Navratri: The Other Fall Festival

School has started, the leaves are turning, and Target Dollarspot is filled with orange glittery tchotchkes. Fall is here. {Visit our Fall Festival Roundup for 25+ ways to celebrate the season with your family!}

For many Indian Americans in the region, fall also means Hindu festival season. Last week, we celebrated the Hindu festival of navaratri.

WORSHIPING DIVINE FEMININE ENERGY

Navaratri means nine nights. It’s a time to worship shakti, feminine divine strength, represented by goddesses such as Lakshmi (goddess of wealth), Saraswati (goddess of knowledge), and Durga (goddess of fierce protection).

Indian Americans celebrate Navaratri differently depending on the region from which their families originate. Navaratri is a Hindu festival, so not all Indian Americans celebrate it because Indian Americans follow many faiths.

NAVARATRI: LET’S GET MUDDY

I started off the weekend with an obstacle course run with my good friend, a fellow mom. It was fun, refreshing, and a great way to celebrate feminine strength.   As Indian Americans, we build new traditions along with the ancient Hindu ones. Maybe obstacle course racing will be my new navaratri tradition.

GARBA: DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY THE GUJARATI WAY

That evening we went to a Navaratri garba celebration. Garba is a dance done in concentric circles around images of Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Durga. This is one way people with roots in the western Indian state of Gujarat celebrate Navaratri. People of all ages gather to dance the night away with others in the community.  The practice represents coming together with others while placing the divine energy at the center.  All are welcome at garba celebrations, so if you are interested, look up your local temple or Gujarati cultural group to find one to attend.

NAVARATRI GOLU: ALTARS AND HYMNS

Finally, we topped off the weekend at a friend’s house with a Navaratri golu viewing. This is how Indian Americans with roots in some southern states of India celebrate. Worshippers set up altars with different deities, including Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Durga, and others.  At this celebration, my friends husband built a plywood altar, and the kids made an altar out of their Mega Bloks.

 

Offerings can include any kind of food prepared with love. This one included freshly fried cinnamon donuts and apple crisp–along with Indian foods like poha and idly. We also listened to a song extolling the virtues of the goddess Lakshmi.

What are your favorite fall festivals? Tell me about them in the comments!

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