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How is Navratri celebrated in different parts of India? – Article

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Are you excited about this festive mode of Navratri/Dussera? Yes, So am I !!

Navratri days, yes all these 9 days of Navratri are indeed a colorful and vibrant celebration for a person living in India. For you to get into a festive mode, just with these words – Dandiya dance, Garba dance, Durga Pooja, Vidyarambham, Dance festival, Gollu dolls, and Parade. And all these 9days of Navratri are celebrated in various methods across the country.

But, waittt!!! 

Do you know the mode of celebrations held in all the states? And even the story behind them?

Well, even I was not aware of it until I decided to write this article. India is a land of various cultures and almost all the Indian festivals have a booming mythological fact behind. In this article, I am going to tell you the customs and traditions of Navratri/Dussera in different parts of India.

NAVRATRI IN GUJARAT

Navratri-Garba
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The entire state of Gujarat awaits for the Navratri days. It is celebrated in the month of Ashwin as per their tradition. It is very apt to give the name “Nine nights of dance festival”. As per custom, Gujarat women go on Navratri vrat for 9 days.


Have you heard of Gujarati “Earthen pot tradition”? Yes, it is the main Gujarati custom followed during the Navratri celebration. This pot(known as Garbi) is covered with holes and a Diya(lamp) is lit inside. In the evening this lamp is lit to perform aarti. Garbi denotes the womb/Garba of mother goddess Durga, which brings in a new life.


Have you guessed what adds more light to Navratri colors?

Yes, Dandiya and Garba dance. Sheri Garba is celebrated after sundown. It was initially started (1950–1960s) to celebrate feminity, fertility, and divinity of Goddess Durga.


The history goes like this, Goddess Durga is at the center of the circle(lamp), and the dancing takes place surrounding her. Garbi denotes the Goddess’s womb where life originates from. A circle has no end, and so the Navratri Garba is always performed in a circle to denote the three truths behind life – birth, death, and rebirth. The light coming from Gujarati Garba signifies that the Goddess drives away darkness and restores the world in those nine nights.
The Lamp symbolizes the body; the light inside depicts the divinity of the Durga Devi.


Dancing is done barefoot. This is because the foot is the only part of your body that touches the earth who is considered to be the sacred mother of everything. It is believed dancing barefoot is a way to connect with Devi.

Navratri days split up: All the nine nights are broken up into three sections,

• Days 1,2,3 – Dedicated to Goddess Durga, who destroyed Demon Mahishasura and also human impurities.

• Days 4,5,6 – Dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of spirituality.

• Days 7,8,9 – Dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and art.

There is one more feature to celebrate Navratri. Do you know that? Well, let me tell you. Dussera is also the time to celebrate soil fertility and monsoon harvest. This is done and represented by worshipping and watering a mound of fresh soil sown with grains all the nine days of the festival. 

Famous temples in Gujarat for Navratri festival– Ashapura Mata-no-Madh in Kutch, Khodiyar Mandir near Bhavnagar, and Chamunda Mata Mandir at Chotila on the Ahmedabad-Rajkot National Highway.


NAVRATRI IN NORTH-WEST INDIA

Navratri-Durga-Pooja
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Navratri or Durga Pooja is celebrated north-western part of India in high grandeur. Durga Pooja is featured by setting up a temporary stage and pandals(structural decoration) where a large size idol of Goddess Durga Devi with her lion is kept. This idol is made by following the procedure and proportions as mentioned in the Hinduism sastras. The celebration also includes idols of other deities,
• Laxmi – Goddess of Wealth.
• Ganesh – God of Good Beginnings.
• Saraswati – Goddess of Wisdom.
• Karthikeya – God of War.

You can see the Bengali women wearing their traditional red saree during this festival. The first day of Durga Pooja is Mahalaya which depicts the advent of the Goddess. The sixth day, Sasthi is when the celebrations take a full fledge. The following three days, the goddess is adored in her different forms as Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. The tenth day which is marked as the day of victory is celebrated as Vijaya Dashami when all the idols are carried in huge processions to local rivers to be immersed.


