NAVRATRI - Oberoi International School

NAVRATRI The PTA celebrates the diverse cultural traditions of India with a display of traditional dolls from South India . We welcome you to this unique celebration.

School Lobby 29th Sept- 1st Oct 2014 During school hours. THE STORY OF NAVRATRI This is a small effort to bring to the OIS Community, the story of one of Indias much awaited festivals- Navratri/ Dussehra/Dasara. The festival is celebrated all over India to symbolise the triumph of good over evil. The origins of the festival are shrouded in the mists of time and its many stories are oft repeated. The festival and its varied celebrations offer an interesting glimpse into the multicultural country

that is India. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did putting it together for you. Wishing you all a safe and prosperous festive season. PTA (2014-2015) Southern India The legend goes, that Mahishasura, the mighty demon, worshipped Lord Shiva and obtained the power of eternity. Soon, he started killing and harassing innocent people and set out to win all the three lokas.

The gods in swargaloka appealed to Lord Shiva, to find a way to get rid of the demon. To protect the world from the atrocities of Mahishasura, the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva united their powers and created a divine female warrior, known as Goddess Durga. So fascinated was Mahishasura by Goddess Durga's beauty that he approached her with the intention of marriage. The goddess agreed to marry him, but put forth a condition - Mahishasura would have to win over her in a battle.

Mahishasura, proud as he was, agreed immediately! The battle continued for 9 nights and at the end of the ninth night, Goddess Durga beheaded Mahishasura. The nine nights came to be known as Navratri, while the tenth day was called Vijayadashmi, the tenth day that brought the triumph of good over evil. Eastern India As per the legend prevalent in East India, Daksha, the king of the Himalayas, had a beautiful and virtuous daughter called Uma. She wished to marry Lord Shiva, since her childhood.

In order to win over the Lord, she worshipped him and managed to please him as well. When Shiva finally came to marry her, the tiger-skin clad groom displeased Daksha and he broke off all the relationships with his daughter and son-in-law. One fine day, Daksha organized a yagna, but did not invite Lord Shiva for the same. Uma got so angry at her father's rude behavior, towards her husband, that she decided to end her life by jumping into the agnikund of the yagna, where she was united with eternity (since then, she came to be known as Sati). However, she took re-birth and again won Shiva as her groom and peace was restored. It is believed that since then, Uma comes every year with Ganesh, Kartik, Saraswati and Laxmi and two of her best friends or 'sakhis', called Jaya and Bijaya, to visit her parent's home during Navratri.

Yet another legend of Navratri relates to the Hindu epic Ramayana. It goes that Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in nine aspects, for nine days, in order to gather the strength and power to kill Ravana. He wanted to release Sita from the clutches of powerful demon king Ravana, who had abducted her. Those nine nights became to be known as Navratri and the tenth day, on which Lord Rama killed Ravana, came to be called Vijayadashmi or Dusshera, signifying Rama's (good) triumph over Ravana (evil). Festivities were first started by the Wodeyar King, Raja Wodeyar I (1578-1617 CE) in the year 1610. The

Mysore Palace is lit up on all the 10 days of Dasara. PROCESSION On Vijayadashami, the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jamboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysore city. The main attraction of this procession is the idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari which is placed in a golden howdah on the top of a decorated elephant. This idol is worshipped by the royal couple and other invitees before it is taken around in the procession. Colourful tableaux, dance groups, music bands, armed forces, folklores, the royal identities, decorated elephants, horses and camels form a part of the procession which starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantap, where the Banni tree is worshipped.

