Our social, cultural and religious traditions have for long shown us the Divine Mother as the personification of shakthi (energy), in the three states of desire, intellect and creation (ichchA, njAnA and creA.)
Navrathri, nine nights, is dedicated to the aforementioned three thought forms and their physical manifestations of goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi, with three days dedicated to each one of them. The festival is during the lunar month of ashwin (Sep-Oct) of every year. Among the four Navarathri functions through the year, this one is known as Sharad Navarathri (Maha Navarathri) and is the most important across all over India.
Most of India celebrates the festival as a dedication to Durga, the goddess Shakti, to symbolize her victory over Mahishasura, the evil demonic force and tenth day, known as Vijaya Dasami, the “victory day” conclude the austerities and festivities with much fanfare.
Bomma Golu, the display of dolls depicting religious epics, mythological and social themes is unique to South India, especially Andra and Tamil Nadu. With each passing year, this aspect of Navarathri is gaining in popularity, with people competing to express their creativity. Kerala gives importance to learning during this time. In Tamil Nadu, the ninth and tenth day are dedicated the Goddess Saraswathi and the beginning of new learning.
In Karnataka, especially Mysore, Dussehra is a state festival, and on the tenth day, Mysore royalty worships the royal sword and takes it on procession. The lighting of the palace and the grand ceremonial processions attract a lot of tourists every year to Mysore.
In most north Indian states, the tenth day is celebrated as Rama killing the demonic Ravana, vanquishing the evil too; this is enacted as Ramleela with effigies of Ravana, Kumabkarna and Indrajith burnt symbolically.
Almost all through the south of India, Vijaya Dasami, is also celebrated as the commencement of new learning with special austerities performed to Goddess Saraswathi with tools of the trade and books.
Golu has taken off in a big way among the immigrant South Indian community, especially among people of Tamil Nadu. Golu displays these days include creative, artistic and technology ideas. Ladies doing “golu visits” show off their newly acquired assets of jewels and silk sarees for the customary vethla-pakkuand treats of protein rich sundals.
Shastha foods of Bay Area and Thendral (Tamil) magazine are jumping in to spice up the festivity by organizing several interesting contests from this year onwards and are planning award prices in several categories. For details on how to participate, please send email to : ShasthaNavrathri@gmail.com.
Some of the competitions are:
The best three grand Golus
The best three thematic Golus
The Best Golu of the day
Navarathri special costumes design contest
Navarathri creativity special
Navarathri Comic Moments (The best photos and videos you have taken).