Why We Celebrate Navratri


By Anchel Krishna @anchelk

Happy-Navratri-2012-Facebook-Fb-Timeline-Cover-BannerMost Hindus are familiar with the nine-day celebration of Navratri. It happens twice a year (in the fall and again at the end of winter). As a kid, my birthday often fell during Navratri (Hindu holidays are based on the lunar calendar and not the calendar) and my mom would try and convince me to get an eggless cake (this was way before veganism was as popular as it is now).


As kids we knew Navratri was a special spiritual celebration celebrating the divine mother and the birth of a god. We also knew that during this period we didn’t any meat or eggs.


Over the years we’ve changed how we celebrate Navratri a little bit. We spend time with both sides of our family, try and live/eat a little more simply and blend Dilip’s South Indian customs with my family’s North Indian ways. It usually means more get togethers and lots of tasty, vegetarian food. Neither Dilip nor I are overly ritualistic so the official pujas are often kept to a minimum.


Dilip and I give up eating any meat during the nine-day period, but continue to eat eggs. Since Syona’s been born we haven’t really applied any of these same rules to her.


But this year, I got to thinking whether we should? She’s at the age where she is starting to understand a lot of what’s happening around her. She knows routines, she knows the agenda on certain days and we keep her in the loop about weekend plans. We’re also trying to learn to ask her what she wants to do. Perhaps it is because of her communication delays or because we have our own agendas, but it can be easy to forget to ask her what is important and what she wants to do.


Photo: Courtesy Anchel Krishna



I find a wide variance in the religious practices of Hindus, but an especially wide variance amongst our generation of Indo-Canadians. Both sets of parents encourage us to maintain our connection to our religion by choosing the practices that mean something to us, which we do. We are also happy to keep up the religious practices that mean a lot to our parents, because our parents mean a lot to us.


So when I think about passing along religious practices to Syona I think I owe her the same treatment. And though she’s not quite four I think the best approach is to tell her why we have certain religious practices, why they mean something to us and ask her if she wants to do things the same way.


And perhaps she will come up with a new way of celebrating religious customs that become new traditions for our little family. And why not start with Navratri?


Do you celebrate religious holidays in the same way as your parents? What new traditions have you and your family come up with?




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