The month of October is marked with Durga Puja and Dasara celebrations everywhere in the country. While there are various stories about why the festival is celebrated – varying from Lord Rama defeating Raavan to Goddess Chamundeshwari killing the demon Mahishasura – what remains the same is the feeling of joy which is encompassing. And in a metropolitan City like Bangalore, which has people from every part of the country, there is a wonderful mix of cultural activities.
In the North, people celebrate the nine holy days of Navratri, after which there is the ceremonial burning of Raavan. “During Navratri, we usually fast during the day and eat only fruits,” says Prerna Gupta, a professional. “The burning of Raavan’s effigy (Raavan vadh) is something that doesn’t happen in the City,” adds Prerna.
In Bangalore, people decorate their homes with dolls and do the Saraswati Puja on the eve of Dasara. “Arranging the dolls is something that is commonly done in traditional families. It was originally done to re-enact the triumph of good over evil but extended into others things over time. Typically, little girls dress up in ravikkai paavaadai, go to different houses to view the dolls,” says Chandra Shekhar Balachandran, a professor.
“One day before Vijayadashmi, we celebrate Ayudha Puja when all tools, musical instruments, weaponry are cleaned and worshipped,” he adds.
“The most important days for us are the last three days. On Ashtami (eighth day), students worship their books which are then picked up only on Dashmi (tenth day). That is also the day when small children begin their education,” says Chandralekha Ramachandran Nair, an IT professional.
For the people from East India, this time is dedicated to Goddess Durga, who is installed in well-decorated pandals. The Poorve Bangalore Cultural Association in Brookefield is organising many cultural events showcasing prominent Bengali singers; a community feast; and a Kojagori Lakshmi Puja followed by Kali Puja. The Tripura Association on CMH Road will be celebrating Durga Puja till October 17. “The morning time will be dedicated to puja, pushpanjali and competitions for children. But in the evenings, there will be a lot of cultural events,” said Debasmita Bhattacharjee, one of the group members.
“We would be bringing the original old idol of Durga during the puja this year. We have been distributing free bhog everyday and will have a lot of cultural programmes during the festival,” says Alok Basu, the chairman of the Sarathi Socio-Cultural Trust in Koramangala.