Navratri is celebrated with great zeal all over India, spanning a period of nine nights. In its essence, this festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. However, in South India, Navratri is celebrated with a somewhat different perspective.
Yes, just like North India, devotees in South India also offer their prayers to all the 9 Goddesses during Navratri, with a separate Puja conducted for Goddesses Durga.
However, Goddess Saraswati who is also known to be the epitome of learning and wisdom gets a little more significance than all the others. She is revered as the Goddess of arts, music, love, writing and thus, on the ninth day of Navaratra, Goddess Saraswati is offered prayer to promote knowledge and peace.
According to the folklore, Navratri celebrations are closely associated with the significant battle of Goddess Durga and Mahishasura which is an epitome of victory of Good over Evil. And these nine days of Navratri celebrate Goddess Durga in her nine avatars namely Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri, and Sidhidatri.
Let’s discuss how Navratri is celebrated in the mystical land of South India?
In Kerala, the festival of Navratri has gained a very impactful stature, especially the days of Ashtami, Navmi and Vijaya Dashami. During all of these days, special importance is given to Saraswati Puja.
The ritual of Vidhyarambam is mainly performed on the last day of this ten-day festival. On this day, children are encouraged to learn and even start writing. There is a whole ritual for this adorable activity. As per the ritual, the child sits on the lap of his or her grandfather nearby the images of Goddess Saraswati and Lord Ganesha. The elder writes a letter and the child starts writing the same, marking the beginning of his or her education.
As mentioned, these last three days have immense significance. Poojavaippu is typically performed on the evening of the Durgashtami day. On this day, books and even work tools are also kept in the pious area of the house for Saraswati Puja. The following day is called Mahanavmi and Goddess Saraswati is worshipped on this day as well.
On the occasion of Vijayadashmi, people gift their teachers and seek blessings from them. Dance and music concerts are performed in various places. The devotees visit the Panachikkadu temple in the Kottayam district for offering their prayers and getting rid of negativity.
On the occasion of Navratri, traditional dances like Bharatnatyam and Mohiniyattam are organized in Hindu temples. In Indian history, many dance forms have been given a lot of importance and that is why many temples and palaces in the bygone era used to have dance halls. The temples are decorated and lit with diyas to perform Pujas and offer prayers.