Being a diverse country, everything including lifestyle, culture, food language is different in different parts of India. It’s no surprise then that our way of worshipping changes as per our diversified customs and rituals, giving that distinctive regional touch. The message being conveyed in the form of worship may very well be the same, but our way of communicating that message takes on a whole different flavour. The festive season for this year falls on October for 9 to 10 days depending on the place and culture of the region. Someplace celebrates Navratri and some call it Dussehra or Durga Puja or other names. People eagerly wait for this time of the year and depending on their customs and rituals of the region, they celebrate with great pomp and excitement.
Navratri in North India
In this part of the country, Navratri is celebrated as the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. We celebrate this festival with Ramlila where the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna, are burnt. This is how North Indians celebrate the victory of good over evil forces on the ‘Vijaya Dashami’ day.
In Gujrat, Dussehra is celebrated as Navratra. Celebrated on the first nine days of Ashwin month, devotees keep fast for 9 days and worship Maa Shakti. In the evening, an earthen pot with holes and diyas inside, also known as “Garbi”, is lighted and women perform arti with it. Garba is the prime ingredient of this festival in this state, which is the very famous folk dance of Gujarat. For playing Garba, men and women wear traditional attires that are Lehenga Choli for women and Kedia for men.
Mainly in the cities of Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar the last five days of Sharad Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja. The festival transforms the regions into a dynamic activity hub. Various theme based pandals are created where amazing idols of Goddess Durga along with other deities including, Ganesh, Laxmi and Saraswati are worshipped for 5 days. People desperately wait for this event from long. It is a very common sight to see Bengali women wearing their traditional red saree, decked up completely. The sounds of Dhol, Dhak, Dhunuchi Nach, the fragrance of agarbattis fill the air with freshness and purity. The celebrations of Durga Puja in West Bengal should be “must-watch” for everyone once in his lifetime.
Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
In Kullu, Navratri is celebrated with great enthusiasm for seven days. Here, the celebration starts on the tenth day of Navratri when the festival ends in other states. People celebrate the tenth day, also known as “Kullu Dussehra” as the day of return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya. On this day, the idols from the temples are taken out in processions. During the Navratri festival, the devotees visit various temples in Kangra, Una and Bilaspur districts of Himachal Pradesh to pay worship to Goddess Durga.
Punjab also celebrates Durga Puja in a beautiful way. They worship Goddess Shakti. The people keep fast on the first 7 days of Navratri and end their fast on Ashtami or Navami by worshipping 9 little girls and a boy, which is known as “Kanjika”.
Karnataka celebrates the 9 nights of Navratri in the same manner as was celebrated way back in 1610 by the great Vijayanagara dynasty. Madikeri’s Dasara is celebrated on a grand scale here. This vibrant carnival-like festival is also known as Mariamma festival and people perform folk dances dedicated to Draupadi. It is one of the most unique ways to celebrate Dussehra in Karnataka. A parade is also organized in which dramas including gods, goddesses, demons and elves are performed.
Tamil Nadu state celebrates the festival in an entirely different way. They bring a special religious feel in this festival by worshipping Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Almost every house of Tamil Nadu arranges the popular doll shows during Dussehra. It is said that the dolls that are used are handed over from generation to generation.