Monthly Archives: September 2011

Prasadams for the 10 days

First Day – Prasadam is Rava Kesari – Dedicated to Swarna Kavacha Durga

Second Day – Prasadam is Payasam    – Dedicated to Bala Tripura Sundari

Third Day – Prasadam is Lemon Rice   – Dedicated to Gayathri

Fourth Day – Prasadam is Udad Dal Vadai and Pongal    – Dedicated to Annapoorani

Fifth Day – Prasadam is Sweet Pongal/Curd Rice    – Dedicated to Lalitha Tripura Sundari

Sixth Day – Prasadam is Kheer/Puttu    – Dedicated to Maha Lakshmi

Seventh Day – Prasadam is Wheat Payasam   – Dedicated to Maha Saraswati

Eighth Day – Prasadam is  Kadamba Sadam  – Dedicated to Durga

Nineth Day – Prasadam is  Puliyodara, Udad Dal Vadai, Panakam  – Dedicated to Mahishasura Mardini

Tenth Day – Prasadam is  Ladoo  – Dedicated to Raja Rajeshwari

Apart from the above prasadams, it is also in custom to offer brown channa dal sundal on Thursdays and on Saraswati pooja day. And on Friday usually puttu made of rice and jaggery is offered. On Saturday, ellu podi made of sesame seeds and jaggery is offered.

Navratri Story

The story associated with Navratri can be found in various Hindu religious texts like Markandeya Purana, Vamana Purana, Varaha Purana, Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana, Devi Bhagavatam and Kalika Purana.

The story of Navratra is the symbolic message of the fact that however glorious and powerful the evil become, at the end it is the goodness that wins over all of the evil. The story is associated with Maa Durga and Mahisasura, the buffalo headed demon.

The story begins from the life of two sons of Danu called Rambha and Karambha who performed austerities by to gain extreme power and authority. When their prayers became deeper and austerities became exceptional, the King of the heaven God Indra got perturbed. Out of fear, he killed Karambha. Rambha, who came to know about his brother’s death, became more stubborn to win over the Gods. He increased the intensity of his austerities and finally got several boons from gods like great brilliance, beauty, invincibility in war. He also asked a special wish of not being killed by either humans or Gods or Asuras.

He then considered himself immortal and started freely roaming in the garden of Yaksha where he saw a female-buffalo and fell in love with her. To express his love, Rambha disguised in the form of a male-buffalo and copulated with the female buffalo. However, soon after that a real male buffalo discovered Rambha mating with the she-buffalo and killed him. It was due to Rambha’s inflated ego that killed him, out of which he has not asked his death to be spared from the wrath of animals. As the pyre of Rambha was organized, the female-buffalo, who was copulated with him jumped into the funeral pyre of Rambha to prove her love. She was pregnant at that time. Thus, demon came out of the head of a buffalo and human body and he was named Mahisasura (the buffalo headed demon).

Mahishasura was extremely powerful. He defeated the gods and the demons and acruierd power over the entire world. He even won over the heaven and threw devtas outside it. He captured the throne of Indra and declared himself to be the lord of the gods. The gods led by Brahma approached Vishnu and Shiva and evaluated them of the situation. In order to save the Gods, the three supreme deities emerged a light of anger, which combined to the take the shape of a terrible form and this was Durga. All the gods then granted this Goddess of power with all the supreme weapons they had. This is why; Durga is called the brilliance of all the Gods.

When the goddess was seen by Mahishasura, he was mesmerized by her beauty. Her then fell in love with her and proposed to marry her. The goddess said she will marry him, if he defeated her in the battle. Then began a scary and terrible battle between both of then which continued for nine days. Finally, on the last day, Durga took the form of Chandika and stood over the chest of Mahishasura and smashed him down with her foot. She then pierced his neck with her spear and cut off his head off with her sword. It is the day when Vijayadashmi is celebrated.

Significance of Navratri

Navaratri, in South India is celebrated with the following belief:

• The Goddess Para-Shakti, is worshipped in her three important manifestations as Mahakali orDurga (Warrior Goddess), Maha-Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity), and Maha-Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge).

