Navratri is celebrated with much grandeur, fun, fervour and enthusiasm across India. While, the festival is essentially all about worshipping the various incarnations of Goddess Durga, observing fast, avoiding garlic and onion made items and celebrating Vijyadashmi, one simply cannot ignore the relevance of food or Navratri thali that is specially prepared for the devotees or people who choose to fast during the 9 day festival. It is widely believed that worshipping the goddess during the festival bestows wealth, happiness and prosperity among the devotees or worshippers of Ma Durga. In fact, the festival of Navratri is celebrated in a multitude of ways across different states in India. In this article, we’ll look at how Navratri is observed in different parts of the country and what special food or items are included in the Navratri thalis, prepared at home or various restaurants and hotels in the country.
Bihar, Assam and West Bengal: Navaratri is celebrated with lots of enthusiasm, vigour and energy in the eastern parts of India including places like West Bengal, Bihar and Assam. The final four days of Navratri including Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami are celebrated with much pomp as well as glory and devotees throng to pandals or temporarily built temples to make their offerings to the goddess. Food is one of the highlights of the festival and people from eastern India, especially those who hail from West Bengal indulge in fine delicacies and sumptuous meals such as Kuttu ke aate ki Puris, dry vegetables, pakodas and a variety of like Rosogulla, Kalakand as well as Sandesh. The Navratri thali prepared in Kolkata also consists of items such as chola dal, bandhakopir dalna, aloo posto, pathishapta, sabudana puri and mishti doi.
Punjab and Delhi: Delhi celebrates Navratri by organizing Ramlila performances across the city. People put up stage shows and portray as well as narrate incidents that took place in the life of Lord Rama. On Dussehra or Dashmi, devotees burn the effigies of Ravana. On the contrary in Punjab, the women observe seven days fast and worship Durga Ma by organizing as well as participating in jagrans (a celebration featuring chanting of hymns as well as singing of devotional songs). On the 8th day or 9th day, women break their fast and organize feast for nine or more young females as a form of worshipping the goddess. Navratri thali has its own special significance for devotees and others in Delhi and Punjab. Food items and preparations made from paneer, sweet potato, arbi, sago or sabudana are common in Navratri thalis served at different restaurants and food joints in both the cities. Apart from this, one can also look forward to enjoying mouth-watering dishes like Makhane ki kheer, dahi wale aloo, khatta meetha kaddu, masaleddar chaach as well as saboodana papad.
Mahrashtra: For Maharashtra Navratri is all about initiating a fresh start and establishing new tie ups as well as businesses. The first day of Navratri is celebrated by observing a ritual known as Ghatasthapana in which an earthen pot containing water is placed on a bed of mud. While, the initial two days revolves around Kali Puja celebration, devotees worship Goddess Lakshmi on the following three days. The final four days is marked by Saraswati Puja celebration. Maharashtrians prepare a wide variety of dishes on the occassion of Navratri. Popular items include fried aloo ki sabji, sabudana vada, sabudana khichdi, matar paneer, singhare ka halwa, sabudana thalipeeth as well as dry fruits milkshake.
Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu: For devotees in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu the festival of Navratri is extremely auspicious. In Karnataka, Navratri is known as Nadahabba whereas people in Tamil Nadu worship Goddesses Saraswati, Laxmi and Durga during the occassion. Keralites, on the other hand, celebrate Navratri by starting afresh or learning new things. South Indians prepare a number of rice dishes such as curd rice, sweet pongal, tamarind rice and conconut rice to celebrate Navratri. Some of the other popular Navratri dishes include kala chana sundal, green pea sundal, moong dal laddu, til laddu, rice payasam, sooji halwa, milk kesari, medu vada, mysore bonda and chakli among others.