Navratri – Celebrating Women Power

Navratri - Happy Dussehra

Navratri in North is the Festival  of Hues, while in South the Display Of Dolls seizes the Limelight.

How can a festival be celebrated in different forms with similar level of enthusiasm? This was a question posed to me by one of my friend when she visited Mumbai last week. Steffi from Chennai puts the question beautifully:

Down south, we celebrate Golu, and here I can see something else brewing with the preparations. My question is what exactly folks do here on Navratri? How does one approach Navratri here? 

“Well, I know it has many different myths associated with it, but I thoroughly enjoy Navratri nights. The shopping spree, colorful costumes, grooviest dance moves, fasting and so much more until the last day. Besides, there is something special about this mysterious festival, which stimulates our positive side.

Steffi asked me if I can elaborate and here is my response…

We often forget the little things while chasing the big ones. The basic secret is to get involved with a non-serious approach. The cultures in olden days that idolized goddesses realized that there are too many things in existence, which can never be understood. All you can do is celebrate it, appreciate it, but never understand it. We can simplify it as, “Life is a mystery and will always remain one.” We often fail to attain this underlying agenda in the midst of rigorous fasting and prayers.

Continue reading to know what the devotees wear on these auspicious nights of Navratri to please the Goddesses, insights on Golu festival, and some major take away on current issues.

During the nine days of Navratri, feminine power (Shakti) recalls, admire and worship Goddesses gracefully. Each region has a specific tradition, and it fits perfectly with an assorted appeal when it comes to celebrating Navratri. Also, there can’t be a better-suited occasion to reveal the fashionista in you.

What should one wear? Well, in the nine days of Navratri there is hardly any confusion as each day is assigned with a specific color. In festive seasons people shop mostly for all traditional outfits with a range of different styles. In the North, colors play a significant role, and people wear attires with the corresponding color to make the celebration extravagant.

Navratri - Dhandiya Dance

Let us look forward to the the expected enthusiasm for Navratri 2018:

  • Day 1:- This day is devoted to Shailputri, who highlights nature and a symbol of joy and happiness.
  • Day 2:- The second day is about admiring Brahmachari who identifies with pure spiritual knowledge. Green is the color for this day.
  • Day 3:- Devi Chandraghanta, who carries the half-moon on the forehead, is celebrated on the third day and people wear grey color on this day.
  • Day 4:- Goddess Khushmanda is worshipped on the fourth day, and it represents happiness and energy. Orange is the hue for this day.
  • Day 5:- People wear white, which signifies purity on this day, and worship Goddess Skandamata.
  • Day 6:- On this day, Devi Katyayani is admired and adored. One should wear red on this day, and the hue represents the rage-filled in this Goddess against her enemies.
  • Day 7:- Devi Kaalratri who has immense power is described with the color dark blue
  • Day 8:- The 8th day is dedicated to Mahagauri, and people wear pink color attire as it represents hope, uplifting oneself at both self and social level.
  • Day 9:- Devi Siddhidatri blesses us with immense knowledge and helps us conquer all our expectations. The color violet, which highlights aspiration and power, is seen on this day.

Welcome the Artistic Display of Dolls

The South Indian tradition has a lovely addition to nine days of Navratri celebrations, which takes place in the North. This fantastic practice is called GOLU where we get to see an artistic arrangement of dolls. Steel or wooden stands strategically organized in the form of steps are covered with a white Dhoti or sometimes a beautiful saree, which gives a perfect background. The dolls are stacked neatly on every, and odd number steps are chosen to form an ideal GOLU festival.

As per tradition, the first three steps are chosen for dolls of Gods and Goddesses along with other mythological figures. The fourth and fifth steps can be leveraged to display the creative skills concerning decoration. People usually add scenes and arrange the Gods along with commoners to make it relatable to daily life. Besides, people exhibit a trader couple, which is prominently known as Chettiar-Aachi bommai. Fruits, vegetables, and grains symbolize prosperity. Being a festival where women gather and exchange gifts, it is one of those occasions where women wear beautiful traditional outfits and accessories.

 

Golu - Display of Dolls

The history behind celebrating GOLU

More than just being fun and frolic there are many intriguing stories relevant to the importance of GOLU festival, which will leave us amazed.

It is said that to promote de-sitting of irrigation canals, GOLU came into existence to incite demand for clay materials. The festival symbolizes the feminine power, which tells us everything on earth has just one creator.

The mythological background of this festival is even more enticing. Maa Durga wanted to kill Mahishasur (an evil demon), but due to an insufficiency of strength to make it happen all by herself, she took help from all Gods and Goddesses.  Hence, the festival is celebrated to acknowledge their sacrifice GOLU festival.

Apart from this, had a practical reason attached to it. In olden days due to narrow-minded society women hardly got an opportunity to socialize, hence celebrating this auspicious festival would let them mingle. They exchanged sweets, flowers, gifts, ornaments, kumkum, fruits, etc.

In the eastern parts of India, which comprises of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, and Odisha celebrate last four days of Navratri. These four days are known as Saptami, Navami, Ashthami, and Dashami.

Navratri in Tamil Nadu is about worshipping three Goddess- Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.  As mentioned above, in GOLU  is  celebrated with a particular arrangement of 9 stairs filled with beautiful dolls(idols of Gods and Goddesses)

In Kerala, last three days holds more significance. They place musical instruments and books in front of Goddess Saraswati on Ashtami and worship till Dashami.

In Karnataka, people celebrate Navratri for all nine nights since the Vijayanagara dynasty in 1610. It is known “Naada Habba” in Karnataka.

In Maharashtra, the nine days of Navratri is considered as a perfect occasion to begin new endeavors, purchase home, cars, gold, etc.

Punjabis do fast for seven days and end the fast either on Ashtami or Navami. They worship nine little girls and boys titled as “Kanjika.” They organize jagratas and worship Goddess Shakti all night.

In Himachal Pradesh, Navratri starts on the tenth day of Navratri when it ends in other parts of the nation. The tenth day is “Kullu Dussehra” is considered as the return of Lord Rama from his Ayodhya Journey.

Wrapping Up With A Message:

Apart from watching people groove to the tunes of Dandiya, the “Me Too” stories and statements has become the talk of the nation. It has definitely seized some attention from the festival. I expect the #metoo stories go off the list right from this Navratri 2018 and for years to come.

I feel it is high time we throw light upon this topic rather than just joining the crowd or supporting baseless allegations.

  1. As a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement, I myself want to add my voice to it, but it makes more sense when women do not hide it for 20 or 30 years. Thinking beyond “Me Too” is a need and women should practice being strong instead of playing the victim card years later”. In addition, there are women who spoil reputation with baseless allegations and walk free later. Is there be a law against such situation?
  2. This indirectly affects the employment factor as far as women are considered. As companies will rethink whether or not it will, it be wise to hire a women. Wouldn’t it be much easier for women to file a case even if she is asked to explain herself for poor work ethics?
  3. Instead of counting the person under hall of shame after years, and letting newspapers gain TRPs why is it impossible to slap him back and walk out like a high-value women? In addition, do these newsmakers have the grit to apologize when some men are assumed guilty and later proved innocent?

Being a woman, I am sure we all have experienced some level of discomforting situations and been a victim of ‘Me Too’ scenario. It may be in public places, at work place or during our travels. However, we hardly react to such nasty behaviors in our day-to-day life as it ends up spoiling our day. I would personally choose to hit the person instead of letting my emotions overpower my presence of mind. Things would be different for both parties if we take the right action at the right time.

I hope that, from this Navratri all women will take a stand for any violence or assault against them with the blessings of Goddess Durga.

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