Every year I eagerly wait for this time of the year, 'coz that the time when celebrations start… After a break of few days, shraad- when we pay homage to our departed family members, starts Navratra- a nine day period to worship the Goddess of Power- Durga. Post which, Dussehra is celebrated. After few days, Karwachauth (my first one this yearJ), then some or the other puja and finally Diwali. Time to buy and wear new glittering clothes, eat delicacies, observe fasts, arrange puja (and get amazing prasad), watch your city spend maximum on lighting the streets, clean and decorate your home on war-footing scale and pace to welcome Goddess Laxmi- the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity and eat-meet-and-dine with your near and dear ones without thinking about your workplaces.
I have been missing observing Navratri at home from past three years. No, I don't keep fast or anything, but I love the smell our home is filled with during these days- my mother would do daily aarti with cow-dung cakes and I would wake up with that pure smell and my mother would make sure to keep aside a large portion of the Prasad of dry fruits for me, 'coz I love it. On the last day, 7 or 9 little girls (kanyas) are fed with even more amazing poori-chana-halwa and so we would also get it. These things can also be prepared on any day of the year, but somehow it tastes awesome on that particular day only. I don't know the logic so don't ask me why.
I had been in South India from past three Navratris and it's nice to see, or rather know, that these 9 days hold equally good importance for South Indians as well and they are celebrated throughout India (all regions) in some or the other special way. Bengalis celebrate it in the form of Durga Puja- the biggest festival for them in the year. They put up magnificent pandals of the clay-made deities and offer puja in their unique way. Now the various Bengali Associations in various cities also put up such pandals. We attended two such pandals in Bengaluru this year. North-Indians, as I explained, observe fast during these days. Few, otherwise non-veg eating communities, transform into pure veg category during these 9 days. Few other communities, on the contrary, offer non-veg dishes to the Goddess as chadawa, which is later distributed as Prasad. Gujaratis arrange garba and dandiya nights and it has become famous throughout the world. Down here in South India, Ayudha Puja (8th or 9th day of this period) holds special importance. People worship their tools, workplaces, homes, vehicles and any other thing that hold special place in their lives.
The 10th day, marked as Dasahara or Dussehra or Dasara (Mysore), culminates the 9 day period of Navratri (nav-nine and ratri- nights). It is celebrated as the day when Lord Rama killed Raavan and is symbolized as the day of victory of good over evil. In North India, life-size effigies of Raavan, Kumbhkaran and Meghnaad are burnt (they are fitted with crackers). Many communities believe that this is the most auspicious day for children to start reading and writing and so they worship pens, pencils and books on this day and some schools, especially in South India, also start their yearly session on this day. I miss this day as well. We still have this child-like eagerness to go to some Dussehra mela, organized at various places in North India. Eat street food, watch the effigies being burnt and shop on special Dusshera-Diwali discounted prices.
Phew… these are the times when you miss being away from your family. Though we are undoubtedly going home on Diwali but will miss half the fun (or should I say, we have already missed it L )…
Btw, last year, Diwali was on 17th October and on 18th October our (mine and Nimit's) roka ceremony took place… Milestone, you see J
Cheers and have fun in this festive season…!!!!