Navaratri is a Hindu festival that is dedicated to the Supreme Goddess. It is a 9-day festival, and on each of the 9 days, various forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped. People celebrate Navaratri differently in different parts of the country. For instance, in West Bengal, the Durga pandals are very famous. In other parts like Himachal Pradesh, it is also linked to the worship of Sri Rama.
In Tamil Nadu, too, Navaratri is an important festival. While 9 forms of Goddess Durga or Shakti are worshipped on the nine days, the 10th day is celebrated as Vijayadashami or Dussehra. Goddess Durga is the deity who is worshipped on the first three days. On the following three days, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped, and on the last 3 days, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped. The 9th day is the day of Saraswati Pooja or Ayudha Pooja when people worship their tools and work instruments.
In 2020, the festival of Navaratri begins on Saturday, 17th October, and comes to an end on 25th October. The Tamil people have their own way of celebrating the festival. A distinctive feature of Tamil Nadu’s Navaratri celebrations is the golu, which means ‘display’. It is an arrangement of dolls on a multi-tiered platform. The dolls can be of gods, goddesses, animals, ordinary people like farmers, dancers, etc. many of the dolls are handed down for generations. Every year, people also shop for new dolls to keep in their golu arrangement. Some golus are very elaborate, and a whole lot of time and effort goes into them. The golu is usually arranged by the women of the house, with the active and enthusiastic participation of the children. A recent trend is theme-based golus. After arranging the golu, the women invite their friends, neighbors, and relatives to their houses so that they can see it and admire it. The visitors are given sweets and small gifts too.
Nowadays, many Indians do not care to follow the customs and traditions in their community as they lack time or interest. But there are also many, especially those who live abroad, who are keen to follow such traditions so that their children can keep in touch with their culture and roots. Religious festivals in India often have a deeper meaning. They enrich our lives in many ways. For instance, Navaratri, by honoring the Goddess, teaches us to respect women and their innate strength. It also reminds us of the evils that lurk within us, like arrogance, ego, and greed, which are personified as demons. Thus, Hindu festivals are not empty rituals, they are occasions to renew our connection with the divine and remind ourselves that we are all a part of the divine essence.
Thanks to the internet, people who need information about Hindu culture, traditions, and rituals can access it easily. If you want to know how to keep a golu, the instructions are given below:
Things you need:
- Readymade golu steps. They can be made using boxes and tables.
- There should be 3, 5, 7, or 9 steps.
- A piece of white cloth like a veshti. Or use a colorful sari.
- Bell pins and safety pins to tuck the cloth with the stand.
- Kalash -.this consists of a brass pot filled with rice and covered with mango leaves, with a coconut on top of it.
- A mirror
- Idols of gods and goddesses, marapachi dolls, ashta Lakshmi set, dasavataram set, Ganesha set, idols of saints, freedom fighters, children’s toys, etc.
- Serial lights and decorative lamps
- A flower pond
- Things for creating a park (use any other creative ideas too)
- Using the above, one can keep a golu. If you want to have a particular theme, you can get the materials accordingly.
- Some dos and don’ts for Navaratri Golu
- Take bath, preferably a head bath
- Wear clean garments
- Draw a kolam in front of the golu daily
- Offer flowers to the gods in the golu display
- Light a lamp both in the morning and evening
- Offer neivedyam in the morning and evening. In the morning, keep some rice variety. In the evening, make some sundal or sweets. If not these, offer fruits, rock candy (kalkandu), jaggery, or raisins.
- Do Mangala arathi and recite some slokas daily.
- Invite married women and young girls in the evening and give them thamboolam.
- Study in front of Saraswati idol on the day of Vijayadashami day.
- Don’t stitch clothes at home during the 9 days of Navaratri.
- Do not cut nails or hair.
- Don’t dust the house (removing cobwebs), though you can sweep.
- Avoid non-veg food, onion, garlic, etc.
- Do not study on the day of Saraswati Pooja.
- Do not lock the house if you keep golu. Working women should be at home during Pooja time.
- Avoid fighting with people at home.