Navaratri has begun and will A Journalist Reveals be behind in highlighting the festival? This time we decided to enlighten ourselves and our audience about how the festival is celebrated in different parts of the country. Vishanth Panakkal, who currently works as a Creative Head in the writing department on the cultural documentary section of National Geographic channel, told us about how it is celebrated in his home state Kerala.
What is the significance of Navaratri in Kerala? And how do you celebrate the festival?
Even though, Navaratri is not a major as a celebration in Kerala; the significance and involvement of people in this festival are more on a meditational notion rather than a festive one. From Ashtami, Navami and Vijayadhashmi the prayers are devoted to Goddess Saraswati. Ayudha pooja’ or the ceremonial surrender of implements before the three Goddesses (Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati) is the prime activity during these three days. On Ashtami, books and implements are kept for Pooja and ceremoniously taken back on the third day. Philosophically this practice symbolizes the surrender of our immortality to a higher power and implying the self (soul) as an all knowing existence; all that existed, existing and manifesting is in us.
Vidhyarambam is another important ritual, especially on the third day. On this day, children are guided into their first learning phase prior to the schooling. They are made to write their first Malayalam Alphabetic Line, with their index fingers on sand or rice in a platter by an elderly or a learned person. As the index finger is represented as a finger which denotes direction and leadership.
What are the food items you prepare during this festival?
On Navaratri, the Hindus are meant to keep a fast or be on a vegetarian diet in order to bring a more Sattvic quality into their life and work. A clear mind and a guided concentration demand invocation of Sattva in a human body. For that meat and strong tasting ingredients are excluded while cooking food on these days.