21-09-2017 Navarathri begins.
29-09-2017 Sarasvathy Pooja / Ayudha Puja
01-10-2017 Kolu ends ( dismantle and store for the next year).
Navratri is a very important and popular festival of India The nine days and nights of Navratri are entirely devoted to Mother Goddess. Navaratri holds a special significance in Gujarat and West Bengal. In Gujarat, the festival is celebrated to worship Goddess Jagdamba, and in West Bengal it is celebrated as Durga Puja. In the southern parts of the country, the Navratri is dedicated to the three avatars of Goddess Shakti - the first three days to Durga ,the next three days to Lakshmi ,and the last three days to Saraswati.
Display of small dolls made of clay, porcelain and idols of Gods called Kolu is the important ritual of Navaratri in South India. Throughout this period poojas, hymns, prayers related to the Ambals are practiced. People observe fast for the nine days in certain parts of India.
Customs & Rituals of Navaratri
- The main ritual of Navratri, celebrated on September-October, consists of placing idols of Gods and Goddesses in homes and temples in steps constructed in odd numbers such as 3,5,7,9,11 etc. It is ritual to place a *kalasam ( a brass or silver vessel –‘ sombu’ - filled with rice and dry turmeric tubers. A good coconut is placed over the mouth vertically.Mango leaves are placed around the rim) normally at the top step. The placing of idols starts after worshipping Ganesha. Various different decorations are made in the room where the kolu is kept. Children are given free hand to construct parks and other models around the kolu steps. People especially ladies of the neighborhood and relatives are invited during the nine days. Different types of sundals, sweets are offered as neivethyams and these are distributed to the visitors. Enthusiastic visitors sing hymns and bhajans sitting in front of the kolu.
- Each day different type of sundal such as Moong dal sundal, Channa dal sundal. Peanuts sundal, dry peas (pattani)sundal, Channa (kothukadalai) sundal, Karamani sundal ( sweet or salt) , and snacks such as Kunukkus are offered. If it is a Saturday Sigli or just ‘ellupodi’ is offered. The black channa (kothukadalai) is made on Saraswati pooja.
- The first three days of Navratri are devoted exclusively to the worship of Goddess Durga, when her energy and power are worshipped. Durga ashtothram are chanted.
- These fourth, fifth and sixth days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi ashtothrams are chanted. Goddess Saraswati is also worshippd on the fifth day, which is known as Lalita Panchami.
- From day seven, Goddess Saraswati is celebrated culminating in Saraswati pooja. During Saraswati pooja , you place all your childrens’ text books, writing materials, and for elders, books related to their profession are placed as a sort of thanksgiving.( house wives can place their cookery books, diaries, sloka books that they use daily)
- The ninth day is the final day of Navratri celebrations, which is also known as 'Mahanavami'. On this day, Kanya puja is performed, where nine young, kanyas (young girl childs) are worshipped. Each of these nine girls symbolizes one of the nine forms of Goddess Durga. The girls are offered food and a set of new clothes, bangles and other gifts as a gift from the devotees. (Though these practices are slowly becoming extinct in the cities, at least one kanya girl is invited)
- In South, the tenth day is called Vijayadasami and it is considered very auspicious to join classes, start any learning process or start a new venture.
- Dandiya and Garba dances performed on the evenings of Navratri, mainly in Gujarat.
- The tenth day is celebrated as Dussehra in a very grand scale in the Karnataka state.
Suggested sundals for each day: ( order is not mandatory for days 1 to 8)
- Payatham Paruppu Sundal
- Kadalai Paruppu Sundal
- Peanuts Sundal
- Karamani ( salt) sundal / Karamani Sweet sundal
- Pattani Sundal
- Mochai Sundal
- A snack such as Kunukku or Sweet Aval ( vella aval)
- Ellu podi ( if a Saturday falls in between , do that on Saturday)
- Black (brown) Channa - Konda kadalai sundal