Culture

The colorful Hindu festival Navratri

When the end of the rainy season in India comes, people come out to celebrate it in one of the many festivals that punctuate the Hindu year: the Navrathri.

Although it lives four times a year (Vasanta, Ashadha, Sharada and Magha) it has its culminating moment between September and October over 9 nights and 10 days. A week and a half that attracts millions of people who come to the temples from all over the country, turned into an authentic show of color, music and dance that is an experience to live and contemplate.

Many westerners come to India on these dates thanks to the abundant offer of cheap flights, and the possibility of enjoying an amazing event.

Photo Hardik jadeja in Wikimedia Commons

South of the Indian capital, in Kalkaji (you can get there by bus, taxi or even rickshaw), is one of the temples where the festival reaches its maximum expression: the Kalka Deviin Nehru Square, a white marble and granite building erected by Rajah Kadarnath in the 18th century on a previous thousand-year-old structure (from the times of the Mahabharata), a work achieved thanks to the contributions of the faithful.

It is dedicated to the mother goddess of energy, Durga, one of the 9 incarnations of Shakti and protagonist of the central period of the festivals. Because the aforementioned 9 days are divided into periods of 3, each dedicated to a deviname by which the qualities of nature are known: Tamas (inertia, immobility), Rajas (action, passion) and satwa (balance, purity).

Devi is the unified form of three goddess goddesses: Durga (the energy, represented dressed in red riding on a lion), Lakhsmi (prosperity, gold on an owl) and saraswati (wisdom, in white on a swan). Certainly, Hindu mythology is complicated.

Photo Prime Minister’s Office, Government of India on Wikimedia Commons

Navratri is a time when crops are sown, sweets are prepared and colorful clothes are worn for the first time, in addition to the aforementioned classical and folk dances; then each region adopts its own festivities: Gujarahs and Bengalis, for example, submerge statues of the deity in the Ganges river or, like the Valencian Fallas, burn them with spectacular fireworks.

Farmers, carpenters, blacksmiths, potters, merchants and all kinds of trades decorate their equipment, machinery and work tools. Students visit their teachers, pay them respect, and seek their blessings. This tradition is particularly strong in South India.

Nevil Zaveri photo on Wikimedia Commons

In any case, the characteristic Indian joy is everywhere, although some live it in a more ascetic way, fasting all that time.

The tenth and last day, called vijaya dasami (Durga’s final victory over the buffalo-demon Mahishasura) is the end of the party. Many mark their faces with vermilion (sindooram) or wear bright red clothes. It is an emotional day when songs of farewell are sung, sweets and gifts are distributed, and friends and relatives are visited.

To attend the celebrations, cheap flights to India depart almost daily from Madrid.


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