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Nine days of Navratras...

Navratra thalis from Nirula's and Le Meridien.

LOTS OF us go to temples during Navratras to worship Goddess Durga, but not many are aware of the philosophical significance behind it. According to the Devi Bhagwat Puran, "The two seasons autumn and spring are known as the teeth of Yama, the God of Death." The nine-night festival is observed twice a year, once at the beginning of summer and the other as winter is about to begin. During the nine auspicious days when Mother Goddess or `Devi Ma' is worshiped across India under different names and manifestations, Delhi virtually becomes a temple town.

Jhandewala Mandir, a pilgrimage centre in the heart of Delhi attracts devotees in lakhs. "We are at our busiest during the Navratras, when every day we clock over one lakh devotees. The number keeps increasing year after year. We serve free langar meals for the general people and for devotees too," informs a member of the Jhandewala Temple society.

Other activities like jaagran are also organised in the temple during the nine days, which conclude with Vishal Bhagwati Jaagran on the last Navratra. "To provide security, police booths have been placed at every gate for hassle-free entry," says a regular visitor to the temple. Other popular pilgrimage points in the Capital during these nine sacred days are the Chattarpur temple complex, the Durga temple in Green Park and the Shiv Mandir in Preet Vihar.

Apart from commemorating important events in history, religious observances and festivals are allegorical. On a spiritual level, navratras symbolise the stage of man's evolution into God - from Jivahood (state of individualisation) to Sivahood (state of self realisation).

Fasting and feasting

Religious fasting is a very popular concept. While some people fast for just a day or two, others fast for the entire nine days. Some strictly adhere to a fruit diet, others abstain from salt, whereas some love to eat special phalhar treats all day long. Keeping these trends in mind, several restaurants are introducing `satvik bhojan' during the navratras.

Dakshin restaurant in Marriott WelcomHotel is flagging off the auspicious period with a special Navratri Bhojanam (thali), available from October 14 to 22 for lunch and dinner. Chef Shubhra Singh of Marriot Welcomhotel says, "We prepare three different types of thali with three kinds of desserts, each being served on alternate days."

Among the mouth-watering `satvik' offerings are kuttu ki roti, paneer ki sabzi, patchadi raita (vegetable raita with cucumber and tomato), fruits, palak ke pakode, zeera aloo, singaray ki burfi, makhane ki kheer, sabudana khichdi, to name a few.

Meanwhile, Nirula's is offering a changed menu with tempting dishes like paneer with butter curry, aloo dahi curry, paneer makhana, besides desserts like phool makhana kheer, sabudana kheer and rice kheer.

Tasveer, the Indian cuisine restaurant situated on level three of Gourmet's gallery would be dressed up in various colourful themes with bangle and mehendi stalls set up during all the nine days. The special Navratra thali at Gourmet's gallery contains a variety of vegetable dishes, salad, raita, rice and desserts and is priced at Rs.150.

'Dhaba presents a special Navratra Thali for the occasion'

New Delhi, October 2004: - On the occasion of Navratra, Dhaba - the Indian restaurant at the Claridges, offers an extensive Navratra Thali for the guests.

The thali includes delicacies like Phaldari Seekh, Mahi Tawa Chaat, Kaju aur Gobhi ka Mel, Daal Mewar Ki, Paneer aur Papad ki Bhujiya, Dahi ke Aloo and the equally tasty Kuttu ki Roti & Sabudane ki Kheer. The guests can savour these delicacies from October 14 - 22, 2004, during both lunch and dinner.

Says Chef Mahavir Singh of Dhaba, The Claridges, "The Navratra festival spells partial fasting for many Hindus. Keeping in mind the sentiments of people, we are providing a gamut of enticing Navratra delicacies. Priced at a very attractive Rs. 400/- plus taxes, the thali offers a host of palate-tickling dishes.

For further information, please contact Harshita Singh, Public Relations Manager on Tel: 9891252069/23010211.

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