Being one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, India has more festivals than there are days in a year. One of the important major festival celebrated with such pomp and show in almost all the parts of India is “Navratri“. In Sanskrit, “Nava” meaning “nine” and “ratri” meaning “nights” – so, the celebration lasts for nine nights. The tenth and last day of the festival is known as “Dussehra“. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the end of September or the beginning of October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the Moon Phases Calendar.
This year, Navratri started from 13th of October and will end on 21st of October. So, if you are in India these days, you must have already realized the lights, colors and the exquisite intricacy of this festival. Don’t miss visiting your nearest “Pujo Pendal” to take the blessings of the “Goddess of Power” where you get to learn some of Sanskrit Shlokas and also few moves of traditional dances like “Dandia” and “Garba”; and.. of course, you can enjoy the numerous varieties of Indian cuisine.
Why It’s Celebrated?
All of the Navratri or Navadurga Parva and Dussehra happens to be the most auspicious and worship of the absolute creative energy of the God conceptualized as the Mother Goddess-Durga. It is said, the Goddess fought with the buffalo-headed demon, Mahishasura, for nine long days and finally won over the evil on the tenth day, that is, on the Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra day.
Also, there is another story behind the celebrations of Dussehra; As per Hindu religion, on this day, King Rama, also called Shri Ram, killed Ravana, the ten-headed demon, who had abducted Rama’s wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, their follower Hanuman and an army fought a great battle to rescue Sita. Rama had performed a special puja and implored the blessings of Durga, who blessed Rama with secret of the way to kill Ravana. The entire story is described in detail in the epic Ramayana, a Hindu scripture.
How It’s Celebrated?
As per the religious stories, there are nine forms of Goddess Durga to symbolize creative energy and each form of the goddess has its own day dedicated to it. Each day, the worships takes place in the mornings and the evenings are for feasting and dancing. In most of the places in India, the tenth and last day of the Puja, the Dussehra day is celebrated by burning the Ten-Headed Idol of the devil Ravana, which concludes the complete festival. It symbolizes the victory of good over the evil.
Though Navratri and Dussehra are celebrated by the whole country, the custom is not the same in all parts of India.
If you wish to see the real charms of the festival, visit West Bengal and Odisha. Here, you’ll find all the “Pujo Pendals” built right across the streets and hundreds of eateries set up to cater to the Pendal hoppers. Dussehra is the day not to be missed at all in Kolkata if you’re near the area; this is the day when the grand “Sindoor Khela” is performed where the married women color each other and the Goddess with the Sindoor.
In Western India, the traditional dances of Gujarat, known as Garba and Dandia, are performed in circles with dancers dressed up in colorful clothes. You’ll see all of them in vibrant costumes perform the folk dance to celebrate those nine days.
In South India, celebrations are quite unique. At home, women arrange beautiful displays of dolls and toys in known as the Golu Festival. Married women visit each other’s homes to admire the Golu display, and exchange sweets. After displaying the dolls for 9 days, the main doll couple is left outside overnight on Dussehra and for the next 3 nights. Really, these dolls are all so cute!!
Did you know, it is said that, The Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura at a hill near Mysore, which is now known as “Chamundeswari Hills”. Locals say that the demon Mahishasura was the ruler of Mysore. This tale actually notches up the celebration of the festival in Mysore.
In many other places, ‘Kanya Poojan‘ is done where they worship the girl children.
I think, these are all enough for now. Finally, I would like to say, Come, Visit and Live the festivity all by yourself to realize the real charm of the festival.
What do you say?