Navaratri - some aspects of ths colorful festival

Among the Hindu festivals, Navaratri is a well-known joyous festival celebrated across India. The word Navaratri meaning  'nine nights' has its origin n Sanskrit. In Northern, Central and Western states of India, the Ramlila play is enacted during Navaratri by rural artists Navaratri festival is an occasion of classical and folk dance performances at Hindu temples. 

Some Hindu religious  texts such as the Shakta and Vaishnava Puranas, mention that  Navaratri theoretically falls twice or four times a year. Among them, the Sharada Navaratri that comes in the lunar month of Aswin - post-monsoon, September–October)post-monsoon, September–October (near autumn equinox) is  quite popular and is widely celebrated across India. The Vasanta Navaratri falls in March-April (near spring equinox); the lunar month of Chaitra) and is closely associated with the culture of north Indian states and it a harvest or post-harvest festival. The fifth day of this festival is often  observed as Vasant Panchami or Basant Panchami, the official start of spring in the Hindu tradition; goddess Saraswati is revered through arts, music,etc. Magha Navaratri: In Magha (January–February), winter season.  Ashada Navaratri: In Ashadha (June–July), start of the monsoon season.

Navaratri decorations,Kudroli temple, Karnataka,

In western and northern states Navaratri is  associated with Ramlila events - display of various episodes of the Ramayana. The final day Dussehra or Vijayadasami marks the burning of huge effigies of Demon Ravana depicting the death of the demon - evil force by Lord Rama. In NE India and West Bengal, it is held as  Durga Puja. Goddess Durga eliminates the evil minded Asura Mahisha by  killing him, restoring Dharma on earth. In Southern states display of dolls  of gods, goddesses, animals, birds, well-known miniature buildings, temples, etc., called Gollu in Tamil Nadu (Gombe or Bombe in Karnataka state and  Bommala Koluvu in Andhra), is quite prevalent and each day different avatar of goddess Parasakthi is worshipped at homes and temples. It is associated with folk and classical  dances, singing, etc., including display of attractive Gollu at major Hindu temples. At Hindu temples dances such as Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam performances by various troupes are held during the Navaratri. The same is true of Kerala temples where Koothambalams become venues of native classical dances, etc.

Idol of chamundriswari on golden howdah, mysore Oneindia Galler 

Oneindia Gallery

 Above image: Maharajah of Mysore Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar attends Mysore Dasara Navarathri Festival.  .....................

Mysore Dusseshra, headed by the royal members 
of Mysore, is quite popular in Mysore city. The 
credit goes to then Maharajah Wodeyar I who initiated Dessehra celebrations in 1610.  This Nanaratri tradition, inherited from the rulers of the Vijayanagar empire by the Wadiyars who started it  at Srirangapatna, continues even today.

On the 9th day, Royal Sword is worshipped and taken in  a procession of decorated elephants and horses. On the Vijayadasami day, the idol of Devi Chamundeswari is taken in a procession on a golden howdah (weight 750 kg) on the back of a decorated elephant. Ayudha Puja, dedicated to Saraswati is on the 9th day of Dussehra.  Dussehra is celebrated as Naada Habba, with the government funding the celebrations in the present times.

Durga Puja, Kerala.

Kollur Mookambika temple Vidyarambham

Vijaya Dashami day is considered auspicious for initiating the children into writing and reading Alphabet, which is called Vidyaraṃbhaṃ.This  done on a plate filled with rice or sand. This is quite common in the state of Kerala and also in parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Kerala Christians also follow this tradition of Vidyāraṃbhaṃ for their children and he venue is the church.  Navaratri, was one of the most famous annual festivals celebrated in the Travancore Maharajah's palace at Padmanabhapuram. From 1015 (Malayalam era) onwards the festival has been observed with piety and devotion. 

Navratri idols Sree Padmanabha Swamy ,Thiruvanthapuram TempleIndia Today -

Ghatasthapana (Mounting of jar) is observed on the first day of Navaratri in Maharastra. In rural households people on the stool keep a brass or copper jar above a mound of rice along with turmeric, mango, coconut leaves, staple grains, etc. An oil lamp is kept burning throughout Navaratri period, symbolic of household welfare and prosperity. On the fifth day goddess Lalitha is worshiped. Like other states, Ayudha Puja is celebrated with devotion. Vehicles, machines, instruments etc., become objects of worship.

 In the southern states Ashtami, Navami, and Vijaya Dashami of Sharada Navarathri are celebrated as Saraswati Puja in which books are kept in the Puja room for worship and prayer. In Andhra, the tradition of Navaratri goes back to the period of Vijayanagara - 14th century. Durga, Lakshmi and  Sarawati  are worshiped in that order during Navaratri. 

The common theme of Navaratri is 'there is no room for evil forces on this earth and God will appear then and there and eliminate them for the welfare of people'.