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KERALA TOURISM NEWSLETTER

ISSUE: 216

AUGUST 2011

Navaratri Festival

Navaratri, which literally means nine nights, falls in the months of September / October, every year. These nine days are marked by the worship of the nine forms of Goddess Shakthi/Devi. The festival is celebrated in different ways in various parts of India. In Kerala the final three days of Navaratri - Ashtami, Navami, and Vijayadashami-are set apart for the worship of Goddess Saraswati - the goddess of wisdom and learning.

Books are placed in the pooja rooms (worship rooms) of houses and temples for worship on the Ashtami day. On Vijayadashami day, the books are taken out ceremoniously for reading after the worship of Goddess Saraswati. In Kerala, this day is also considered auspicious for initiating the children into the world of letters which is called Vidyarambham. Thousands of children move their little fingers in rice or sand spread on a platter to write their first letters guided by an elder. Ayudha Pooja (Worship of Implements) is also practiced in Kerala. On the Navami day the implements are worshipped along with the images of goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati.

Navaratri, was one of the most famous annual festivals celebrated in the Travancore Maharaja's palace at Padmanabhapuram. From 1015 (Malayalam era) onwards the festival was being celebrated in the palace at Thiruvananthapuram alone. The festival begins with the procession of the idols of Goddess Saraswati from the Padmanabhapuram palace, Velayudha Perumal from Veli Malai Kumarakovil and Munnuttinanka from Suchindrum. While the idol of Saraswati would be carried on a caparisoned tusker, the idols of Velayudha Perumal and Munnuttinanka are carried on a decorated 'silver horse' and palanquin respectively.

In the afternoon, prior to the festival, the procession would reach Karamana, a suburb of Thiruvananthapuram from where it would achieve a greater grandeur. The procession enters the fort through the east gate. The head of the Travancore royal family will offer worship to the idol. The idol of Saraswati would be alighted and taken inside the Kuthiramalika palace, Velayudha Perumal to the Aryasala temple and Munnuttinanka to the Chenthitta temple.

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