With aroma of sumptuous fast food and the entire festive bling filling the air around you, it is not difficult to conclude that Navratras are here to embark the beginning of Indian festive season. The 9 nights of Navratras worship Maa Durga and her various incarnations. The diverse Indian subcontinent celebrates the festival in vivid ways. Here are some of the different traditions observed in India during Navratri:
I. Gujarat celebrates Navratri for the first nine days of Ashwin month by fasting for 9 days. Garbi is an earthen pot with holes and diyas inside it. Aarti with Garbi, performing Garba, Dandiya Raas and special kind of dressing for the occasion.
II. West Bengal celebrates the last four days of Saptami, Ashthami, Navami and Dashami as ‘Durga Puja’. Big community pandals are set up all over the state with idols of Maa Durga on her lion, demon Mahishasur, Lord Ganesha, Kartikeya and Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati are raised. Women dress up in traditional red and white sarees and sounds of Dhol, Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh, the fragrance of agarbattis fill the air .
III. The state of Tamil Nadu hosts religious celebrations seeking the blessings of Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati during the nine nights. Socializing and merry making become the chief traits of the times. Kolu, a staircase having 9 stairs, representing the 9 nights and each stair is decorated with beautiful idols of gods and goddesses.
IV. What is called Kolu in Tamil Nadu is Batukamma Panduga in Andhra Pradesh which roughly translates to “Come Alive Mother Goddess”. Flower stack of regional flowers are arranged and are known as “Batukamma” . These witness nine days of puja infront of them and then at the end are set afloat into water bodies. Goddess Shakti is also worshipped.
V. For Kerala, Navratri is celebrated in the last three days by placing books and musical instruments in front of Ma Saraswati’s idol on Ashtami and continuing till Dashmi.
VI. Navratri or “Naada Habba” as it is known in Karnataka observes rituals including elephants’ procession on the streets, including fairs and exhibitions which are a century old tradition.
VII. Punjab and rest of Northern India observes fasting on the first 7 days of Navratri and with ending their fast on Ashthami or Navami by worshipping 9 little girls and a boy, which is known as “Kanjika”. Jagratas are also an integral part of the celebrations.