Asha Desh By Asha Desh, 10th Oct 2016 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
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Festivals of Hinduism: Navaratri: Nine nights of festivities.


Navaratri or Dasera is a prominent Indian festival, celebrated in the autumn months. In Sanskrit, Nava means nine and ratri means night, so the literal translation of Navaratri is “Nine nights”. The tenth day is celebrated as Vijay Dashami, which translates as Victorious Tenth day.
This festival is celebrated all over India, and also in neighboring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, and Malaysia etc. The festivities and local lore differ from place to place.
In the southern states of India, the main part of the festivities is the display of Dolls in individual houses. In Tamil Nadu it is called “Bommai Kolu”, meaning Divine Presence, in Andhra it is called “Bommala Koluvu”, meaning Court of Dolls and in Kannada it is known as “Bombe Habba” , meaning “Festival of Dolls” .These traditional dolls are hand painted clay dolls or carved from wood. The dolls are generally arranged on a setting of odd numbered steps, like 3, 7, 9, or 11. The dolls depict deities, kings and queens, business people, and the everyday men, women, and animals. In short, it includes all living creatures. Mysore, the ancient place in Karnataka, India, still celebrates Dasera in all its pomp and glory. It is famously known for a great display of the lighted Maharaja’s palace and a traditional procession with elephants. In the northern states of India, like Gujarat, it is accompanied by nine nights of dancing, called Garbha, and Dhandiya, while in Bengal the prominent feature of the festival is the worship of the goddess Durga.
The three forms of the Divine Mother, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi are worshipped on these nine days.

Mahishasura Mardini

The legend is that there was once a demon named Mahishasura. He was inflicting all kinds of problems on everyone. Being very powerful, no one could defeat him. He had performed many austerities and had asked Lord Brahma, the creator, for a boon to be immortal. Lord Brahma would not grant that boon, however stipulated that the demon would meet his death only at the hands of a female. The demon laughed it off, thinking that this was Lord Brahma’s way of saying he would be invincible. When his trouble became unbearable, prayers for someone who could destruct him were invoked. Thus the incarnation of Goddess Durga with many pairs of arms manifested. Riding a tiger, and carrying multiple weapons in her many arms, she set out and killed him, fulfilling the prophecy of Lord Brahma. Hence she earned the name Mahishasura Mardini. (One who killed Mahishasura) This is implied to have occurred in Mysore; consequently the spot gets the name.

Legends for Navaratri

One of the significances of the presentation of the dolls is that it represents the assembly of Devi Durga’s court before she set out on her goal to kill the evil demon. The entire gathering prayed for Her triumph.
Another legend acknowledges the killing of the demon Ravana by Lord Rama. Ravana had ten heads, and Dasera means the destruction of ten heads or ten evils. (Dasha = ten, hara = destruction)


Today, the significance of Dasera or Navaratri is latently maintained. The celebrations are glorious. In South India many classical concerts are arranged, giving a chance for musicians and dancers to show case their talent. In the Western and Northern parts of India, there are various places where one can attend the Garbha dances and participate in them The dresses are colorful and the mood jubilant. In homes in India and many places over the world people display the traditional dolls from India in creative ways. Friends, neighbors and family members are invited to their homes to see them. People sing melodious songs when they visit the houses. Guests are offered a traditional dish made of Garbanzo beans and coconut, and a sweet dish. It is indeed a season for auspicious celebrations and socialization, to welcome and bring people together. What used to be a local festival is now wide spread, and is celebrated in many parts of the world.


Festival India, Hindu Deities, Hindu Festival, Hindu Gods, Hindu Mythology, Mythological Stories, Mythologies Gods, Mythology, Mythology Stories

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author avatar Asha Desh
Freelance writer. My genre is a mixed bag . My articles include Reflections on life, Humor with meaningful messages, Travel, Light reading and Fiction.

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