Thursday, October 25, 2012

Glimpses of Navratri Celebrations Across India

The festival of nine nights called Navratri is marked as a festival of nine avatars of Goddess Durga, who is worshipped over these nine days in her various forms. The victory of good over evil is celebrated in unique ways by families across India. The nine days of Navratri bring together everyone from the family to join the festivities.

The Tamilian Family:
Women celebrate this festival in a unique manner, arranging golus - a setup of nine stairs to place idols & statues of gods, in their houses. The whole family joins to seek blessings from goddess Durga. The guests are gifted coconuts, beetle leaves & idols of god as a symbol of the blessings received from god.

The Andhrite Family:
Women make `Batukamma` -  a seven layered flower arrangement created using seasonal flowers. 'Batuku' in Telugu means life and 'Amma' means mother. Batukamma is thus the festival devoted to celebrating universal motherhood. Women wear silk sarees and gold ornaments. In the evening, women place their batukammas in the centre and dance around them by singing folk songs dedicated to Goddess Shakti. Then they march towards a lake or any other water body and set afloat their Batukammas.

The kannada Family:
'Navratriya Shubhashayagalu' means happy navaratri in kannada.The celebrations include procession of elephants on the streets. Fairs and exhibitions of handicrafts and artifacts are a common feature of celebration.

The Malayali Family:
Unlike the others, Keralites celebrate only the last three days of Navratri - Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashmi. Books, musical instruments are placed in front of Goddess Saraswati’s idol on the day of Ashtami. The books are worshipped and people pray to the Goddess to seek wisdom and knowledge. On the tenth day, the books are taken out for reading.

The Bengali Family:
The pujas are held over a ten-day period, which is traditionally viewed as the coming of the married daughter, Durga, to her father, Himalaya's home. It is the most important festival in Bengal, and Bengalis celebrate with new clothes and other gifts, which are worn on the evenings when the family goes out to see the 'pandals'. Essentialy the Puja Sharts from sixth day after Mahalaya. On Saptami the seventh day Nabapatrikar- nine plants are worshipped and a ceremonial bath or Mahasnan is performed, after which devi is worshipped. On ashtami , Sandhi Puja the most important event of Durga Puja in which devi is worshiped as Chamunda. On the last day, Dasami ,the puja rituals ends and the idol is submerged in the river along with the nabapatrika.

The Gujarati Family:
Garbha & dandiya raas mark the flavor of navaratri in gujarati families. The word Garbha means The Womb, which is the source of life. Women wear vibrant, mirror-work ghaghra-cholis  and men wear their traditional attire to play garba. The first three days of navaratri are dedicated to Goddess Durga ,the next three days are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and the last three are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati - goddess of knowledge, who is dressed in milky white and mounted on a pure white swan. The whole family gets together to offer prayers to the goddess. Later they go to play garbha in traditional costumes that are studded with various jewels & ornaments.

The Punjabi Family:
Most of the Punjabis go on a fast for  the first seven days followed by a jagraata (staying awake whole night ,singing devotional songs dedicated to goddesses).On ashtami,the fast is broken which is followed by bhandara (a feast that includes puris & halwa chana).
On completion of the ceremony, girls are gifted red chunris signifying goddesses’ perpetual presence.

The  Maharashtrian  Family:
Many Maharashtrians  go on padyatra (walking to your destination) to temples, worshipping goddess with pujas & aartis, and some also promise to give up all worldly luxuries as offerings to goddess.Women invite relatives & close ones to their houses for haldi-kumkum, where the relatives are greeted with beetle leaves & bindi that signifies serenity & happiness in the family.

Navratri is a time when people bond with their family , relatives & closed ones whom they love and the ones they wish to spend time with. So whatever you did this navratri- called relatives over,  shook a leg (of garbha) with them, made delicacies, visited pooja pandols, we hope you had an incredible time with your family.

"May goddess Durga bestow her blessings on you and your family. Wishing you all a prosperous year ahead!"

-Happy family bonding
Team imlee:)