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A month of positive vibes begins today: Jyoti Bhatia

Navratri is among the most popular Hindu festivals, it is celebrated by making a 'Garba', which is an earthen pot containing moong daal and a lit diya inside

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A month of positive vibes begins today: Jyoti Bhatia
Dilip Bhatia with his family’s Garba at Ghatkopar
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"The mahaul (mood) at our home is different these days," says Jyoti Bhatia, the eldest in the Bhatia joint family, who live in Bhatiwadi, Ghatkopar. From Navratri to Diwali, the family says there is a positive vibe in the air as they welcome Amba Mata home and looking forward to her blessings of prosperity.

Navratri is among the most popular Hindu festivals, it is celebrated by making a 'Garba', which is an earthen pot containing moong daal and a lit diya inside. An aarti is performed of this, devotional songs are song and garba is played later, at home or outside.

Navratri comes after the Hindu month of pitrupaksh, in which one remembers their departed ancestors. Legend has it that Lord Shiva's consort, in her various forms of Amba, comes home during this period. She visits every house that has a 'Garba' and blesses those who pray to her.

It is for this homecoming that the Bhatias begin cleaning up their home days before the festival starts. That is followed by purchase of new clothes for each of the nine days. It is a practice most Gujaratis follow.

Traditional clothes are compulsorily worn by the family.

"Bhari (most expensive and elaborate) clothes are worn – they could be new or collected through the year. While women wear sarees, men wear kurtas and their unique 'Bhatia' pagdi," says the 73-year-old born, who though brought up in Mumbai, traces her family roots to Kutch in Gujarat.

Additional excitement is brought by the various competitions organised by the community. "There will be competitions for the best rangoli and garba decoration," says Nimisha Bhatia, Jyoti's younger daughter-in-law. Some members of the family of 11 recently moved to Lonavla for business; they will come home for the festival.

All members will sit down for aarti after sunset, every day. "Each day, we do an 'avahan' (welcoming call) for different incarnations of the goddess. We sing a different 'garba' for each incarnation," said Jyoti, who prefers to sing 18th century Gujarati poet Dayaram's songs that are embedded in Bhakti movement.

During this period, girls who are under the age of 12 get special importance. "Only after bhog is served to Mata and girls are served food, do the others sit down to eat," says Jyoti. Different sweets are prepared each day, such as dudhi-ka-halwa and kheer. Sharad Purnima, the day Lord Krishna plays dandiya with the Gopis, is observed by having poha and milk.

"Traditionally, that is day Dandiya is played," says Dilip, Jyoti's son and an advocate, who fasts on some days.

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