Nine Nights, Ten Days: Happy Navratri and Dasera

Vegan Mofo Day 4:   This time of year is seems super scheduled with religious holidays  corresponding with a massive suspension of Alternate Side parking in New York.  This week alone was Rosh Hashana, Eid, and the beginning of the Indian holiday of Navratri (nine days) and Dasera (ten days).

The holiday plays homage to the women goddesses–three days to Durga, three to Lakshmi and three to Saraswati.

We went to visit my cousin Hema today in Queens, where she and my Aunt created a Navratri Golu–a collection of dolls assembled on tiered steps.

Navratri Golu

Navratri Golu

During this festival,  visitors come to other people’s home to see the Golu and receive offerings of food and snacks.

In addition to dolls on the steps, there is usually a forest scene.  In India, my mom told me that they would start sprouting millet and create a mini play field that would represent a forest area.  In Queens, my cousin’s kids created a mini jungle room.

We brought an offering for the forest:

Mookie didn’t fit:

We enjoyed a lovely meal consisting of lemon rice, Rasam,  Vada, beans curry, and vegan payasum and more.

One of the things that was most lovely was hearing about how my cousin’s husband’s family celebrates Navratri back home in Bangalore–THEY FEED 700 PEOPLE EVERYDAY.

To them this holiday is all about feeding the poor.  Everyone in the family has delegated tasks. The schoolboys off from school wake up in the wee hours in the morning to buy vegetables from the market, while others are focused on arranging the golu and preparing for the puja.  The kitchen is divided into a veggie chopping station, a cooking station and a cleaning banana leaves station.  Fifty kg of rice are cooked every day.   And the rice and veggie combo will be served to 700 people  (400 during lunch and 300 during dinner) on banana leaves.

It seems like an amazing thing to witness and participate in and hope that one year I can join them.

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~ by sangamithra on October 4, 2008.

2 Responses to “Nine Nights, Ten Days: Happy Navratri and Dasera”

  1. That sounds so beautiful – and your family feeding 700 people per day is just inspirational!! It sounds like it has so much more meaning than any of the holidays that we celebrate in my family. 🙂

  2. Thank you. I too am trying to imagine all that goes into feeding 700 people a day. It is so inspiring.

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