Do you want to know the age-old mythology behind this?
It is said that the Goddess Durga comes to the earth(depicted as her birthplace) for destroying evil on the first day. And after her victory over the demon Mahishasura on the tenth day, she returns to her husband, Lord Shiva’s place to Kailash. Her departure is symbolized by immersing the idols in the water.

NAVRATRI IN HIMACHAL PRADESH

Dussehra or Navratri is celebrated as a grand festival in Himachal Pradesh in the name of “Kullu Dussehra”. The actual celebration starts on the 10th day of Navratri and continues for 7 days. The celebration takes place in the Dhalpur maidan in the Kullu valley. If you visit this valley, you can find a huge hit of nature and a remarkable religious side along the way. 


Do you know the fact that Kullu valley is also called asValley of Gods”?
There are two main myths behind the celebration of Kullu Dusshera and the story behind its name,
1. On his way from Kailash, Maharishi Jamdagni, carried a basket that had images of eighteen different Gods. He was stuck in a fierce storm while crossing the Chanderkhani pass and it scattered all the images across the Kullu valley. People living in these hills saw the images taking forms of Gods. Thus, this beautiful place gets the name, “Valley of Gods”. People here worship these scattered images with great pomp.
2. History dates back to the 17th century when Local King Jagat Singh of Kullu tortured a Brahmin for his huge possession of pearls. But the truth is, all the
Brahmin had was the “pearl of knowledge” which was misunderstood by the king. Unbearable of his torture, the Brahmin set fire to himself and cursed Jagat Singh. As a result of which, the king’s food turned into worms and water into human blood.
Later the king was counseled to install an idol of Raghunath(Lord Ram) on his throne as a mark of penance. Following this, god Raghunath was declared as the ruling deity of the Valley. The Raja sent his order to assemble all the Gods and Goddesses of the state Kullu on the occasion of Vijya Dashami to first pay honor to Raghunathji and then participate in the celebrations.

The three important days of the Kullu Dussehra,
• Appearance of Thakar (Lord Raghunath)
• Muhalla (The Day before Dussera)
• Lanka Dahan (Burning of Lanka).
This week-long celebration starts with a parade of Lord Raghunath, alongside other deities, carried on a Rath across the town. The village Gods and minor divinities are also an aspect of this celebration. The celebration gets merrier with dancing, drinking, and devouring for 7days.

NAVRATRI IN KERALA

In Kerala, Navratri is celebrated in the month of ‘Kanni’. During this period in Kerala, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati are worshipped as three different incarnations of Goddess Shakti, or cosmic energy.


Navaratri days are split up to adore various aspects of the might God Shakthi through her manifestations,
• Days 1,2,3- Goddess Durga to invoke the Powerful force to destroy Impurities.
• Days 4,5,6- Goddess Lakshmi as a source of inexhaustible Wealth and Prosperity.
• Days 7,8,9- Goddess Saraswati to bestow the power of Wisdom.

The last three days of the Navratri are considered to be the most sacred days of worship and are called, Durgashtami, Mahanavami, and Vijayadasami. Pooja is performed for a good start/beginning to the world of learning.

Durgashtami– This is also called as Poojavaipu ceremony and is performed in the evening Before Poojavaipu, all studies and work materials are suspended and kept in the pooja for blessings.


Mahanavami– This is celebrated to rejoice the victory of Goddess over evil on the last day of the battle. The buffalo headed demon is destroyed the following morning.

