Navaratri is known by different names across the country. However, the theme is the same — celebrating the triumph of good over evil.
Here’s a festival that calls for celebration for four days and more. Navaratri or Dussera is one of the longest festivals celebrated across the country. We all know the story…it’s been told and retold so many times that it would be difficult to forget. But the most important thread is the triumph of good over evil. And this calls for a celebration right? While some of you may visit many pandals and eat bhog there are others who decorate their houses with golu dolls. Let’s take a look at how each state celebrates this nine-day-long festival adding their special touches.
Gods and goddesses are artistically arranged on a seven/ nine stepped wooden platform at the start of the festival. Each house has a list of invitees everyday. Every year a new doll finds place on the steps. Golu decorations are a mix of traditional and contemporary figurines. Sundal, a savoury made of pulses is the offering everyday and every visitor is served this. The ninth-day is celebrated as Ayudha puja — to worship things we use in our daily life.
In Gujarat its merriment all the way. The festival is celebrated in a unique and unusual way. Every night women dress up in colourful ghaghras and cholis and dance around a pot with a lamp. Representing life the dance will also see men take part in a well-choreographed dance using dandiyaas. Today, Garba and Dandiya-Raas have become extremely popular throughout India. In Maharashtra, Navaratri is dedicated to Durga and the last day that is Vijayadashami is dedicated to Saraswati. It’s a day that is considered auspicious to begin education, invest in property and start new ventures.
Dussera, meaning a ten-day festival, gains most prominence in the city of Mysore. The Mysore Palace is illuminated for a whole month during Dussera and elephants adorned with jewellery lead a colourful procession through the decorated streets. The procession starts from the Palace and moves through the town. The celebrations draw to a close with cultural programmes from various states. Larger-than-life effigies of Ravana filled with fire crackers are set alight to mark the occasion.
Punjab, Delhi, UP
It is mainly a time of fasting in Punjab. There are many who live only on milk during this time. The last day is a time for celebration. Nine kanyas are invited home and the women wash their feet, worship them and offer food which is the traditional puri, halwa and channa. They are also given bangles and the red chunnis as a gift. On the last day effigies of Ravana are burnt symbolically marking the end of evil. The celebrations continue well into dawn.
Kolkata, Bihar, Assam
The one thing that you will not miss if you visit any of these regions during Navaratri is the gorgeous pandals that dot the streets. Most of them have a theme. I remember a pandal made with ice cream sticks and one with biscuits or like the one below representing the Parliament House. The idol is brought into the pandals on Sashti (Day 6) and it is only after poojas on the seventh day that she is unveiled.
Some pandals also screen videos of the mythological tale for children. There is a belief that the more pandals you visit the more blessed you will be through the year. Everyone dresses up and meet and greet friends and relatives. On the ninth day prayers are offered to Saraswati and that’s the day not to study...The tenth day as idols are immersed, families visit each other to wish Happy Vijaya. It is a day of feasting after the fast.