Invoking the divine power

Community celebrations

Invoking the divine power

Aarti being performed at a household.

Navratri is celebrated by people across the country to commemorate the victory of good over the evil. Durga and her avatars are worshipped all through the nine days of the festival and special pujas are performed culminating with an aarti accompanied by traditional songs.

While the basic concept and beliefs practised are the same, each community in the City commemorates the festival in its own way adding their own flavour to the celebrations. “The Sindhi community celebrations take place at the Sindhi School every year. Most people fast for nine days preferring to keep to just fruit and milk for the duration. Aarti is performed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. We also have Homas and feeding of the poor every day,” says Ashok Sachdev, one of the organisers.

“Dandiya and Garba dances have also become part of our celebrations at this time. While our religious practices and customs are old traditions, the dandiya dances have been adapted into our daily programmes as they are so popular. The only difference is that the Gujaratis are very particular about dressing in the traditional manner while we are more modern,” he adds.

Like many Punjabis in the City, Pinky Paul celebrates Navratha each year with a series of customs and practices involving her friends and family in the carefully planned out programmes. “After seven days of fasting, we break our fast on the eighth day by offering prasad to young girls in a ritual called Kanchika
Pujan. Their feet are washed and then they are gifted with new clothes.

As tradition, puris, halwa and Bengal gram curry are then served to these young pre-pubescent girls by the devotees who have fasted. It is a form of thanksgiving to the Goddess for favours received  during the year and way of invoking her blessings for the coming year as well.

Married women, who come to the puja, are gifted with items of Sringar that they traditionally used to beautify themselves with, like kumkum, bindis and  bangles. Diet is very strict at this time with people abstaining from spicy, fried foods and keeping to fruit, milk and potato dishes,” she explains.

Jaikumar and his wife Padma celebrate Navratri like most Mysorean families do with big pujas at the family temple and prayers at home to invoke the blessings of the Goddess.

“Our community is the Naidu Balija and our celebrations mainly centre around the big Chandi Homa at the Rajarajeshwari Temple on Mysore Road. We abstain from non vegetarian food and while friends do visit over this period, the ostentation is kept more to the temple prayers rather than any other community celebrations,” he says.

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