Navratri Festival in Kerala
Navarathri- a Honour to Goddess Saraswathi
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. Navarathri is celebrated in the month of "Kanni" in Malayalam calendar (Month of September).The festival is celebrated in different ways in various parts of India. In Kerala, the final three days of Navaratri - Durga Ashtami, Mahanavami, and Vijayadashami-are set apart for the worship of Goddess Saraswati - the goddess of wisdom and learning.
Navarathri is one of the greatest Hindu festivals. It symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Navarathri takes place at the beginning of October around harvest 777time. During this period, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped as three different manifestations of Shakti, or cosmic energy. Navaratri is divided into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the supreme goddess. On the first three days, the Mother is invoked as powerful force called Durga in order to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects. The next three days, the Mother is adored as a given of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees the inexhaustible wealth.
The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the mother as the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order have all-round success in life, we need the blessings of all three aspects of the divine mother; hence, the worship for nine nights. The last three days of the Navaratri are called Durgashtami, Mahanavami and Vijayadasami, and they are considered more sacred than the other days for Devi worship.
People of Kerala celebrate Navaratri in a befitting manner. The Saraswati puja and Ayudha Puja are performed. On the Durgashtami day a ceremony called Poojavaipu is performed in the evening .Just before the Poojavaipu,all studies and work which mainly require skill, are suspended.
Then a Puja is performed to Saraswati during which fruits, beaten rice, roasted paddy (malar), jaggery etc, are offered to Her. The following day is known as Mahanavami and it is totally devoted to the worship of Saraswati Pooja is performed both in the morning and in the evening.
On the Vijayadasami day after a Puja in the morning, the Books and implements are removed from the room and this ceremony is called `Puja Eduppu'.
The time for the break-up of the puja marks the beginning of learning and work. On the last day of Navarathri another special event will be held mostly in the temple premises, which is known as Vidyarambham (Vidya means "knowledge" , arambham means "beginning'). At this auspicious moment the children for the first time are given instructions to write the first few alphabets on rice or sand. They are thus initiated into the world of knowledge. According to custom only after this ceremony child becomes entitled to write or read. On the tongue of the child below 5 years write the letters "Hari Sri Ganapathaye Namah" with a piece of gold. This is done by either the teachers or senior persons in family .
There are certain communities which celebrate the festival on all days of Navaratri with images of Gods, animals and toys of different variety are arranged for exhibition and this performance is called `Koluvaipu'.