Navaratri and Durga Puja

This weekend culminates the nine-day festival of Navaratri, Dasara and Durga Puja, celebrated by Indians around the world.

Vijayadashami also known as Dasahara, Dusshera, Dasara, Dussehra or Dashain is a major Hindu festival celebrated at the end of Navratri every year. It is observed on the tenth day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, the seventh month of the Hindu Luni-Solar Calendar, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October. While the basis of the festival is similar – the worship of Godess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati, the mode of celebration varies across communities.

  • Gujaratis – Gujaratis are known for their large dance parties known as ‘garbas’. Many grounds in the city play host to these garba celebrations. “We wear a traditional garment called the ‘chaniya choli,’ which is similar to a ‘lehenga’ but made with cotton fabric.” Performances include songs in praise of goddess Durga. The highlight of their festival is the dancing and singing.
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Students at an American university campus celebrating Garba
  • Marwaris – The Marwaris celebrate the festival of Navratri by worshipping goddess Shakti. The nine different forms of the goddess are worshipped on the rest nine days. “On the ninth day, there is a ceremony known as ‘Kanya Pujan’ where girl children are given traditional delicacies as a sign of respect to the goddess,” says Ekta Poddar, a student. Another ceremony called ‘havan’ is performed to mark the power and grace of Durga. The tenth day is ‘Vijayadasami’, the victory of good over evil, where idols of Ravan are burnt.
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Ram-Lila in Delhi
  • Tamilians – The Tamil community focuses on the ‘golu’ arrangement, or the doll display, during this time.The dolls are arranged on an odd number of steps and depict scenes from the Ramayana or even daily life. People are invited to the houses to view the dolls. The celebrations include singing and dancing.
GoluBombe
Golu, Bombe habba
  • Kannadigas – In Karnataka, Dasara or Vijayadashami is celebrated to commemorate the defeat of Ravana and Durga’s triumph over the demon ‘Mahishasur’. “We also have the practice of doll arrangement, called ‘Bombe habba’. We pay obeisance to goddess Saraswati and do ‘Ayudha Puja’ where we worship machines and other things that make our lives easier,” says Kavya, a resident on KR Puram.
  • Telugus – The community celebrates the Gombe Habba, the practice of setting up doll displays and distributes sweets to visitors. ‘Ayudha Puja’ and worship of the goddess Chamundeshwari on Dashami is also a part of their celebrations.
  • Bengalis – The Bengalis celebrate the festival for five days. On the sixth day, they conduct a ‘visarjan,’ the immersing of goddess Durga in water. The five days are celebrated with multiple pujas in the morning, followed by a community ‘bhog’ (lunch). Cultural programs are organised in the evenings.
  • Assamese – The Assamese people celebrate the festival of Durga Puja as a community. They set up statues of goddess Durga in large grounds, which also have food and gift stalls. Shivankar, a member of the Assam Association says, “On the last four days of the festival, we feast on homemade preparations. The maize crop that we grow is offered to the goddess.”
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