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Navaratri/Dussera

October 8, 2008

The last nine days/nights were celebrated throughout the country as Navaratri in South India, Durga Pooja in West Bengal and as Dussera in North India.

Navaratri and Durga Pooja are celebrated to mark the killing of Mahisasura by Durga,after fighting for 9 days (as is prevalent in most corporates today, Brahma gave Mahisasura a boon making him invincible and had to depend on goddess Durga to clean up the mess. As a child I used to wonder why such boons were granted at all and my grandmother had a logical answer for that too. She said that the power of the prayers/tapas were too strong that even the gods could not resist granting them away- a lesson to be learnt, you can get from others anything they don’t want to give if you just keep at it). The war culminates on the 10th day with the victory of the good over evil.Hence the belief that anything started on this day (Vijayadasami) will be fruitful. For the right person, that is . It was not such a fruitful day for Mahisasura.

Dussera, in North India is celebrated as the home-coming of Rama after defeating Ravana. Ultimately these festivities give us hope that eventually truth and goodness will triumph.

My fondest memories of Navaratri in Madurai are that of schools closed after the quarterly exams and we roaming around the streets from morning to dusk, coming home only for lunch, to re-fuel (it really used to be fast food- a ‘3 course meal ‘of Sambar,rasam and curds would take us only a couple of minutes to gobble down. One, we would be very hungry after all the running around and two, we wouldn’t want to miss even a minute of fun). The evenings were much more fun as we collected ‘Sundal(steamed pulses garnished with coconut scrapings) from the neighbourhood. We also arranged dolls on wooden steps called ‘Kollu(see picture), often working out themes to make the arrangement as innovative and attractive as possible. We even made mountains of clay and used a mini motor to bring out the waterfall effect. Later we used to visit about a dozen temples including Meenakshi amman temple ( Madurai is not called ‘The Temple City’ for nothing.My research says there is a temple for every 17.62 person there) and would be dwarfed by the huge ‘vahanas‘ with brass and silver coating displayed there. Our school books would be bundled and put in the pooja room on the 8th day of the Navaratri ( it didn’t make any difference to us as we never used to open books at home more so during vacation unlike children of today who need 26 hours a day to attend various special coaching classes) to be taken out on the 10th day Vijayadasami.

On Vijayadasami day, after the pooja we were made to read a couple of pages from each subject as though it was enough to make us proficient in all the subjects. I too had the same notion till I flunked in a couple of subjects (we didn’t have many subjects those days and I have absolutely no idea how they proliferated to the present level. A thinking boy that I am as the title of my blog would suggest I used to wonder what subject was taught instead of history in the pre-historic days).
Anyway the vacations were the most enjoyable period in our life spending about 15-16 hours a day outdoors in various physical activities. I feel sad for today’s children glued to the TV or sitting in front of the computer. When I tell my sons about this, they look at me incredulously as if I have confirmed their worst fears…… that their father has gone off the rockers.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Smitha permalink
    October 10, 2008 23:21

    Very nostalgic. brought out some sweet memories

  2. Salil permalink
    October 15, 2008 20:24

    Hi PRG,Belated Navaratri/Dussera wishes to you!You can get from others anything they don’t want to give if you just keep at it. Guess that is what marketing is all about!Cheers,

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