Navratri commences in Delhi with prayers and fasting


New Delhi : Chanting ‘Jai Mata Di’ and holding coconuts, bangles and red ‘chunnis’ in their hands, thousands of devotees thronged various city temples Monday morning as the nine-day long Hindu festival of Navratri, dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine forms, commenced with fanfare.

Support TwoCircles

Long queues of devotees were seen outside famous temples like Chattarpur and Kalkaji in south Delhi and Jhandewalan in central Delhi which were all decked up with colourful streamers and marigold flowers.

“I went to the Jhandewalan temple with my family to get blessings from Mata rani and offered peres, coconuts and a chunni,” said 46-year-old Kishan Narang, a resident of central Delhi.

Neha Khurana, 28, planted grains of barley in a pot as part of the festival rituals and her family would worship the pot throughout the nine days. This custom is indicative of fertility and is known as ‘Khetri’.

“The pot is kept in the prayer room of the house. Water is sprinkled every day and the house must have at least one occupant at all-time till the khetri is fully grown to about 3-5 inches in length. It is immersed in Yamuna after the festival concludes,” Khurana explained.

In these nine days, many men do not shave or cut scalp hair.

The festival is also known for fasting and irrespective of age, devotees survive on fruits, curd, milk and dishes made of water chestnut flour and swang rice. Rock salt replaces the normal salt for those who are fasting.

“I’ve prepared puris, swang ke chawal and aloo pakoras for me and my husband as we both are fasting. We will be visiting the temple in the evening after returning from office,” said Sudha Pandey, a 42-year-old bank employee.

Meanwhile, restaurants across the city also do brisk business during the festival as Navratri thalis are very popular among Delhiites, fasting or not.

“A Navratri thali usually consists of Kuttu ki roti/puri, fried potatoes, swang ke chawal, saboodana ki tikki or khichdi, kheer, saboodana papad and pakodas,” said Anjana Virmani, a 30-year-old foodie who eagerly awaits the festival to gorge on the festival special food.

The festival culminates with groups of young girls called ‘kanjaks’ or ‘child-godesses’ visiting their neighbours. Their feet are washed, and traditional food like puris, halwa and chanas are offered to them along with bangles and the red ‘chunnis’ with some money as ‘shagun’.