vidyarambham-images

Vidyarambham– This is the last day of Navratri and the important one. Vidyarambham (Vidya– “knowledge”, Arambham– “beginning’), as the word clarifies, this day is favorably committed to a kid’s first learning. Children are made to write their first few letters on rice or sand to start their journey in the world of wisdom. At this auspicious moment, a kid for the first time is given instructions and guidance to write the first few alphabets on rice or sand. This starts with the priest or guru helping the kid to write a mantra,- “Om Hari Sree Ganapathye Namaha” on rice or sand. Then he writes the same on the kid’s tongue with gold. Writing on tongue denotes Goddess Saraswati’s blessing on the kid. The rice on which the words are written is taken to home to make a sweet kheer.
Certain communities celebrate Navratri with images of gods, animals, and toys arranged like an exhibition and this performance is called `Koluvaipu’.
Thiruvullakkavu Sree Dharmasastha Temple, located in Cherpu of Thrissur district is famous for Dusshera celebration Kerala.
Vidyarambham– This is the last day of Navratri and the important one. Vidyarambham (Vidya- “knowledge”, Arambham- “beginning’), as the word clarifies, this day is favorably committed to a kid’s first learning. Children are made to write their first few letters on rice or sand to start their journey in the world of wisdom. At this auspicious moment, a kid for the first time is given instructions and guidance to write the first few alphabets on rice or sand. This starts with the priest or guru helping the kid to write a mantra on rice or sand,- “Om Hari Sree Ganapathye Namaha” on rice or sand,

“Om Hari Sree Ganapathye Namaha”

Then he writes the same on the kid’s tongue with gold. Writing on tongue denotes Goddess Saraswati’s blessing on the kid. The rice on which the words are written is taken to home to make a sweet kheer. 
Certain communities celebrate Navratri with images of gods, animals, and toys arranged like an exhibition and this performance is called ‘Koluvaipu‘.


Thiruvullakkavu Sree Dharmasastha Temple, located in Cherpu of Thrissur district is famous for Dusshera celebration Kerala.

NAVRATRI IN TELANGANA

Bathukamma is the famous Floral Festival celebrated during the nine Navratri days. This is predominantly celebrated in Telangana and some parts of Andhra Pradesh. Bathukamma means ‘Mother Goddess come alive’.


This is a feminine festival with exotic flowers in the region. It is also regarded as the Spring Festival of Goddess Gauri. The monsoon rains usually bring plenty of water into the water bodies of Telangana and it is also the time when flours with vibrant colors bloom across the plains of the region. The most abundant and famous of these flowers are ‘Gunuka’ (or ‘gunugu’) and ‘Tangedu’.Other popular flowers are banti, chemanti, nandi-vardhanam, and so on. 


The festival begins a week before the ‘Saddula Bathukamma’ (it is the grand final day of the Bathukamma festival) which falls two days before Dussera. The womenfolk normally get back to their birthplace from their in-law’s home to celebrate the beauty of nature.

Bathukamma-images
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How is the Bathukamma plate made? Flowers of alternate colors are arranged in circular rows on a brass plate. Womenfolk dress in vibrant colors and wear their best ornaments. Place the bathukamma in their courtyard and gather in a large circle around it along with the neighborhood women. They dance and sing circling this Bathukkama plate. Bathukamma symbolizes the rejoice of the inherent relationship human beings share with earth and water. 


During the following week, women make idols of Mother Durga ‘boddemma’ (a deity of Gowri ‘mother Durga’ made with natural mud) along with Bathukamma and submerge it in the pond. This fortifies the ponds and helps it to hold more water. The flowers used in Bathukamma have an extraordinary quality of cleansing water in ponds and tanks and flowers so submerged in abundance are eco-friendly.
dapibus leo.

NAVRATRI IN TAMILNADU

Gollu-images-Navratri-images
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Navratri is celebrated as “Golu” in TamilNadu.
Kalasa Ahvanam– This is performed on the first day of Navaratri, following Ganapathi pooja. It is a welcoming ritual held for Goddesses Parvati, Lakshmi, and Saraswati by Hindu Shastras and is performed by an elderly member of the family. A Kalash (pitcher or pot) made out of brass or copper filled with water and topped with a coronet of mango leaves and coconut is worshipped and placed on the topmost step of the Golu steps. As per Vedas, this represents a symbol of abundance and source of life- Goddess Durga.


This is trailed by building a rack of odd-numbered shelves/steps of Golu or Padi (usually 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11) on which Golu dolls are exhibited. Each step of the stack tells a story. It is a traditional practice to have wooden figurines of the bride and groom together, called ‘Marapacchi Bommai‘ and head wobbling ‘Chettiyar dolls’. There are certain rules to be followed while arranging the dolls on the stack. () These doll displays and scenes are based on a theme, representing ancient stories and mythology. 


