Category Archives: Festivals

Some answers/South India 101

Leenadll left three comments on earlier posts that seemed better to answer in a post than in the comment section.

What is Navarathri?

Navarathri translates to “nine nights”.

Most people outside India don’t know that the North of the country celebrates religious events very differently from the South.  The Dussera (“Ten days”) is the north Indian equivalent of our Navarathri, and is more popular but celebrated differently.

Navarathri is celebrated in the south as a celebration of the three Goddess or Shakthis – of wealth, valour and learning.  The first three nights are dedicated to the Goddess of wealth – Lakshmi, the next three, to Durga of valour and the final three to Saraswathi, the Goddess of learning.

The fortnight preceding Navrathri is dedicated to dead people. So the ten days of celebrations are meant to cheer people up from the gloomy observance of the previous fortnight.  Some families keep a display of dolls in steps, and invite each other over. So, there is a lot of golu hopping that happens during this time.

Navarathri is predominantly a female celebration – so the men usually stay out of it.

In the North, Dussera is celebrated as the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana.

What is pulli kolam.

Kolam is an entirely south Indian tradition.  It involves drawing decorative patterns at the threshold of homes using rice flour.  The religious significance is that it welcomes the goddess of wealth Lakshmi into the house.

Pulli kolam is a form of kolam where a varying number of dots are placed and they are connected in various patterns.  I am horrible at pulli kolam.  My dear friend Gayathri, however, is brilliant at it, as you can see from her kolams reproduced below with her permission.



Sarees are expensive in US, and cannot be worn by people of big body sizes.

Yes, sarees are expensive in the US.

No.  A saree is a piece of unstitched cloth 5-5.5 meters long – 6 yards of it.  You merely drape it around your body in two layers with pleats and all.  What depend on size are the “in skirt” that goes under the saree, and the blouse, which is worn on top.


Stick a fork in me, I am done.

The golu got done last night, with one doll symbolically laid to rest.  And not a day too soon.  I was exhausted last night – socialization really drains me out.  The kid had a birthday party to attend today, but I refused to let her go because that would mean my driving her there and talking to other parents – oh no, I am done talking for a long long time.

I have at least a couple of posts that need out, one in answer to leenadll’s comments in my earlier posts, and one in response to Brian’s clam bake thingie.  Right now, I just want to sit and stare into empty space and heal my bruised introverted self.

Have a good Sunday folks.