New Delhi [India], April 13 (ANI): Chaitra Navratri, which is a nine-day festival, beginning on the first day of the Hindu Luni-Solar calendar, started today.
This year, the festival commenced on April 13, 2021, and will end on April 22, 2021.
The festival, which falls during the spring season every year, is considered auspicious among various communities in the country. Navratris always begin with the ritual of Ghatasthapana or Kalash Sthapana. Devotees of the Goddess Supreme Durga, observe a fast for nine consecutive days and pray for health, forgiveness, and prosperity.
The first day of Chaitra Navratri falls during the 'Shukla Paksha' of the moon i.e., the full moon phase. The rituals performed during the nine days in order to praise Goddess Durga, vary each day. It also marks the birthday of Lord Rama, which usually falls on the ninth day during the Navratri festivity, hence it is also known as Rama Navratri.
However, amid the second wave of COVID-19, we all must stay inside and maintain social distancing. With the state governments issuing various guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) in each region, it is expected that one of the most-awaited festivals of the season will be celebrated once again in a low-key manner.
Staying inside homes during one of the major festivals can be gloomy for some people. But what the previous year has taught us is that it doesn't mean one can't beat the blues and celebrate the festivities amid the pandemic.
With the right company of friends and family, be it physical or virtual, or observing the week-long fast, your Navratri can be as good as the old times, while keeping all health protocols in mind to contain the spread of the deadly virus. Here are some tips to do so:
1. Learn about the festival by reading mythology and history books
While it's common knowledge that according to scriptures and mythology books, the ninth day marks Lord Rama's birthday, but what is unknown by many is that how did it come to be celebrated on the ninth day of Chaitra month, during the waxing moon phase.
You can use this isolated time to go on a little research mission and find out how this festival emerged. Ranging from academic journals to mythological accounts, you can find a vast variety of materials to unravel the story behind Lord Rama's proverbial birth.
2. Celebrate a virtual Ram Navami with friends and family
Visiting temples with families and friends amid the raging second wave of COVID-19 can prove to be a terrible idea. Thus, keeping distance from people is very much vital given the current situation in the country. But, thanks to social media, most things can be done virtually.
You can easily download any video recitation of Ram Katha and then use the Lord's picture as an idol to mark the incarnation on Earth. It gets even better because you can also ask family members or friends to join you on a video call using any of the apps like Zoom or Google Meet. This will transform your isolation into a community experience like any other year.
3. Recite holy scriptures at home to maintain social distancing
During this auspicious festival, verses are recited by devotees from holy scriptures like Ramayana and Shrimad Bhagavatam. This can easily be done from the comfort of your one's home while practicing social distancing.
Even though usually people visit temples to do so, but due to the second wave of COVID, you can recite verses on your balconies or terraces, which might even make you feel reconnected with nature and help you find that inner peace. After all, it's in nature the God truly resides.
4. Observe fast with films or listen to bhajans
Irrespective of whether you're observing a strict fast (nirjala upvas) or a mild one, a day-long binge of Lord Rama's tales will surely keep you occupied and enchanted. You can keep yourself occupied the entire day with films and short documentaries on Lord Rama and his conquests, that are easily available on various OTT platforms.
In some parts of the country, devotees also organise bhajans and kirtans for the entire nine-day period of Navratra. But since attending those during the COVID-19 outbreak is unsafe, you can use Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, or Apple Music to get into that Ram Navami groove.
5. Help the poor
As the saying goes, sharing is caring, and during the time of festivities, we should share our blessings with those who are not as fortunate as us. Nothing can beat the happiness and satisfaction that you will get by helping someone who is in need. There are many people around, who are struggling to make ends meet due to the COVID pandemic.
Help such people to celebrate Navratri, by donating food, clothes, or essential supplies to them. For Kanya puja, which falls on the last day, you can even opt to feed them by donating money to an NGO that is helping the poor or volunteer to teach online.
For ages, Navratri has always been the festival of togetherness and larger-than-life celebrations. However, keeping in mind the ongoing pandemic and the government restrictions in place, we need to rethink the way we celebrate it for our own safety and the safety of others.
A very happy Chaitra Navratri 2021! (ANI)