In the end, the good always triumphs. In a land that is so diverse in nature, faith unites us all. The entire nation finds its discourse in celebrating the victory of good over evil. Call it Dussehra, Durga Puja or Navratri, the festival celebrates the emergence of good. The country wakes to togetherness and revels in the simple joys of life during this time.
Since time immemorial, we’ve worshipped eternity. To some, the killing of Ravana by Lord Ram is the manifest, while for some Goddess Durga’s triumph over the Mahishasura is representational of that finer belief. In the act of celebrating lies the diverse styles that make this religious fervor an act of unison.
Every meaningful pursuit is problem-solving in nature. In small ways, so is ours. Our pursuit lies in the triumph of eating and being healthy, made possible with our contamination-free fruits and veggies, grown just right.
Isn’t it fascinating that happiness finds so many exhibitions of expressions? Rituals, music, food, and celebrations. We all come together to make this a culturally rich event across the length and breadth of the country. From nostalgia to the passing of traditions, time is relayed through generations. A lot has changed, and a lot will never.
Here are a few glimpses of how we embrace a singular thought into diverse expressions
`Durga Puja: Kolkata
Come late September, or early October the scent of the Devil’s tree (Chatim tree) heralds the first whiff of the Puja. The artisan’s colony in Kumortuli hustles up for the final touches and the entire city transcends into a land of the exhibition with the central focus being on the homecoming of Goddess Durga, or ‘Maa’ as the people of the city call her. From the beating of Dhaak, to the Libations (Anjali), from the bhog (Prasad & community lunch) to the pandal hopping, enjoying the artistically made Puja Pandals that house Maa Durga and her sons and daughters (Saraswati, Laxmi, Karthik, Ganesha), Durga Puja from Kolkata is a true representation of a festival with soul.
Food is the centrepiece of this festival. From the Khichdi, to mixed vegetables in the morning and the pompous culinary affairs in the evening, people truly revel in food.
During this time, sweetness floats in the air. The otherwise bite of heat eases up as the smell of freshly made sweets communicates the joy of Navaratri. There is rhythm and colour to be found in every corner of the state, as people get ready for the joyous celebration. From the clay mounds where the deity is placed and the Parikrama takes place, to the folk dance – Garba, here, celebrations are at their most colourful and rhythmic rendition.
During the nine days of the festival, one indulges in the simplicity of eating fruits, and vegetables. Potato, Elephant foot Yam, and Sweet Potato are regularly consumed regularly while on fast. These dishes are prepared in rock salt, and not in normal salt. Millets such as Moraiya, Rajgiran & Sabudana are widely used.
Ram Leela: Delhi
The festival vibe thrives in every nook and corner of the city. The elaborate decoration of the temples and the theatrical version of Ramayana, culminating with the burning of effigies of idols-Ravana, Meghanad and Kumbhakaran at various locations of the city, form the tapestry of the celebration.
Most people fast for 9-days. There are many places in Delhi, where the Pandals of Goddess Durga are also made, where the community gathers to celebrate the festival with a carnival mood.
From the Navratri Thalis to the Chaats, from the Sabudana Khichdi to the Mordhan (a form of Khichdi with veggies) becomes the centerpiece of culinary interests during this time.
The pious beginnings of the festive month have several connotations. The celebrations hinge largely on the possibility of new beginnings. The Nava-Deepa, where the Diya (Lamp) is lit on the first day and is kept lit for the next 9 days, becomes the harbinger of positivity. The celebration of the victory of goddess Chamundeshwari over Mahishashura is been observed for more than 400 years, making the celebration a spectacle to watch.
Here, Ayudha Pooja is also done where vehicles are worshipped. Ayudha which means worship of tools is very common in this part of the country and is celebrated on the 9th day of Navratri. Goddess Saraswati is also worshipped in a few households. There is a common air of religious renditions with faith finding many forms, that signify celebrations in the southern part of the country.
In southern Indian states during Dussehra, dolls are worshipped in a divine form. It is referred to as Bommai Kolu in Tamil, Bommala Koluvu in Telegu and Gombe Habba in Kannada.
From Huli Thovve which is a popular gravy made out of Sweet Pumpkin or Ridge gourd, jaggery, Tur Daal, and Tamarind to Ambode also known as Dal Vada , along with Nimbehannina Chitrana a dish primarily made out of rice and snacks like Kayi Kadabu & Aloo Bonda are particular favourites.
Traditions, heritage and customs are still diverse, but despite all the difficulties that time tides us with, these festivities are a harbinger of hope, bringing the country together on the same pedestal of joy, happiness and faith, every year.