It’s nearly time for Navratri, the annual festival celebrating the devi. This year, the nine-day long event, which involves some prayer and a whole lot of eating, dancing and dressing up, starts on Wednesday, October 10. The festival is celebrated across the country in various ways. Here’s how some states mark the occasion.
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Gujaratis seem to have the most fun during Navratri. For the young, the festival is pretty much nine days of dancing garba and dandiya in wildly colourful outfits. The garba is done around an earthen pot known as garbo, which represents the womb. Devotees fast for nine days and pray before the garbo.
Bengalis celebrate Navratri as Durja puja, an event that really starts from the sixth day. People hop between pandals to check out idols of Durga defeating the demon Mahishasura and, most importantly, to eat bhog and fast food sold at stalls.
Golu is the Tamil Nadu version of Navratri. The centrepiece of the festival is an arrangement of dolls on nine steps. The steps represent the nine nights. Golu dolls are often family heirlooms that are passed down from one generation to the next.
In Karnataka, they celebrate Dussehra in a big way. The tenth day of the festival is usually marked in the north by burning an effigy of Ravana to mark Ram’s triumph over evil. In Mysuru, which gets its name from Mahishasura, Dussehra or Dasara as it’s known here, is celebrated with much pomp. A procession with an elephant bearing an idol of Chamundeshwari, an avatar of Durga, accompanied by dancers and musicians is carried out.
Like Gujaratis and Maharashtrians, Punjabis fast but only for the first seven days. On the eighth day of the festival, they break their fast by feeding nine girls, who represent the Devi.
In Maharashtra, Navratri is all about dandiya and garba events. These are held in building compounds, hotels and large grounds, where celebrity crooners like Phalguni Pathak and Parthiv Gohil draw hefty audiences.