The name navarathri bring many sweet memories to an old student of KHC. Delicious aval and chundal, melodious singing of bhajan, students walking around the college serving various navarathri food to teachers while students watching eagerly, speeches by pandithars and many more. The word navarathri was not much used in Jaffna in the seventies. We all used to call it Saraswathy Poosai. Many people heard of Navrathri when the film "Navarathri acted by Sivaji Ganeshan was released. Sivasothy master was very busy with his sound system to broadcast the singing and speeches during those ten wonderful days. Girls assemble in the Southern wing of the College and boys at the third floor of the Handy Buildings. On special poojas and on Vijaya dasami all assemble at third floor. The discipline teacher with a long cane walked around like a policeman to maintain silence. Every class celebrates their own way. Some arrange wonderful artist like violinist Radakrishnan, famous Nadaswaram players etc. It was wonderful 10days. I can remember different pandithars came each year and say the same story of how Goddess Saraswathy saved Kamban’s son Ambihapathy from punishment by king for singing about princess Amaravathy’s beauty.
இட்ட அடிநோக எடுத்த அடி கொப்பளிக்க
வட்டில் மருங்கசைய கொட்டிக்
கிழங்கோ கிழங்கோஎன்று கூவுவாள்
தந்நாவில் வழங்கோசை வையம் பெறும்
This song was never in my syllabus but I could remember this song because the repetitions by theses pandithars. I think it is correct. Nobody bothered to explain whether the Goddess could help a liar.
Another unforgettable story was that Goddess Abirami spit the juice of betel leaves into the mouth of Kalameham who was asleep. He did swallow it and became the greatest ever poet of siledai - double meaning.
After every Pandithar's speech Mr. M. S. Sinnathamby (famously known as MS) used to give a short speech. Once he was talking about Kaaraikal Ammaiyar and singing Piravamai vendum meendum piranthal unnai maravamai vendum….there are many vendums in his speech. MS gave special verbal stress on DUM. All the students chorused DUM. This is all because he was nick named as Vedi (explosive) Sinnathamby for his explosive nature.
The best ever oratory I heard was from Miss Thangamma Appakuddy in 1969. Those days she was not famous as she was in later years, but mesmerized whole third floor with her wonderful speech. One Federal Party supporter told me she was much better than Amirthalingam.
One teacher of KHC, I vaguely remember his name as Saravanabavan, gave a wonderful explanation for the pictures of Saraswathy and Lakshmi. He said Saraswathy should always sit and Lakshmi should always stand as Saraswathy is of permanent nature and Lakshmi never resides in a single place. So is wisdom is permanent and wealth is not.
All speakers talk always about Saraswathy but rarely of Lakshmi or Durga. The first time, in 1972, Mr. Mahadeva then the principal of KHC said we Tamils should pray for Durga to obtain bravery in order to tackle current problems faced by Tamils and deservedly got best ever applaud.
From the middle part of the seventies tuitions centre organized navarathri in massive scale.
A year is divided into two part namely Utharayana and Dhakshayana of six month perod. The fist six month is equavalent of our 12hours day time and second is the night time for the celestial beings. Utharayana starts with Thai Pongal and in the month Aani. Dhakshayna starts with Adi Pirappu and ends in the month of Maargazhi. In Maargazhi we sing thiruppalli ezhuchi to wake them. In the middle of Utharayana we should, but many us never, celebrate Vasantha Navarathri and in the middle of Dhakshayana Sarata Navarathri. Sarata Navarathri is world famous. Some people say there were four Navarathris.
Navarathri starts after Amavasai in the month of Puratasi and ends at Dasami.
The way of celebrating navarathri differs from place to place. In the northern part of India it is observed with rigorous fast. They relates this to Rama and Sita.
In western India both men and women are participating in special kind of dance around the idols of God. This dance is called Garba. Another dance was Daandiya. It is similar to our Koladdam but more colorful.
In Bengal it is Durga Pooja. They give importance to Durga. No wonder that Nethaji Subas Chanra Bose was from Bengal. On Vijaya dasami Goddess Durga is accompanied by Lakshmi, Saraswathy, Ganesh and Kartikeya taken out in a triumphal procession to the nearby river where they ceremonially immersed.
