Navratri, one of the most significant Hindu festivals in India, is a nine-night celebration that varies by region. While the west and north are known for the exuberant garba and dandiya raas dances, in the east, the festivities transform into the grandeur of Durga Puja. Beyond these well-known celebrations, Navratri holds diverse and captivating traditions in southern states, transcending regional boundaries.
1. Bathukamma in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
In Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Bathukamma is a nine-day festival that mesmerizes with its unique rituals. This vibrant celebration is dedicated to the Goddess, culminating in a colorful floral extravaganza. Women create flower stacks for several days, and on the final day, these floral arrangements are released into a water body. This ritual symbolizes a profound connection to nature and history, making it a standout tradition of Navratri in these states.
2. Golu Dolls in Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu, the nine days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Durga, and Goddess Saraswati. A unique tradition known as Golu dolls is central to these celebrations. Devotees display intricately crafted dolls portraying mythological characters, animals, and people on makeshift staircases called Kolu. These cherished dolls are passed down through generations, and the festivities are an integral part of the Navratri celebrations in Tamil Nadu.
3. Poojavaippu in Kerala
In Kerala, the final three days of Navratri hold profound significance. On Mahaashtami evening, Poojavaippu is a sacred ritual performed to honor Goddess Saraswati. Devotees offer her idols, books, and musical instruments as symbols of knowledge and wisdom. The culmination of Navratri, known as Vidhyarambam, features Puja Eduppu. During this ritual, items offered to the Goddess are removed, and children aged two to six are encouraged to write alphabets on sand or rice, marking the beginning of their educational journey.
4. Mysore Dasara in Karnataka
In Karnataka, Navratri aligns with Mysore Dasara, a festival dedicated to Goddess Chamundeswari of Chamundi Hill. The grandeur of this celebration is evident in the decoration of the Mysore Palace with lights and flowers. A highlight of Mysore Dasara is the “Jamboo Savari” procession, featuring elephant parades, with one elephant carrying the idol of the Goddess. Additionally, people celebrate by adorning their homes with beautifully decorated dolls, visiting loved ones’ houses, and exchanging coconuts, garments, and sweets.
These diverse traditions across India highlight the richness and cultural diversity of Navratri celebrations. While dandiya and garba are iconic, these lesser-known rituals and festivities add depth and uniqueness to this grand festival.”