India is a country of rich religious and cultural diversity which means that ever so often the streets are alive with the hustle of festivals. Over the ages, the personal meaning and relevance of these festivals has changed. People might mark it as a vacation or a celebratory occasion but as the larger families branched out into nuclear families, festivals became an excuse to get together and as businesses diversified, festivals started to create a homely climate in the otherwise professional environment.
The period of Sharad Navratri is of immense religious importance the nation over. The nine auspicious days worship the nine forms of the deity Ma Durga. The celebration includes fasting for the period of nine days, especially in the North. In Punjab, the girls of the house are worshipped as the goddess herself! To the east, in the state of West Bengal, Durga pooja is organized during the last four days, which is the biggest festival of the year in the state. Whereas to the west, people participate in Ras-Garba , remembering Ma Durga-Ambe. In the south, dolls of the goddess called kolu are made and displayed at peoples’ houses. Women invite each other to view their decorations and to share sweets and gifts. In Karnataka, Mysore Dussehra, celebrated on the ninth day is an important event wherein implements such as day to day appliances are worshipped.
These nine days are followed by Dussehra, the annual burning of idols of king Ravana that symbolize the victory of good over evil. No matter where you live or how you celebrate it, it is one vacation you would wish never to end. Not to worry though, Diwali is just twenty days away. Happy Dussehra.
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