What does Kushmanda symbolize about Navaratri
I've arrived here in India and I'm already experiencing the full festival splendor, one festival follows another, many people are partying and dancing.
Navratri is a nine day long Hindu festival which is celebrated differently in all regions of India. Translated "Nava" means nine and "ratri" means night in Sanskrit. It pays homage to the goddess Durga and her nine incarnations: Siddhidatri, Kushmanda, Brahmacharini, Shailputri, Mahagauri, Chandraghanta, Skandamata, Katyayani and Kalaratri. That year the first day was September 21st and the Navratri color of the day was yellow. Because every day a different color is worn which is mainly reflected in the sarees of women. The following colors were green, gray, organs, white, red, royal blue, pink, and purple. Unfortunately I only noticed the changed colors on the day when I noticed that several people were wearing pink. But I probably wouldn't have been able to take part anyway, because I only have a very limited selection of clothes here. Definitely a reason to get more of these beautiful colors of India in my wardrobe!
On the last day of school at this festival, all the children were beautifully dressed and we all danced together in the school yard. On Friday evening, when the Navratri color of the day was purple, Bindu and Apeksha took me to a place of prayer where the goddess Durga was the great starter and her nine incarnations were symbolized as fire places. There was also free food, which is why a large crowd of people gathered in front of it. We went to the starter and had a man paint a bindi on our foreheads and accepted sweets. Then we walked three rounds around the nine fire pits and prayed. Many Indians sped past me, I first had to sort through my head about what and what I actually wanted to pray about. The sweets were meanwhile always in hand and we only ate them when we left the property.
Then on Saturday there was a party at the school, organized by the parents for the parents. There I learned a little the traditional dance Dandiya Raas.
The children, the teachers, all dancing in the schoolyard!
The place of prayer. And we run in a square.
The children at the traditional stick dance Dandiya Raas:
Diwali is one of the largest and most important festivals in Hinduism. It is also called the Festival of Lights and the families celebrate it here by giving each other presents, preparing good food, praying, singing and, most importantly, decorating the whole house with mandalas and fairy lights. This year Diwali was on October 19th and on the occasion of that there was a two week Diwali holiday for my school. We celebrated the festival accordingly and held a performance on the first Saturday of vacation at the school. Already on Friday all children were festively dressed and our rooms were decorated with lanterns, flowers and mandalas at the doorways. On Saturday, everyone from the 2nd to the 7th grade showed something from the class on the stage, which made me think strongly of the monthly celebrations of my past school days. But there was one crucial difference and that was the clothes! All the children were dressed in shimmering colors and all teachers agreed to wear saree. They were all so breathtakingly beautiful!
The first class took part in a very special ceremony after the performances by the older ones and a short meal break. The spiral of light, which was designed to be large and accessible on the floor with flowers and lights. I was able to witness this ceremony myself in my Waldorf career. In the Christian regions, this spiral is celebrated to celebrate the beginning of Advent with the children. In the middle there is a large candle and every child can go into the spiral and light their own small candle and leave the spiral with this newly won light. Here in India we had little oil lamps which are also called diya and while all 25 children went into the spiral and out again the parents and teachers sang a song together. I got goosebumps several times because this moment looked so fascinatingly beautiful!
If you want to read a little more about the spiral of lights afterwards, I recommend this website: http://www.erziehungskunst.de/artikel/fruehe-kindheit/die-lichtspirale-ueber-das-adventgaertlein/
Of course we all took a group photo together. :)
Diwali was on October 19th and I was able to experience it with my first host family. Everyone had dressed in nice clothes, tidied up the apartment and put diyas in each room by the window. Naomi and I made a small mandala out of flowers on the ground, which is usually often made with fine sand or powder. First we all sat together comfortably and then a small ceremony began. We sat on the floor, all around a small table that was decorated with flowers. A slide was burning on the table and sweets were placed around it. Apeksha had a small prayer book and she sang the prayers in Sanskrit. Everyone clapped to the rhythm and Jagan rang a small bell. Since the door to the apartment was open during this time, friends and neighbors also came and sat down. When the prayer ended, we held a moment of silence and then ate the candy. With Naomi, Jagan, Madhav and two friends of Naomi we then went to a Hindu temple to pray. We bring some money with candles and a hat for everyone. In front of the temple we took off our shoes, put on the headscarf and went into the hall. The women stood on the left and the men on the right. A man said a prayer in front and at certain passages everyone got on their knees and touched the ground with their foreheads. The moment in the temple passed very quickly and since I was also excited I couldn't think of any real thoughts for a prayer. As we left the temple, we lit our candles outside and set them with the many others. Back home there was wonderful, delicious food. Outside, both day and night, fireworks were constantly being set off and different chains of lights flashed in various colors on each window.
This festival was really a sparkling experience and I am very grateful that I was able to experience it with an Indian family.
A beautiful pattern of fine sand was scattered in front of each classroom door:
Me in my saree:
The golden spiral:
Do you see all the colors? Beautiful!
The little table and the prayer book:
(Source: wanderlust india)
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