KARACHI: Many Hindu temples in the city started celebrations for the nine day, or nine-nights, known as Shubh Navratri Festival from Monday.

The festival of nine nights also includes nine days of 24-hour-long fasting, and it all begins on the new moon according to the Hindu calendar.

Then each of the nine evenings are spent in honouring the nine manifestations of the Hindu goddess Durga, known for her strength, power and the ability to protect the weak in Hindu mythology.

The first night of Navratri marks the puja ceremony to celebrate Shailputri Mata. It is followed by similar celebration for Brahmacharini on the second night, Maa Chandraghanta on the third, Kushmanda on the fourth, Skandamata on the fifth, Katyayani on the sixth, Kaalraatri on the seventh, and Mahagauri and Siddhidatri on the eighth and ninth nights.

There are scripture readings, devotional music and dandia (stick) performances as groups of female devotees dressed in pretty dresses and saris with lots of jewellery dance around the beautifully-decorated deities, which is followed by special prayers for blessings and shakti (strength).

The 24-hour-long fasts are broken after the prayers with the distribution of prasad (devotional offering) prepared right there at the temples by volunteer devotees, some of whom could be seen peeling potatoes or peas or cleaning rice earlier in the evening.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2022

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