Navaratri (2016) in the Seychelles

Being of Indian origin, it is only right that I include some posts about our festivals and community celebrations. So shall start with Navratri which started off last week, and I only went to the temple last night ( in all the whole nine days of celebrations).

Navaratri is a festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Durga. The word “Navaratri” means “nine nights” in Sanskrit. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shaktis are worshipped during the Navaratris. The Devis worshipped depend on the tradition of the region.

This festival is one of the most important ones in the Hindu calendar and culminates in Dusshera, which leads on to Diwali, the Festival of Lights. It is a time of prayers, dance and music and is celebrated lavishly all over India and by the Hindus living abroad. The diya or light is lit for nine nights and it is a time of rituals.

The legends of Navratri are Maa Durga (Goddess Durga) and Lord Ram. Goddess Durga got the victory on demon Mahishasura after nine days fight and by killing him on the tenth day. This festival signifies the triumph of good over evil. This tenth day of the victory is known as Vijaya Dasami (Dussehra).

So let’s have a look at this massive celebration in the Seychelles. Earlier in the Seychelles, during the festivals, if you went to the only temple here, you could be almost 100 percent sure of running into the entire Indian community. It is a venue for many to meet up after a long time, especially families spread out all over the islands. Not so much anymore.

The community has grown, as have the venues for the celebration. Nowadays there are clusters of communities/ friends, what you may call it, and they celebrate Navaratri according to their ways, one can see it in the big divide of North Indians and the South Indians.

The “North Indians”- in quotes, since not all North Indians, celebrated Navratri at the ex- SMB Hall at Roche Caiman, where they had Garba and the sale of Indian foods and sweets, whereas, the South Indians celebrated through prayers and offerings at the temple. Some pujas were conducted twice a day on some days.

So the Navratri dates and information are as follows; it is important that these dates are for 2016.

Navratri Day 1 – October 1, 2016 (Saturday)

Day 2 – October 2, 2016 (Sunday)

Day 3 (Dwitiya) – October 3, 2016 (Monday)

Day 4 (Tritiya) – October 4, 2016 (Tuesday)

Day 5 (Chaturthi) – October 5, 2016 (Wednesday)

Day 6 (Panchami) – October 6, 2016 (Thursday)

Day 7 (Shashthi) – October 7, 2016 (Friday)

Day 8 (Saptami) – October 8, 2016 (Saturday)

Day 9 (Mahashtmi) – October 9, 2016 (Sunday)

Day 10 (Navami) – October 10, 2016 (Monday)

Day 11 (Dashami or Dussehra) – October 11, 2016 (Tuesday)

So last night was the Maha Navami, and I happen to go to the temple they had set up a wooden step pandal and placed idols on them and also there was an adorned statue of Goddess Saraswathi in a corner. I was sitting with Mom and her group of friends, did not know people my age. Earlier I knew at least 90 percent of the community – now no more than 40 percent, this mostly arises from the fact I do not attend most of the festivities. I choose to go to selected festivals.

Today they had the Saraswati Puja; a special puja offered to Goddess Saraswati (the divine source of wisdom and enlightenment). Usually books and musical instruments are placed in the puja and worshipped as a source of knowledge. It was a very long and tiring puja. I reached the temple at 7 pm and I left at around 10.30 pm. Had to sit down (crossed-leg) for most of it.

As has been the case for a number of years, the temple gives out saris for all devotees, so there was quite a crowd. This year they even gave the younger girls salwar material and bangles, and toys for the little ones. What a crowd and jostling.  It was times like this that reminds me why I hated being in crowded places. Glad to say after the sari distribution, people made a rush to the prasadham place, where they had put out take away boxes for people to help themselves to. I could no longer take the crowd and decided to sit it out, whilst Mom went to collect her puja basket which she had kept inside.

Then it was time to go home. Did not take any photos of the pujas, next year maybe.

Till next time 😛

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Author: The Island Girl

My mission is to bring you helpful content that will inspire you to explore the untouched/ non-touristy Seychelles, and enjoy your holidays to the fullest in these beautiful islands I call home!

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