According to a legend of the Mahabharata, Banni tree was used by the Pandavas to hide their arms during their one-year period of Agnatavasa (living life incognito). Before undertaking any warfare, the kings traditionally worshipped this tree to help them emerge victorious in the war. The Dasara festivities would culminate on the night of Vijayadashami with an event held in the grounds at Bannimantap called as Panjina Kavayithu (torch-light parade). Durga Puja or Sharadotsav is an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It refers to all the six days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Nabami andVijayadashami. Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Thus,

Durga Puja festival epitomises the victory of Good over Evil. The prominence of Durga Puja increased gradually during the British Raj in Bengal. After the Hindu reformists identified Durga with India, she became an icon for theIndian Independence movement. In the first quarter of the 20th century, the tradition of Baroyari or Community Puja was popularised due to this. After independence, Durga Puja became one of the largest celebrated festivals in the whole world. It is also the largest open Air Art Exhibition in the World. Durga Puja also includes the worship of Shiva, who is Durga's consort, in addition to Lakshmi, Saraswati along with Ganesh and Karthikeya, who are considered to be Durga's children. Mother Nature is worshipped, through nine types of plant (called Kala Bou"), including a plantain (banana) tree, which represent nine divine forms of Goddess Durga.

Modern traditions have come to include the display of decorated pandals and artistically depicted sculptures of Durga, exchange of Vijaya greetings and publication of Puja Annuals. The main feature of Dussehra celebrations in Delhi , Kota and many other cities in Uttar Pradesh is the Ramlila performances that take place in the evenings all over the city. These plays re-enact scenes from the much loved Hindu epic the Ramayana. They tell the life story of Lord Rama, culminating with his defeat

of the demon Ravan on the tenth day, Dussehra. For many, Dussehra means displaying big clay idols of goddess Durga and her entourage and worshiping her with devotion and gaiety. But for the Telugu, Tamil and Kannada households, Dussehra also means the festival of Bommala Koluvu or Kolu (display of dolls). Bommala Koluvu (Court of Toys), which is an integral part of the nine-day festival, witnesses exhibition of dolls of animals and birds and also figurines depicting the rural life of their community. Their modest village life, culture and tradition are represented in Koluvu.

Decorated with colourful lights, Koluvu is adorned with dolls of all hues, predominantly, with that of gods and goddess depicting mythology. It is a traditional practice to have at least some wooden dolls. Koluvu should conventionally have a figurine of a boy and a girl together. The kolu keeps alive the tradition of narrating stories through toys/dolls and promotes a cottage industry. Several households use the kolu to highlight contemporary issues having social significance. Navratri is one of the most popular and widely celebrated Hindu festivals in many parts of India. Gujarat, however, is the only state that erupts into a nine-night dance festival, perhaps the longest in the world. Each night, all over the state, villages and cities alike, people gather in open spaces to celebrate feminine

divinity, referred to as Shakti. The dance form known as Ras Garba (also joined sometimes by dandiya, which uses small wooden sticks), comes from Lord Krishna's worship rather than Goddess worship, from the Gop culture of Saurashtra and Kutch. Stories of relationships between Krishna and the Gopis, and their emotions, also often make their way into the ras garba music. Nevertheless, the focal point of every garba circle is the small Goddess shrine erected by each community to mark the beginning of the festival, on the first day of the Hindu month of Ashwin. The shrine includes a garbo, an earthenware pot, in which a betel nut, coconut, and silver coin are placed. Each night the village or urban neighborhood gathers to perform a puja to one of the nine forms of Goddess. The nine nights are also broken up into sections of three; the first is for Durga, the goddess who

destroyed an evil force represented by the demon Mahishasura, and who destroys human impurities; the second is for Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity; the third is for Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and art. It is a time to celebrate fertility and the monsoon harvest, represented by a mound of fresh soil in which grains are sown. After the puja begins the music; it is unmistakable to those who are familiar with the style and irresistible to many. People begin to dance in a circle, whirling away till late into the night. The states of Punjab, Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have a unique way of paying obeisance to Goddess Shakti. Most of the

people go on a fast for the first seven days. They also organize a jagraata (keeping awake whole night by singing devotional songs dedicated to the Goddess). On the eighth day or Ashtami, the fast is broken by organizing a bhandara for 9 young girls (Kanjika). A bhandara means a feast that includes puris and halawa chana. The girls are also gifted with a red chunri.

While great care has been taken to include all the traditions followed in India, it may be possible that, owing to the great diversity that exists, some may have been missed. This omission is unintentional and we sincerely apologise for that. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions. PTA(2014-2015)

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