Bengal is famous for Durga Pooja. But Biharis also have a similar festival during Navaratri. Or so says Sweta Rajni, who graduated in Economics from St. Xavier’s college, Ranchi, currently residing in Delhi. She says:
What is the significance of Navaratri in your state?
In Bihar, the significance of Navaratri lies in the worship of Shakti which mean power. Goddess Durga is symbolised as Shakti. People establish a kalash and sow jau (wheat with its husk) around it on first day. Nine significant faces of Goddess Durga are prayed to for nine days and worshipper observes fast so as to get bestowed with good power which destroys all evils. It ends with sacred hawan on the ninth day. It is considered that Lord Rama also observed Navaratri vrat and was blessed with power to kill the demon with ten heads, Ravan.
How do you celebrate the festival?
Celebration is quite grand. Festive mood is on its peak. People buy new clothes. This festival is celebrated in threefold manner here. Big Puja pandals are made very artistically using bamboo, wood, satin clothes, jute bags, themocol, etc. Giant idols of Goddess Durga on her lion killing Mahisasur, the demon, Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswati and God Ganesha and Kartikaye (sons of Parvati and Shiv) with their respective vehicles rat and peacock are established in these pandals on sixth day of Navaratri. People in their best attire visit these pandals. During all these days, you can regularly listen to the celebrating sound of dhak. Fair is set up around the beautiful pandals. On last day, named Dushara the idols are immersed into a holy water body. A regular play of Ramleela is carried for ten days where death of Ravan is shown on Dushara. The word means defeat of the ten headed demon. Ravan Dahan is also done on this day.
What are the food items you prepare during this festival?
Only Satvik food (fruits, potatoes, kutuk ki roti and rock salt) is taken by the devotees for nine days. Khichri and kheer in the form of Mahabhog prashad is distributed to all. Other special food items include Ol Ki sabzi and kadhi chawal with fried vegetable slices called Bachka.