Temple: The seventh form, located in Kashi Vishwanath Gali.
- Maa Gauri Temple: The eighth form, her temple is known as Annapurna Temple in Varanasi, located in Kashi Vishwanath Gali.
- Maa Siddhidatri Temple: The ninth form, situated at Siddhmata Gali in Golghar, Maidagin.
Navratri is a personal and spiritual festival in Maharashtra, with families celebrating it in their houses through Ghatasthapana. In this ritual, grains are sown and are allowed to grow for 9 days. The ghat represents Goddess Durga and is worshipped during the 9 days. You can find various garba events and pandals in Mumbai to celebrate the auspicious Navratri. The vibrant celebration of the festival purifies your energy and refreshes you.
Navratri Events In Mumbai
- Raasleela Navratri 2023: 16th to 24th October, The Bombay Presidency Radio Club Limited, Colaba.
- Navratri Utsav with Falguni Pathak 2023: 16th to 25th October, Late Shri Pramod Mahajan Sports Complex, Borivali West.
- Rangilo Re Navratri 2023: 15th to 23rd October, Nesco Pvt Ltd, Goregaon.
Karnataka’s Mysore has another one of the grand celebrations of Navratri, as the place is associated with the story of Mahishasura Mardan. Eras ago, Mysore was the kingdom of Mahishasura, naming the place Mahisuru or Mysore. The city celebrates Navratri under the name of Mysore Dasara, celebrating the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura.
The custom of Mysore is to pray to their weapons during the festival to ensure victory over their enemies. Also, the Mysore palace is beautifully decorated with 1 lakh lights brightening its surroundings for 9 nights. The city is a must-visit during Navratri 2023 to witness a unique & divine celebration of the festival.
Also Read: Majestic Historical Places in Karnataka
Places To Visit in Mysore During Navratri
- Chamundeshwari Temple: Located on the Chamundi Hills, Chamundeshwari is another name of Goddess Durga. The deity resides in the temple, which is decorated and looks majestic during Navratri.
- Mysore Palace: The royal family of Mysore has been observing the festival for 300+ years. The palace is decorated with lights and open for the general public between 7 and 10 pm.
Tamil Nadu has a unique way to celebrate Navratri. They divide the 9 days into 3 each for the Tridevis, namely Goddess Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Goddess Durga is prayed for the transformation of the universe and everything in it, Goddess Lakshmi for preservation, and Goddess Saraswati for the creation of the universe.
The most unique part of the festival is arranging the Golu dolls, which symbolise the presence of the divine. The dolls can be any figurines of Gods, toys, or clay dolls which are to be arranged on an odd number of steps, usually 3 or 9. The decorations stay for 9 days on display during Navratri.
Places To Visit In TamilNadu During Navratri
- Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai: The temple is dedicated to the incarnation of Goddess Parvati, Meenakshi. It is decorated with dolls and lights, giving you a sight to behold.
- Kamakshi Amman Temple, Kanchi: Dedicated to the goddess Kamakshi, a form of the goddess Parvati, is a famous place to visit during Navratri. The rituals are performed on all 9 days, including cultural performances & alankaram.
Navratri is one of the major festivals in India, celebrated with enthusiasm and devotion all over the country. Anyone visiting India during Navratri must visit at least one of the places mentioned above to experience spirituality & divinity. The lights, chanting, dance and overall vibe touch your soul, filling you with positivity, devotion, and calmness.
So, whether you’re looking for the best places to celebrate Navratri festival 2023 in India or are just visiting the country, bookmark the blog to get important information about the places. You can also refer to the India travel guide for more information regarding India.
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