In Gujarat importance is to Goddess Lakshmi. They call it Dussera. One of my
friend said that was why all the Gujaratis living in U. K are very rich. But
one Gujarati friend told me whatever festival we use them to milk our fathers
In Maharashtra, nine days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Durga while the tenth day or Vijayadashami is dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and learning. On this day, school-going children worship the tantrik symbol of the goddess for her blessing in their studies and it is considered auspicious day to begin education and learn dance and music, buy new homes, performing housewarmings and weddings and start new ventures.
The Hindu minorities of Kashmiri Pandits celebrate Navratri in a subdued manner as all the adult members of the household fast for nine days on water. One important ritual involves a trip to the temple of guardian goddess Kheer Bhawani in the middle of a Sarovar (lake) on all nine days. It is said that deity warns her devotees of a catastrophe by turning the water of the lake black. It is said that water turned black on a day before Indira Gandhi's assassination and before the last war of India and Pakistan. Here, dance and music is shunned as these nine days are supposed to be spent in the contemplation of Goddess here.
In Kerala they decorate a room with holy books, instruments, tools and weapons
in front of a picture or an image of Goddess Saraswathi. On the Vijayadasami
day after a Puja in the morning, the Books and implements are removed from the
room and this ceremony is called `Puja Eduppu'. The time for the break up of
the puja marks the beginning of learning and work. Learning and work commence
at this auspicious moment. Literates in general write the alphabets on sand
and read a few sentences from sacred books. Similarly the craftsmen and other
skilled workers do some work using their implements. At this auspicious moment
the children for the first time are given instructions to write the first few
alphabets on rice or sand. They are thus initiated into the world of knowledge.
In Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, women arrange 'Bommai Kolu', a special placing of dolls in various costumes decorated with flowers and ornaments on specially prepared steps. Nine young 'kanyas' or virgins are offered new clothes and sweets as the goddesses and married women share flowers, kumkum and snacks among themselves. Singing is more important in this part of India. Kumbham and Navathaniam take middle place.
Observe vegetarianism at least these 10 days.
Clean the house, body and soul.
Decorate your house to symbolize the importance of Navarathri with kolam, kolu and kumbham.
Pray first 3 days Durga who symbolizes nature in all its might and is central to the legend of the destruction of demon Mahishasura. Durga also regarded as destroyer of evil. Praying her will result in bravery and destruction of evil.
Pray the second 3 days Lakshmi who symbolizes the benevolent aspect of nature. She also is the symbol of prosperity and well being. She blesses you with good children, continuous supply of food, jewellery, wealth, health and peaceful life.
Pray for Saraswathy in the last 3 days who symbolizes knowledge and wisdom.
Daksha the father of Umadevi performed a Yaga in which he did not honor his son in law Lord Shiva. Umadevi was outraged by this and went to see his father without the permission of Shiva and came back humiliated. Frustrated Umadevi killed herself. As she is the cosmic energy, all the gods, goddesses all living creatures in the universe and all moving objects stood like statues without any movement at all. Kolu is to remind us what would happen without Umadevi the comic energy or Shakthi.
Mahishasura was blessed with Lord Shiva that he cannot be killed a male. When the evil deeds of Mahishsura was at its highest all the Gods prayed Shakthi to kill him since he could only be killed by a female. Shakthi requested all Gods to give her their energy on order to make powerful enough to kill Mahishasura. Gods obliged and stoodd like dolls without any energy. Kolu symbolizes this situation.
Kolu should be displayed in accordance with the Darwin's theory of evolution.
One is the day Shakthi destroyed Mahishasura. Other one is Vidhya Dasami. Vidhya means education. This is the day to start education. Some people do not study at all during Navarathri and place their books in front of Goddess and start study on Vijaya Dasami.
All schools in U. K with Hindu children celebrate Navarathri. Children dress like Krishna, Radha, Rama, Sita and Ravana and stage plays of their own version of Navarathri. In working places Guajarati people celebrate with Garba dance. European and African colleagues join them.
There are lots of Tamil Schools in U. K which conduct classes during weekend
on Tamil language and carnatic music. These Tamil Schools celebrate as we do