Hindus around the world observed the start of the Hindu Calendar. The Hindu calendar began around March 22 or 23 (Gregorian Calendar) coinciding with the Naravtri period of fasting.
The first month is called Chaitra. This beginning of the month is a very auspicious period for Hindus especially those who trace their roots in the Hindi belt of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Most of the Indians from the Caribbean (called girmitiyas during the indentured period 1838-2017) came from Eastern UP and Western Bihar. Navratri festival is special for this area and is widely celebrated.
There is no fixed date in Gregorian (western) calendar for 1st day of Chaitra, i.e., the beginning of the Hindu New Year. It depends on solar sidereal (after periodic adjustments). Hindu calendar starts from Bhartiy month Chaitra. This is 2075 Vikrami Samvat. Hindu civilization predates western civilization by some 5,000 years. Many people keep fast for the whole of the Navratri period. Some completely avoid eating or drinking anything on the first and 8th (Ashtami) day of Navratri which this year coincided with March 18 thru 25.
Elaborate pujas and rituals are conducted during Navratri. Pooja ceremonies are different from other poojas. Cleanliness and fasting are most important. Not only is the house cleansed so also is the soul. Hindus tend to conduct special pujas in their homes. Pix show a family performing special pujas in their home.
The period of nine days of Navratri is considered to be very holy for Hindus, especially those in North India. Worshippers do all that they can to appease their beloved deity. People wake up and bathe early morning and pray to the Goddess (Durga, Saraswati, and Lakshmi). They perform special poojas and havans to welcome Goddess Durga to take shelter in their homes. Offerings in terms of delicious bhog, fruits and flowers are also made to the deity. Devotees also observe ritualistic fasts as a mark of showing their devotion for the Goddess. Those who fast during this period obtain bliss.
Some special customs are done in every house. On Ashtami (8th Day) the whole house is cleaned in mud house cow dung is “leepay” and in the night when every work is done palm figure and turmeric (saffron or dye) is placed in the kitchen.
Next day in dawn around 3 AM the another special puja is done. Mud pebble sindoor is marked in the home and Dhaar is offered to the murthi. Puri Halwa and Chana are offered to the Goddesses and then shared with family members. Special Durga Saptshati Hawan (burning of incense and samagri) is done and some of them do simple Hawan.
On the last day of Navratri, Ram Navmi is celebrated. This is the day Lord Rama was born. Rams is the symbol of character of humanity whose friends were animal birds and poor people living in jungle (forest). The message of Ram was to love all and to care for all lives; he told the world to abandon evil ways and adopt goodness.