• Though the Goddess is one, she is represented and worshipped in three different aspects.

• On the first three nights of the festival, Durga is worshipped; Lakshmi is worshipped on the next three nights, and then Saraswati Devi on the last three nights.

• The books are placed for Puja on the Ashtami day in own houses, traditional nursery schools, or in temples.

• The following day, the tenth day of the festival, is called Vijaya dasarni. Vijaya means “victory”, the victory over our own minds that can come only when we have worshippd these three – Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati.

• On Vijaya Dasami day, the books are ceremoniously taken out for reading and writing after worshipping Saraswati.

• Vijaya Dashami day is considered auspicious for initiating the children into writing and reading, which is called Vidyarambham.

• It is also said that Durga annihilated the demon Mahishasura after a relentless battle lasting nine days and nights.

• During the Navaratri, the Goddess “Para-Shakti”, is struggling to overcome the forces of vice, wickedness and egoism and on Vijaya Dashami (Dasara, the tenth Day commemorating victory), she conquers and destroys all evil forces (i.e. bringing to an end the atrocities of Asuras like Mahishasuran, Shumban, Nishumban, Madhukaidapan, Thumralochanan and Rakthabheejan).

Navarathri Golu

We bring to you the flavour of a very special festival in Tamilnadu – Navarathri – the nine nights.  This festival occurs in the month of September or October in the Gregorian calendar.  The Golu – the display of dolls that marks this festival is a colourful, social function.

Like any festival, Golu also has a significant connection with the agricultural economy of ancient India. It is said that in order to encourage dredging and de-silting of irrigation canals and riverbeds, the Golu celebration was aimed at providing demand for the clay material got from such cleansing to make the dolls for display.

The first three days are dedicated to Goddess Durga – a spiritual force to destroy all our impurities.

The next three days we worship Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth.

The last three days are devoted to Goddess Saraswathi – for wisdom and therefore success in life.

Saraswati puja is performed on the 9th day. Ayudha Puja or the worship of implements, is also conducted on the Ninth day with much fanfare. Weapons, agricultural implements, all kinds of tools, and automobiles are decorated and worshipped on this day along with the worship of Goddess. Today, the computer and other items that facilitate our day-to-day life also find a place in this worship. Students include their books and so do professionals, particularly accountants.

The tenth day, Vijaya Dashami or the victorious tenth is considered auspicious for beginning any new venture be it an enterprise or a child’s schooling or music lessons.  It is believed that beginning a new venture on this day guarantees its smooth progress.

The Golu itself is set up on the new moon day preceding the festival.  It is an arrangement of steps – an odd number like 3, 5, 7 or 9 and sometimes more.  There is a certain tradition for the order in which things are placed – almost akin to evolution.  The bottom step is usually reserved for shells and other products of the sea.  The second is for plant life – fruit, vegetables, etc.  The third step has animals and birds.  The fourth step is home to man in various roles.  The Chettiar – the fat jolly shopkeeper – is an integral part of the display.  His wares range from groceries to furniture and anything from a pin to an elephant!  This signifies prosperity.  Next come the saints who with their devotion moved a step closer to God.  Just above them come the incarnations of the Hindu pantheon who were born to vanquish evil and restore order whenever the world was in chaos.  The topmost step houses images of the Gods themselves.

Apart from this order, it is customary to have a pair of Marapaachi dolls usually inherited from an earlier generation, and a kalasham or a ceremonial pot with a coconut surrounded by mango leaves.

The lady of the house supervises the arrangement of the dolls.  All nine evenings are spent in visiting one another and admiring the different Golus.  Visitors are offered manjal-kumkumam, flowers and sweets.  Beautiful classical music is heard everywhere.

On the tenth day, one of the dolls is symbolically made to lie down with a lullaby and the kalasham moved a little to the north, signifying the end of the festival, and an ode of gratitude for the successful completion of the nine days of celebration, and a hope for another Golu the next year.