Hindus in Bradford and around the world have begun celebrating Navratri, a festival that honours the Goddess Durga.
Navaratri also called Sharada Navarati or Navrata is a celebration of good over evil and falls in the month of Ashvin, which is between September and October in the Gregorian calendar.
It lasts for nine days and ten days, with the word Sanskrit word ‘Navratri’ translating to “nine nights”, ‘nava’ meaning nine and ‘ratri’ meaning nights. This year the festival starts from Thursday 7 October to Friday 15 October.
The festival of Navratri holds great significance for the devotees of Maa Durga, as Hindus pray to the different avatars of goddess Durga each day during the nine-day celebration. It is one of the most important celebrations in India, with millions of people around the world fasting or taking part in Navratri Puja rituals.
The festival celebrates the achievement of good over evil as goddess Durga, who was created by combining the powers of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva defeated the demon king Mahishasura.
It is also believed that Maa Durga travels from Devlok to Earth during Navratri and takes away all the troubles of her devotees.
The auspicious Hindu festival is a time of positivity. It is a time of reinvigoration and renewal of oneself. During this time, people will chant mantras, renditions of bhajans or holy songs that accompany Garba and Puja rituals.
In Hinduism, Puja is a type of ceremonial worship, ranging from brief daily rites in the home to elaborate temple rituals. The word puja is derived from the Dravidian word for ‘flower’. In its simplest form, puja usually consists of making an offering of flowers or fruit to an image of a god.
Each day is marked with a different colour and worshippers dress in the colours which correspond to each day.
People also wear their best traditional attires to attend dandiya, traditional dance, nights all over the world.
Seema Buttoo, a faith advisor for Bradford Hindu Council and a Hindu faith tutor for Bradford Council for over 22 years discussed the Navarati celebrations going on in Bradford this week. She said: Families across Bradford will be celebrating in the temples and at home.
“Some will fast, abstaining for pulses and grains, and others might take part by praying and giving offerings to the Mother Goddess.
“Everyone in the community is looking forward to taking part in the festival this year since we haven’t been able to meet properly for almost two years.
“It is going to be amazing to see people coming together, dancing and smiling without masks on.”
Last year, community events were cancelled due to the pandemic.
Ms Buttoo also added: “In my home, I celebrate the festival by completing Puja rituals and making offerings to Maa Durga.”
One way people celebrating the festival will come together in Bradford, and across the world, to take part in Garba, a form of dance that originates from the state of Gujarat in India.
The name ‘Garba’ is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘garbha’ and ‘deep’. Many traditional garbas are performed around a centrally lit lamp or a picture or statue of the Goddess Shakti.
Various events are happening around Bradford to celebrate the festival.
The Shree Prajapati Association Bradford welcomes everyone to join them for Navratri throughout the nine nights starting on 7 October from 7pm with the Arti following by Garba from 7.30pm to 9pm. For more information, you can visit here.
The Leuva Patidar Samaj Yorkshire Community Centre is hosting events every night during the festival between 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the Ukrainian Community Centre, 169-171 Legrams Lane, BD7 2EA. Food items collected here will be donated to Bradford Food Bank.
The Bradford Bengali Hindu Cultural Society have events planned next week for the festival at the Puja Hall at The Park Suite, Cliff Road, off Otley Road, Undercliffe, BD3 0LT. For more information, you can visit here.
Krishna Balagokulam Bradford is holding a Navratri workshop this weekend for children aged between five and twelve years old. An ideal opportunity for families with young children to learn and understand the importance of Navratri. Spaces are limited so you need to book in advance here.
The Hindu Culture Society of Bradford at the Shree Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple & Shree Krishna Community Centre has not provided us with any information on their Navratri programme for this year.
The temples and organisations across the district will adhere to Government Covid-19 guidelines by offering hand sanitiser and although not compulsory, wearing masks if guests wish to do so. People who test positive for Covid-19 or display any symptoms of the virus are asked to stay at home, in line with national guidance.