Me, hailing from the state of TamilNadu has always been a great lover of this Gollu festival. Who would not fall in love with these vibrant dolls and scenes? But how many of you know the history behind this practice of displaying these dolls during Navratri?
The story goes, when Goddess Durga set out to fight Mahishasura, all the Gods and Goddesses helped by lending their powers to her. Without their powers, they became statues or ‘dolls’. With all this cumulative power on the 10th day of the battle, Goddess Durga finally won over the evil Mahishasura. Hope you understood the doll history now.


In the evenings, women in the neighborhood welcome each other to visit their homes to view the Kolu exhibits; they also exchange gifts and sweets. Betel leaves, coconuts, fruits, flowers, bangles, turmeric, kumkum (vermilion powder), and homemade prasadam (devotional offering of food distributed among people) are all the parts of the gifts offered.


The 9th day is called Saraswati Pooja. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped as the divine source of wisdom and enlightenment. Study and work materials along with musical instruments are placed in the puja and worshipped as a source of knowledge.

The tenth day, the Vijaya Dashami is the most auspicious day which marks a new and prosperous beginning. Children with their parents do a morning pooja when they are made to involve in study activities. Later in the evening, one of the dolls from the Golu display is emblematically put to sleep, and the Kalasa is moved a bit towards North to mark the end of that year’s Navaratri golu.


Kolu also Besides the economic aspect of the festival it has a significant connection with the agricultural and handicrafts(doll making) professions in India.

NAVRATRI IN MAHARASHTRA

Ghatasthpana-images-navratri
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According to Maharashtrians Navratri means “New Beginnings’’. During this time they involve their time in buying a new property or making new business plans.
Like Gujarat, ‘Ras Garba’ nights are loved by Marathi people. 

The most common celebration begins on the first day of Navaratri with Ghatasthapana (sthapana of a ghat), which means “mounting of a jar“. This is performed by mounting a copper or brass jar, filled with water, upon a small heap of rice kept on a wooden stool. Besides, this jar is placed along with other agricultural things such as mango leaves, turmeric root, coconut, and major staple grains (usually eight varieties). A lamp is lit these nine days which symbolizes knowledge and household prosperity.

The family worships the Ghatasthpana for nine days by offering rituals and a garland made out of flowers, leaves, fruits, and dry fruits. Naivedya or prasadham with water is offered to get the seeds sprouted.

Navaratri days are split up.

Days 1,2- Kali Pooja 

Days 3,4,5-  Laxmi Pooja 

Days 6,7,8,9- Saraswati Pooja along with Ghatasthapana.

The ninth day is called Khande Navami is when men participate in worshipping all kinds of tools, weapons, vehicles, and work materials.


NAVRATRI IN KARNATAKA

Navratri-Mysore-dusshera
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Dusshera is called Mysore Dussera in Karnataka and is the most famous festival in Mysore. When Goddess Chamundeshwaeri of Chamundi hill, killed the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura. This festival flourishes with the exhibition, elephant rides, dance, music, cultural activities, and torchlight parade.

This 5kms Mysore Dussera parade is also called Jumbi Savari(the name was given during British rule). The parade starts from Mysore palace and ends in a place called Bannimantap. This is a place where the Banni tree is worshipped. A tree worshipped in Mahabharata before wars. 

The grand durbar in Mysore palace was started during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III and is continued by the current descendants of Wodeyar with the members of the royal families.

The ninth day is Mahanavami when the royal sword(Pattada Katti) is worshipped on a golden throne and taken on a possession involving camels, horses, and elephants.

You will be excited to know the main attraction of Mysore Dusshera. It is the 1,00,000 lights lit in the Mysore Palace throughout these Navratri days from 7 pm to 10 pm. Don’t you think this is a treat to your eyes? 



Let us know from which place are you hailing from? Do you have anyother special customs followdduring Navratri? Share in the comments.

"Goddess Durga exists Eternally, Always abiding in her own sweet and abiding nature. Happy Navratri!!"

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