Navratri: Here's how different parts of India celebrate the festival

Navratri festival is held from October 15 to 23, this year. Photo: iStock/desifoto

Navratri, the festival that brings together different parts of India to celebrate the same occasion in myriad ways, is to be held from October 15 to 23 this year. The festival, which extends nine nights (Nav-Ratri) and 10 days, signifies the triumph of the good over the evil. The last day Vijayadashmi -- when Saraswati Puja and Vidyarambham, the initiation of the learning process for young children, is observed, is important for the people of Kerala. The annual Ratholsavam (Chariot festival) conducted on Mahanavami (the 9th day) at Kollur Mookambika Temple in Karnataka is famous across the world.

The ‘Bommakollu’, as part of which revellers carve out handcrafted dolls representing major deities, is observed at the same time in Tamil Nadu. While Navratri is primarily a Hindu festival, the Jain and Sikh followers also indulge in the celebrations. Let’s take a look at the Navratri celebrations in different regions of the country:

The Navratri is celebrated in a distinct style in Mysore. The Amba Vilas Palace, popularly known as the Mysore Palace, will be decorated and illuminated colourfully on all ten days and it offers a spectacular view. Dance, music, and traditional customs are all part of the festivities in the historical city. The origin of the Dussehra celebrations in Mysore can be traced back to the period of the Vijayanagara Empire four centuries back. The celebrations will conclude with a grand procession that features bedecked elephants and beautiful floats, accompanied by the playing of various percussions.

The traditional dances of Gujarat, ranging from Dandiya to Garba, form the major part of celebrations in Vadodara. The nine nights will witness thousands of talented artists performing graciously to the rhythm of the beatings of colourfully decorated sticks. The whole atmosphere will brim with fresh energy and new verve and it will be an unforgettable experience for travelers. Sweets will be distributed in large quantities on Vijayadashmi Day during the celebrations here.

Rasgulla, football and Dussehra puja are the three common things that link Kolkata and Bengal. The celebrations here hit a crescendo on the final five or six days of the festival season. Goddess Durga will be at the focal point of all the festivities. The Navratri celebrations will draw to a close by immersing the idols in the Hubli River.

In Varanasi, Lord Rama holds the central position of celebrations. The journeys to Varanasi, a historical city, always will be fulfilling ones. But during the festival, Varanasi offers a completely unique experience and adorns a distinct look altogether. The Navratri celebrations here last up to one month. It is during these days that Ramleela is staged at Ramnagar, a village on the banks of the Ganga.

The Navratri celebrations at Kota in Rajasthan primarily take place on the banks of the Chambal river. The festive season offers the best opportunity to learn more about the indigenous music and dance of Rajasthan, as well as the various folk art forms. Traditional craft workers and artisans from different parts of Rajasthan usually reach Kota with their products. Most of the locals taking part in the celebrations will be wearing the traditional attires. Camels, horses, and elephants caparisoned with colourful ribbons and jewels too will be brought in. The ritual of burning the gunpowder-laden effigy of Ravana also forms part of the Dussehra spectacles here.

On most days of the year, Kullu plays the role of a stopover destination en route to Manali as well as the Himalayas. But during Navratri, the hill station suddenly becomes the centre of celebrations. The festivities here begin on the final day of the Navratri season. The procession of chariots, in which chariots from various temples across the region will converge at Kullu and return, is the key attraction. The celebrations also comprise the performance of Ramleela as well as the burning of effigies.

The final three days of Navaratri - Ashtami, Navami, and Vijayadashami - are sacred days to worship Goddess Saraswati - the goddess of wisdom and learning, in Kerala. At houses and temples, books are kept aside, prayerfully. On Vijayadashami day, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped and the books are taken out. It is also the occasion on which kids are initiated into the world of letters through a ceremony called Vidyarambham. Ayudha pooja or the worship of weapons or materials used for one's work is also practiced during this time.

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