Navratri, which invokes Durga (goddess of power), Lakshmi (goddess of wealth), and Saraswati (goddess of wisdom) is celebrated across India with grand festivity.
Devotees from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh celebrate the nine days with a figurine display festival named Bommai Kolu/ Bomma Golu. The display of dolls will comprise small sculptures of gods and goddesses along with other figurines related to daily life. The display will be arranged on decorated racks of odd-numbered shelves. On the tenth day of the festival, the Bommi Kolu arrangement will be dismantled after thanksgiving prayers.
The ninth day of Navratri is celebrated as Saraswati Puja or Ayudha Puja. This is popular mostly in South Indian states such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Saraswati, the divine source of wisdom and enlightenment, is worshipped on this day. Since Saraswati is the goddess of education, arts and crafts, students worship the deity with utmost devotion. On the preceding evening (Durgashtami evening) all tools for earning livelihood and learning gears will be placed on an altar as a dedication to the divine power. It includes books, educational tools, musical instruments, laptops and other work-related equipment. People will refrain from work and studies, and will spend time in meditation and divine contemplation.
Vijayadashami/Dussehra – The Climax
The tenth day is the culmination of the festival which is celebrated as Vijayadashami or Dussehra. The day glorifies the triumph of virtue over evil. Dussehra celebration in North India is distinct with the custom of burning the effigies of demon king Ravana, his son Meghnath and brother Kumbhakarana. This symbolises the victory of good over evil. Celebrations also include performances of short form of epic Ramayanas on public podiums.
Hindus across India believe the day as auspicious to start a new venture, project or journey. The day commemorates the defeat of Ravana by lord Rama. The East Indian state of West Bengal celebrates Dussehra with pomp and splendour by immersing the idol of Ma Durga in the nearby river or lake majestically.
On this day, all equipment and tools that were kept for puja will be taken back for re-use. This is also the day of ‘Vidyarambham’ (beginning of knowledge). On this day children are formally introduced to the world of knowledge. This also includes introduction to the learning of music, dance, languages and other folk arts. This is the auspicious day on which blessings of Saraswati are invoked and kids are initiated to the characters of the syllabary. People from Kerala celebrate Navaratri predominantly for the last three days by observing Ayudha Puja.
Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated twenty days after Vijayadashami.