STARTING FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8: “Navratri” means “9 nights.” There are various extended festivals throughout the Hindu calendar, but this particular autumn nine-night festival focuses on the Divine Mother Durga and is very important. Big parades, small processions, colorful costumes, beautiful dolls, music and dance all are a part of the festivities—and more.
Hindu devotees regard their ancient religious tradition as honoring “one God; many paths.” When Westerners encounter Indian religious culture, we tend to see distinctively different gods. However, from a Hindu perspective, most of these deities actually are manifestations of one Divine pathway down through India’s rich spiritual history. For this reason, news coverage of Navaratri in India is complex. Many regions have distinctively different ways of celebrating a festival like Navratri. Here’s a recent Navratri story in India’s national newspaper, The Hindu, written especially for younger readers and outlining many of the regional variations in the observance. (Wikipedia also has a helpful overview of Navratri. In a separate article, Wikipedia covers Durga or the Divine Mother.)
This year, Hindu groups in many parts of the world are focusing on “green” celebrations. Here’s a short news item about a student group planning a “green” Navratri.
Some wire stories also are reporting heightened security concerns in India during the festival this year. At ReadTheSpirit, our hope always is safety and spiritual fulfillment for our readers. So, we wish you a happy Navratri!