Navrathri wishes to one and all. May this festival bring determination,devotion and dedication to everyone. After all these 10 days are the days when our dearest Mother Goddess, Ma,Matarani, Maiyya, Aai, Amba,Ambe, Jagadamba, Mauli, Durga, Ambal, had to struggle tooth and nail to kill Mahishasur, Raktabeej and Shumb -Nishumbha Rakshasas/ Demons. These ten days tell stories of penance and hardwork which goes into achieving anything as invincible as killing an enemy. Today enemy is not any Mahishasura. I get little philosophical here. Each one of us fights the evils and the demons inside us. We all have good and bad(relative of course).
Journey of a devotee:
And then the journey to eternal truth starts. This often begins with rituals. Saguna Upasana and the Nirguna upasana. Saguna Upasana meaning believing the fact that God exists in form and worshiping the same while Nirguna Upasana meaning having the faith in formless.From rituals via spirituality to self actualization. This is the way for us the common 9-5 job people. (common man). Everyone has his own path. Some are at rituals and many believe that God is formless.
Various ways of celebrating Navratri-Maharashtrian Style:
Navratri in India has various forms. Shakti upasana( the worship of the Goddess-power) is a celebration. This Navratri festival also has relevance with reference to Lord Shri Ramar and Ravana. It is after these 10 days of war/yudhha, that on the day of Dashehra, Shri Ramar had killed Ravana. These are the 10 days which led Pandavas to find their weapons after their penance in the forest of 14 long years and adnyatwas (hiding secretly in the forest so that no one finds them)of two years. They had hung their weapons on the sacred Shami tree(as they call in Marathi). These three events in Indian mythology are celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion in North India.
Three & half Shaktipeethams in Maharashtra & celebrations in North India:
In Maharashtra, we have three and half Shaktipeetham or places which have stronghold of Shakti- Power. Mahalakshmi-Kolhapur, Bhavani-Tuljapur, Renukadevi-Mahur are considered as three whole and Saptashringi at Vani is the half shakti peetham.
Generally, ‘Ghatastapana’ or installation of Ghat(clay pot with water filled inside) is done with mantras on the first day of Ashwin month in Hindu calendar. They also sow some seeds in the soil(preferably from their fields) and let the seeds germinate, and grow until 10 days. This soil sown with seeds is planted next to the Ghat. There is also a ritual to keep the ‘continuous lamp’ for the entire 9 days. Many people observe strict fasting during these 9 days. Some eat light and moderate food. Various naivedyams/offerings are made to the Goddess throughout the day. Kanyaka pujan( worshipping the Goddess in the form of small girl) and Sawashna/suvasini pujan is done to worship the form of Goddess in a married woman’s form.
Prayers & Recitals:
Yagna, Shri Saptashati patham(recital of the Saptashati scripture/text), Gondhal – a prayer with drums called sambal is performed amidst midnight and so are bhajans sung during the Maa Sherawali ka Jagrata. People pray in midnight too, this prayer is called as Jagrata.The play of Garba is no new to anyone. Pandal hopping by Bengalis on the occasion of navratri is also very well-known. Everyday Arti is performed for the Devi/Goddess and shlokas, stutis, prayers,ashtaks are offered to her.
On the tenth day people celebrate the victory of good over bad, victory of Goddess over Mahishasura, and the victory of Shri Ram over Ravana by firing up the statue of Ravana by assembling as a community. We, in Maharashtra also offer aptyachi pane-sonyachi pane or the leaves of shami tree to elderly people and seek their blessings. There is a tradition to clean our vehicles,machinery and worship them on Dashehra. This is with reference to the Pandava story where they had found their weapons/Gandiv Dhanushya(Arjuna’s bow) after his penance of 14 years.
Six Enemies & Navratri:
The philosophy behind celebrating Navratri is to fight the ‘six enemies’ evils and demons inside our heart. The Shatripu(shat meaning six and ripu (enemies) which bind us from attaining the highest state of self actualization are kama(lust), krodh(anger),lobha(attachment) mada(ego and pride) and matsar( jealousy). Abstinence from over indulgence in food, sleep, pleasing the senses keeps you awake and vigilant and thus helps you focus on your target keenly.
South Indian Way of celebrating festival -Golu:
In South India, we celebrate Golu festival by placing golu dolls on the steps which are generally in multiples of three. We have first three days of Navratri dedicated to worshiping the Parvati (Shakti form of God) ,the next three days are devoted to worship the Lakshmi form of the Goddess and the last three days we conduct the Saraswati puja. Kalasham is placed which is filled with grains and rice. Kalasham is topped over by the coconut. Leaves of the Mango trees are used to cover the coconut.
About the dolls
These dolls are the statues (clay,paper mache) of various Indian Hindu Gods and Goddeses. Golu is a collection of stories from Hindu mythology and folklore in the form of Dolls. The purpose is to pass on the knowledge of Indian mythology to the next generation.
Maslow Heirarchial model & relevance of Golu Steps:
The golu dolls are arranged mostly in the way where the lowest step is dedicated to animals or people like you and me(the commoners).The farmers, the shopkeepers,the vegetable vendors, the various other people who are trying to attain the next level of needs after satisfying their basic needs of food,clothing and shelter. The Maslow’s hierarchical model comes handy to explain this equation of 9 or more steps. The next steps from 4-6 are for human beings who have attained self realization,saints or legends or Mayawi.
The highest step:
Then on the steps ahead are various Gods and Goddess. The Golu depicts many incidences from Indian mythology like Samudramanthanam(the churning of oceanby asuras and the suras) or Shri Rama Kalyanam/ Vivaha. It is a pleasant sight and beautiful experience to see so many mythological incidences displayed aesthetically in nine steps. The festivities include offering of Sundal to the God. Sundal means a shallow fry given to the various soaked cereals and pulses. Goddess in the form of small girl or in the form of married woman is felicitated daily.
Various shlokas,hymns are sung in the praise of Goddess. Saraswati puja (Goddess of Knowlegde,Arts, Music ) is worshipped on last but one day and then the one of the Golu is made to sleep on the last. Thus, celebrating the puja.
The aim of any celebration should be to go from ritualistic approach of worship to self actualization. This may take several years and eons and many lives.Hopefully your search for HIM/HER -the ULTIMATE, the divine or the brahman ends here on this Navrathri.
We ,the5ammommy, brings to you ‘ Know your Golu’ series. In this we bring you unique Golu dolls and their stories on all nine days. Keep watching the space for more.
On Dashehra, the Goddess is believed to go for Seemolanghan or pushing the extra mile . read here for more