Navaratri celebrtions in the Southern states of India

 Being a country of diverse cultures and  communities in India there is a vast variety of religious festivals. But, the mode of celebration varies among the states. Navratri function is considered as one of the important Hindu festivals. 

Like any other part of the country, Navaratri is celebrated in Southern India with as much fervor. It is a great colorful event  when people invite friends, relatives and neighbors to their homes for feast and friendly chat..  This festival of 10 days and nine nights is  dedicated to the invocation of three goddesses – Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati equally, the goddess of  wealth, valor and wisdom respectively.   Saraswati is the most significant in South Indian traditions.

In the southern sates like Andhra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and Kerala no no less emphasis is placed on the Dasara celebrations.  The festival is held with great devotion and  joy as in the NE  and western states where Durga Puja is quite popular. . 

Navaratri Golu,display,

Kerala: Vijayadasami day,Vidhyarambham or Ezhuthinu for the kids,

Kerala: pujaveppu.

In Kerala ,the final three days of Navaratri - Ashtami, Navami, and Vijayadashami-are important  beginning with ‘Poojavaippu’;  it is performed  on the evening of Durgashtami. The following day or Mahanavami is set for  worship of  Saraswati Puja or the Ayudha Puja. On this day, books, musical instruments, working tools, machinery linked to a profession are given importance and puja is conducted. reverentially  as they play crucial role in our livelihood.  The day of  Vijayadasami, is known as ‘Puja Eduppu’ and this day is chosen to introduce the youngchildren  (between the age of 2-6 years)  to the world of knowledge and education. Known as Vidhyarambam’, a religious ritual to make the  child  for the first time  to write the alphabet on a plate of rice. Invariably, the venue is the temple, where the initiation ceremony starts under the guidance of a teacher -Guru after prayer to the temple deity there.  Normally the goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati are prayed on these occasions.. This ritual is normally common among  many communities, in particular  Gowda  Saraswat Brahmins (Konkani speaking) and Tamil Brahmins 

Tamil Nadu:

women participating in Navaratri Golu.

In  state of Tamil Nadu, where Navaratri is celebrated with much religious fervor,  the first three days of the festival are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, the next three days to Goddess Durga, and the last three days to  Goddess Saraswati. The presentation of Golu,  colorful  traditional dolls (mostly mythological) placed on the step-like wooden planks. (Golu stand is similar to a  stairway wooden  structure). The size  of  dolls and themes vary.. Normally, the wooden steps on the racks vary from 3 to 11 (usually in odd numbers - 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11).

In cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, etc.,  the  music subhas organize music(Carnatic) and  dance concerts and performances. In the villages,  Pulikali (tiger dance) is performed by trained people accompanied by certain drums. This native Koothu dance is on the decline nowadays on account of lack of interest among the youngters.   Many temples in this state display Golu on the temple premises. 

Before 1960s Golu was mainly arranged in the homes of the Brahmin community. In the Agrarharams - the place where Brahmins  live in the villages, young women  would visit the neighboring families and after formalities would sing a song or two (Carnatic). Nowadays people from other communities have Golu during the festival and engage in various religious activities, like singing, etc. The day of Ayudha Puja is a govt. holiday in TN and countless shop owners,  taxi, auto drivers, machine shop owners  take a break and offer puja to them as they are the main source of income for them.  


Dasara festival at the Mysore palace, Karnataka.

As in Tamil Nadu,  in Karnataka  certain communities have Golu consisting of many well-decorated dolls. People visit each other exchange coconuts, clothes and sweets among themselves. Common in the villages are what is normally called Thru Koothu - episodes  from mythology and puranas are enacted.  A large number of devotees visit the famous Kollur Mookambika temple in Udupi. District and offer prayer. Navratri coincides with the ‘Mysore Dasara. It is is a legendary spectacle, rather colorful extravaganza  that honors goddess Chamundeswari of Chamundi Hill, or an avatar of goddess Durga,  The palace of Mysore is richly decorated with lights and flowers during the festival In the Mysore Dasara, “Jamboo Savari”, a famous procession is a grand event, in which, one of the elephants  carries goddess Chamundeswari.

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh:

Tirupathi Balaji temple, Navartri Brahmostchavam.(Oct)

Bathukamma or bathukamam, a fascinating  festival in Telengan and Andhra; it is about  sari-clad women making  flower stack with local flowers and on the final day this stack is left afloat  in a local water body. The nine days  are dedicated to Maha Gauri  who is supposedly  the goddess  of womanhood. . Women dress up in the traditional sari and also wear jewels and other accessories.
In all south Indian homes an oil lamp (preferably a tall brass lamp) is lit in the Puja room in front of the deities through out the festival and in the morning and in the evening  women chant  devotional hymns and shlokas  as part  of invocation of  of goddesses.