Navratri is a Hindu festival of worship and dance. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi i.e. female divinity are worshipped. Dasahara, meaning ‘ten days’, becomes dasara in popular parlance. The Navaratri festival or ‘nine day festival’ becomes ‘ten day festival’ with the addition of the last day, Vijayadashami which is its culmination. On all these ten days, the various forms of Mother Mahisasura-mardini (Durga) are worshipped with fervour and devotion. There are different kinds of navarathiri too.. To name a few,
- Sharad Navaratri
- Vasant Navaratri
- Ashada Navaratri
These navaratris are celebrated depending upon the seasons. The kind of navaratri which we celebrate now is sharad navarathri which is the beginning of winter season(Sep-Oct). Nine forms of Shakti are worshipped during the Navaratris. The Devis worshipped depend on the tradition of the region.NavaDurga
- Durga :goddess beyond reach
- Bhadrakali: the auspicious power of time
- Amba or Jagdamba: mother of the world
- Annapurna: giver of food and plenty
- Sarvamangala: auspicious goddess
- Bhairavi: terrible, fearful, power of death
- Chandika or Handi: violent, wrathful, furious
- Lalita: playful
- Bhavani: giver of existence.
According to Hindu mythology, a very powerful Asura-demon king Mahishasuran prayed to the almighty and asked for a boon – that his death should at the hands of a woman and by no other human being or any form of living being.On being granted his wish, he started inflicting atrocities on all human beings on the earth. He considered himself to be immortal as thought that it was impossible for a woman or any female form of a human being to be powerful enough to kill him. When his cruelty became unbearable, people prayed to Sakthi the consort of Lord Shiva to save them from the demon and to provide them with salvation. Sakthi then took the form of Durga and slayed the demon.
The fight between Durga and Mahishasuran is said to have lasted for nine days and nights.The period of nine days and nights when Goddess Durga fought the Asura is celebrated as Navarathiri in Tamilnadu. The Goddess is worshipped during these nine days and nights as it signifies the fight of the good over evil. Goddess Durga is considered as the personification of courage, strength, and power and praying to the goddess, helps one to be blessed with all these qualities especially during Dasara. First three days: The goddess is invoked as a spiritual force called Durga also known as kali in order to destroy all our impurities. Second Three Days: The Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees inexhaustible wealth, as she is the goddess of wealth. Final Three Days: The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati.In order to have all-round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all three aspects of the divine femininity, hence the nine nights of worship.
In Mysore, this festival is celebrated in a very grand manner. Mysore palace will be illuminated during that time. wow!! what a treat for our eyes!!! There are also kinds of dances associated with this festive.The kinds of dances are “Garba” and “Dandiya” which are famous in Gujarat. Mysore Palace
In Southern states of Tamil Nadu and to a lesser extent in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the festival of Navrathri is called Kolu or Navratri Golu, where women set up decorated planks in a corner of the house and decorating it with dolls which are collected over the years. The origin of the word Kolu can be traced to Tamil Kolu or Telugu Koluvai, which means a sovereign sitting in his royal durbar. As per belief the concept of arranging these Navrathri dolls on the plank is to depict that Goddess Mahishasuramardini is sitting in her Kolu, prior to the slaying of the demon Mahishasura. The dolls are only decorated during these ten days but the collection of dolls may have started over years. These dolls can be very simple to very complicated ones as per ones likes. Every year women enthusiastically arrange these dolls as per their tastes. They either remodify the existing dolls with some new additions or they add couple of new dolls to the existing stacks to decorate the plank every year. These Navratri dolls are arranged in several tiers. Maximum no of tiers in which dolls are arranged are 9 depending on time and space constraints. Steps 1-3:These steps are dedicated to— are devoted to the Gods. So all the different idols of various Gods are arranged here. The kumbham or the ceremonial jar for holy water, which is a conical vessel, is filled with fresh water. A silk cloth covers the mouth of the vessel, a coconut and mango leaves are placed on top of it. This is kept on the first step. Steps 4-6: The next three steps are devoted to saints like Sai Baba, great men like Swami Vivekananda, demigods and even national leaders who have sacrificed their lives for the country.Dolls of Sangeetha Mummoorthigal
Step 7: Various sets such as the marriage set and pongal set, which signify the various human activities, are placed on the seventh step. Step 8: The eighth step is devoted to various businesses and crafts, say the Chettiar dolls (equivalent of Sethji) —a businessman and his wife are placed and their commodities like rice, pulses in cups and other utensils are kept in front of them. Step 9: The ninth step is the last stage where the traditional wooden dolls called Marapachi — the male and female dolls that are dressed in colorful and shining clothes — are placed. Dolls of animals, birds, reptiles and other forms of evolution are also kept on this step. On the 10th night after the ceremonial arti and prayers, the dolls are put to ‘sleep.’ And the next day, the exhibits are packed carefully in cloth or paper and preserved for use the next year. Another novel trend is the concept of `community kolus’, when many women, unable to keep kolu in their homes, join hands and put up a Navratri kolu in a common place. Arranging Navrathri Kolu is also an event in itself it means inviting neighbors, friends and other relatives to visit your home and view the Kolu decorated. Pleasantries and small gifts are exchanged amongst women generally women exchange coconuts, cloths and sweets amongst themselves. Sumangali (married) women also exchange bags containing a small mirror, turmeric, comb, beetle leaves with supari. For each day, a different kind of sundal is prepared and offered as neivedyam to goddess…
Navratri is the longest celebrated Indian festival. Since me and my sis learnt carnatic music during our school days, during navaratri times we along with other friends used to go to a lot of neightbour’s places to sing songs and see the decorations of kolu.Then, will be back home with a collection of tastier sundals. Those 10 days will be a great feast for us… Good old days which we cannot forget!!! I love this festival very much since we are able to meet different people, then many snacks to eat and the exchange of gifts too… Hope i start my kolu exhibits by next yr atleast by god’s grace!!! Quite a looonger one, but i feel it as an interesting one!!!
Source: My thoughts + Internet(Compiled from various sources)