Navaratri festival in Tamil Nadu is celebrated to praise and pray to the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. The tenth day which is the tenth lunar day in Hindu calendar is celebrated as the “Vijayadashami” or Dussehra. For anyone who has never witnessed the fervour and celebrations of Dusshera down South, the entire experience of the Golu celebrations can leave you enchanted.
When Is Navaratri Celebrated In Tamil Nadu?
Navaratri is celebrated from the next day of the new-moon day (Mahalaya Ammavasai) in the Tamil month of Puratasi. It starts with puja for Goddess Durga, Lakshmi, and followed by Saraswati. After the Saraswati Puja Day, Navaratri ends with Ayudha Pooja and Vijayadashami.
Why Is It Celebrated?
Navaratri is celebrated to remember the victory of Goddess Parashakti over the evil King Mahishasura. The festival is a representation of victory of good over evil. The tenth day of Navaratri is celebrated to remember the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana.
How Is It Celebrated?
People in TN place a Kalash on the first step of the Golu as a representation of Goddess Parashakti. The Kalash is filled with rice and dal and a coconut coated with turmeric is placed above the Kalash. People place dolls of gods and goddesses in 3/5/7/9 steps arrangements along with the Kalash. It is believed that the dolls are the court of Goddess Shakti as well as the representation that everything is her creation. The Dolls are collected over many years and are often passed on through generations.
Pujas and Offerings
During the nine days of the festival, women perform various pujas and fast during the day. It is believed that performing prayers during this period is stronger than any time of the year. Every day after the puja and aarti, people offer “Sundal” made from one of the Navadhanyams (9 grains) for the goddess and distribute the offerings to kids and women in the neighbourhood.
Evenings are the most pleasant part of the day during the “Golu” festival. Devotees dress up for the occasion and visit each other’s Golu decorations at home as well as in temples. They sing songs & bhajans and pray to the goddess. Visitors are offered with beetle leaves, banana, coconut, and Vermillion along with gifts during Navaratri. In order to make things creative, these days people decorate their houses with models of parks, zoo, cricket ground, hills, sometimes even flyovers and city structures.
Doll Arrangements (Golu)
Mylapore one of the prominent Hindu community localities in Chennai is known for its year-on-year Golu decoration competitions. People bring the best of their creativity with innovative ideas each year for these competitions. Some of the notable doll decorations that you can find in every household include the Dasavatara (10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu), Asta-Lakshmi (8 incarnations of Goddess Lakshmi),”Durga Lakshmi Saraswati”, Families of Lord Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Raas Leela enchanted /Krishna Leela and more.
Other notable and most important doll arrangements include dolls of great saints, gurus, Alwars and Nayanmars (to praise humanity), dolls of birds and animals (to praise other creations), “Chettiyar Thatha and Paati” set along with pulses, vegetables, kitchen things (to praise the trading community), and other dolls that represent the Hindu culture.
It is believed that worshipping Goddess Saraswati by placing books in front of her will help us gain good knowledge. During the Saraswati Puja day, people do not take their books out and read as it is considered inauspicious to take the books placed before the goddess.
Ayudha Pooja day is considered to be auspicious to start any new business, buy new vehicle or tools. During this day people perform puja of their cars, bikes, and instruments used at work by thanking them for being useful in their life and praying for a better future. During the Vijayadashami day, parents send their kids for the first day of school. It is considered as the best day to start any new learning activity.
Popular Temple Celebrations In TN
- Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
- Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Mylapore
- Mutharamman Temple, Kulasekharapattinam
These temples along with many other local temples in each town/city grandly celebrate the Navaratri festival. The temples are open throughout the day during all nine days.