One of the biggest, important and auspicious festivals of Hindus, Navratri commences on Sunday, September 29. It is made of two words, Nav meaning nine and Ratri meaning night. On these days goddess Durga and her nine avatars are worshipped. In a year, there are two main Navratris which are celebrated by Hindus, the Vasant Navratri, and the Sharad Navratri. Indians across the country celebrate the festival with zeal and enthusiasm.

However, Sharad Navratri, which usually falls in the month of September or October is the most celebrated and significant one. It is also known as Maha Navratri. The nine-day festival would end on 7th October 2019.

During the festival, devotees worship nine incarnations of Goddess Durga (Navdurga) each day of the festival. People wake up early and worship the Goddess with many offerings like fruits, milk and dry fruits.

Here are the names of 9 goddesses with their colours associated with each day of Navratri:

29th September:              Shailputri / Orange

30th September:              Dwitiya Brahmacharini   /White

1st October:                       Tritiya    Chandraghanta / Red

2nd October:                     Chaturthi Kushmanda / Royal Blue

3rd October:                      Panchami Skandamata / Yellow

4th October:                      Shashti Katyayani /Green

5th October:                      Saptami Kalaratri /Grey

6th October:                      Ashtami Mahagauri /Purple

7th October:                      Navami Siddhidhatri /Peacock Green

Muhurat:

On the first day, devotees perform the ritual of Ghatasthapa, marking the beginning of the nine-day festivities. A kalash is installed in this ritual which is immersed in water on the tenth day. Ghatasthapana is done during a certain period of time and the muhurat for this year is between 6:13 am to 7:40 am. Ghatasthapana can also be done during the Abhijit muhurat, which is from 11:47 am to 12:35 pm on the same day.

Puja Vidhi

After taking bath, lord Durga is worshipped with the pure heart. An earthen pot is placed near the idol to grow Khetri and a red thread is tied around the pot. It is said that the more the barley grows, the more fortune it brings to the home. On the first day, Devi Shailaputri is worshipped. Jasmine flowers are offered to her along with red coloured cloth piece. Devotees also chant, Om Devi Shailaputryai Namah, while doing the aarti.

Fasting Rules

-During these nine nights of Navratri, people observe fast. On the eighth day, Kanya Pujan is observed in which minor girls are worshipped and offered prashad, food and sweets.

-You should consume Kuttu ka Atta (buckwheat flour) or Singhare ka Atta (water chestnut flour) during this festival.

-For making kheer, khicdi or dhokla you can use Samai Ke Chawal or Samvat Ke Chwaal (barnyard millet) instead of normal rice and Sabudana can be consumed as well.

-Use rock salt or Sendha Namak during Navratri fasts. Do not use normal salt.

-You can consume all kind of spices. But many devotees avoid turmeric, mustard, garam masala, dhania powder and hing as they increase the heat of the body.

-During all the nine days of fasts, it is best to consume all kinds of seasonal fruits such as apples, musk melon, mangoes, etc. You can also consume dry fruits.

-While fasting a few vegetables get more preferences like arbi, sweet potato, lemon, pumpkin, potatoes, etc. You can also consume carrots, tomatoes, spinach, cucumber, etc. You should strictly avoid onion, ginger and garlic.

-In dairy products, you can consume paneer, curd, malai, ghee, etc.

-Use desi ghee and peanut oil to prepare your dish. Do not use seed-based oil or refined oil.

-Alcohol, smoking, non-vegetarian food, aerated drinks and eggs should be strictly avoided during fasting.