Renowned artistes talk about how they celebrate Navaratri, as Maithri Srikant listens
Come Navaratri, there is melody and gaiety in the air. The nine days of the festival abound with celebration that finds expression in various art forms, all of which symbolise devotion to the Goddess.
Although Navaratri has a rich historical, cultural, religious, and social significance, it is also the time for bonding and camaraderie.
Music is an intrinsic part of this festival and it is a time of prayers and festivities, especially for those involved in artistic pursuits. Legend has it that the Goddess manifests herself in one of the dolls of the kolu on the nine days of the festival. Therefore the Devi is invoked through music and the kolu is worshipped.
As this festival of colours and lights weaves its magic, MetroPlus talks to some renowned performers. They share with us their memories of the festival and provide colourful insights into their Navaratri celebrations…
Classical dancer and actor
Being an artiste, it is my favourite festival. The concept of the three Devis – Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi – are worshipped, as they are considered spokes in the wheel of progress, and a means to progress too. In my native Karnataka, we have grand Bombe Habba (bomma kolu), with themes inspired from the Mahabharata, string puppets from Mysore, and so on. My memories centre on my dance class for Saraswathi pooja, where we students used to go all decked in traditional jewellery such as vanki, jhumkis, and kunchalam, to pay obeisance to our guru, Narmada (who is now no more). We used to take along fruits and ‘dakshina' and after presenting them to her, she would teach us a new dance piece. Also, Dussehera celebrations in Mysore bring back fascinating images – that of the illuminated palace, the procession of Goddess Chamundeshwari in a golden mandapam….All a world in itself!
Trivandrum K. Krishna Kumar
Musician, composer and musicologist
Music reigns during Navaratri. Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple's Navarathri mandapam comes alive with music during these nine days. It's a stage where many stalwarts present concerts. In my early days as a musician, it was a rare opportunity to listen to these veterans. There are many other temples in Kerala such as Pattazhi near Kottarakara, Chottanikara, Kodungaloor Devi temple, and Munishwaran in Kannur, where Navaratri is celebrated with music concerts.
It is the time where we, myself and my wife, Binni, revert to the spiritual aspect of music, a period of dedication to the Goddess, where we concentrate on learning Devi kritis and Navavarana kritis, and performing them at temples here and abroad and also on television. The culmination is Vijayadashami day for attaining for oneself the virtues of yukthi, siddhi, and buddhi.
I have fond memories of Navaratri, of the times when my grandma used to keep books bundled up for pooja, and we had an ‘official' break from studies. These days I visit kolus of my friends in Chennai, some of whom come up with innovative themes such as Jurassic Park, Appollo 13, Dashavatharam for their kolus. Some even create model towns!
When I visit a kolu, I sing different kirtanas. One Navaratri, I sang in front of the kolu at Ilayaraja sir's house. Afterwards, his son, music director Karthik Raja, offered me my first song! That was a very memorable and auspicious kolu. This year, I'm looking forward to my first Navaratri post-marriage.
First of all, as a musician, it is an occasion to thank the Goddess for having bestowed Her grace upon me. It is the time for socialising too; a time that brings out the latent talent in women. We have a kolu featuring dolls inherited from my mother-in-law, some of which are a 100 years old. My daughters and I create kolus with a theme; we make miniscule models of parks, swimming pools, airports, and so on, and adorn it with ornamental kolams. Each year my father-in-law gifts us a set of rare dolls. This collection of dolls is an heirloom for my girls.
Navaratri evenings are usually resplendent with kutcheris. I chant a special hymn every day such as Lalita sahasranamam, Devi Mahatmyam, and so on. Thereafter, we make delectable nivedyams (chundal, sharkara pongal...) for the deity.
When my grandmother D. K. Pattamal was alive, our house, on Vijayadashami day, was like a temple, with musicians, students, and music lovers streaming in from dawn to dusk, seeking her blessings.