Navratri is celebrated in Southern India with similar zeal and fervour as in North India. As we invite Kanyas/ little girls and perform their pooja on ahstami and navami, the celebrations remains a little different in Southern states, but if full of pomp and joy.
The ‘navratris’ or nine nights are dedicated to Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati, the three Goddesses equally. However, the goddess of learning and knowledge Saraswati remains the most significant in Southern traditions
In Kerala, Poojavaippu marks the celebrations of Durgashtami.
Saraswati Puja or the Ayudha Puja marks Mahanavami. On this day, books, music instruments and other tools are worshipped.
On Vijayadasami, books and tools are removed and ‘Puja Eduppu’ is performed. On this day, a child (between the age of 2-6 years) starts learning (called as ‘Vidhyarambam) and as part of the ritual, children are made to learn writing alphabets on rice or sand.
In Tamil Nadu, Navratri’s first three days are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi while the next three days are dedicated to Durga. The last three days are dedicated to Saraswati. Devotees arrange traditional dolls called Kolu or Golu a at homes, shops and temples. Kolu is a makeshift staircase where the dolls, passing on from many generations, are kept. They depict myriad themes like environment, space, mythology etc.
There are music and dance festivals organised in temples. In Tamil Nadu’s souther part, Pulikali (tiger dance) is performed where artists paint themselves as tigers while donning bright yellow and black and dance to the beats of instruments.
Decorated dolls are placed at homes in Karnataka on Navratri and people exchange coconuts, clothes and sweets among themselves. People enact scenes from the stories in the epics and puranas and visit renowned temples.
Navratri coincides with the ‘Mysore Dasara’ which is a known for its grand celebration.
Temple of Chamundeswari of Chamundi Hill, an avatar of goddess Durga, who killed Mahishasur, is thronged by devotees. The Mysore Palace is lit up with lights and flowers during Dussehra and a “Jamboo Savari”, a famous procession takes place here involving elephant parades, wherein one of them carries goddess Chamundeswari.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
In Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, all nine days of Navratri are dedicated to Maha Gauri, the goddess representing womanhood. Bathukamma Padunga, a fascinating ritual is followed where women make flower stacks with local flowers in these nine days. On the last day, this stack is left a water body to float. Women can be seen dressing up in the traditional sari wearing jewels and other accessories.