Navaratri started yesterday. This 9 days festival (meaning of Nava Ratri) takes place during every season change and is celebrated everywhere in India to worship Shakti, The Women Goddess and her 9 various forms. We worship Durga, who fasts for 9 days, before killing Mahish Asura, the Demon symbolizing Bad and Evil.
The first 3 days are dedicated to Durga who destroys everything which is not pure.
The 3 following days are the ones of Goddess Lakshmi who brings spiritual Wealth and the last 3 ones are honoring Saraswati, Wisdom Goddess.
During the festival, in South India, many families, women and children prepare a GOLU (assembly) : exhibition of clay figurines.
Then women visit each other to have a look to the respective golu and sing mantras (devotional songs).
We offer to the visitors a part of the food prepared for the Goddess : prasad (chickpeas or peas cooked and slightly spiced called sundal, a dessert based of sweet semolina...), kumkum (red powder to put on the front head), a little packet with betel leaves and pan.
On the evening, we light a candle and prepare Pooja (religious ritual), then, we offer food to the Goddess.
Golu is an assembly made of stairs (1, 3, 5, 7, 9 or 11 stairs) with:
On the bottom, the first stairs represent daily Life, various jobs...
The next stairs are a tribute to Saints, Gurus and represent Indian mythology.
Last ones are for specific Deities.
Figurines are made of Clay to remind us that, like those characters, human beings is made from Earth and will go back to Earth.