Diary of Hobbitt

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Navratri-One festival,varied celebrations

No festival is celebrated all over the country in such a varied manner as Navratri -the festival of nine nights when the three shaktis ,ie. Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped . Be it north,be it south, be it west or be it south -this festival is celebrated ina different manner in each region.
Starting with north, Kulu celebrates with lot of pomp and show .Elsewhere devi Sherawali (the goddess who rides on the lion ,hence the name)is worshipped and everyday aarthi is performed and young unmarried girls are invited to take lunch and thereafter given gifts.In the south for nine days it is the festival of dolls in every house -dolls are arranged on several wooden steps and kept for nine days.During the nine days married ladies and unmarried girls are invited to the house and offered haldi-kumkum ,betel leaves, areca nuts ,coconut and banana along with that day's prasad (mostlyboiled chickpeas or some other pulses).During the visit those who can sing ,sing songs dedicated to the divine mother.In the first three days Durga is worshipped, on the second three days Lakshmi is worshipped and on the third day Saraswati is worshipped. On the ninth day special pooja is done for saraswati. Books, musical instuments are kept in the pooja (Saraswati, being the godess of learning).On the tenth day Vijaydasami is celebrated during which all form of tools are placed for puja. It is customary to start a child's first step toward learning ,on Vijaydasami.Rice is spread out on a tray and the child is made to write the first few letters with the help of the elders in the house. In the east Dassera signifies the comimg of Durga to her maternal home and she is worshipped with elaborate pooja, and bhog (meals) is served to all devotees who come for darshan. On Vijaydasami Durga returns to her husband's home and she is given a tearful farewell as she is taken to the sea to be immersed.For the Bengalis, Durga puja is the biggest festival and the state virtually comes to standstill during this time,as offices, schools, colleges and other institutions are closed. In the west devi is worshipped for nine nights and for nine nights, Gujratis perform dandiya and garba in colourful costumes with lot of vigour. Painted mud pots are kept with cereals and worshipped.
Navratri with its varied celebrations truly reflects the multicultural spirit of India.


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