The Sri Raja Rajeswary Temple in Hulu Kelang was abuzz with activity as devotees thronged the temple to celebrate the first day of the unique Navarathiri festival. Navarathiri, which began on Oct 13 is a nine day celebration dedicated to three Hindu Goddesses, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathy. “Nava means nine and rathiri means night so the celebration is celebrated for nine days with dance, music and prayers,” said a life member of the Divine Life Society, Subramaniam Palaiyah. Subramaniam who was invited to give a talk on the festival said the nine nights are divided into three for each goddess.
Throughout the night the temple priests were busy performing prayers for the devotees who came with offerings for Durga.
The first three nights are dedicated for Durga and it celebrates bravery but Subramaniam says bravery does not necessarily mean valour alone. “We pray to her to ask her for the strength to overcome hurdles and obstacles in our lives. The second three days dedicated to Lakshmi is for wealth and the last set for Saraswathy is set aside for education,” he added. He said many Tamil schools across the country have their own prayers for the students and place books at the altar for blessings as well. Throughout the night the temple priests were busy performing prayers for the devotees who came with offerings for Durga. Subramaniam said not many people were lucky to attend the prayers but it is considered good luck for people to attend Navarathiri on all nine days. However, the celebrations do not end there and continue to Vijayadasmi, the culmination of the nine-day celebrations. All three goddesses become one to vanquish evil and Subramaniam said it is a good time to start businesses as well. Navarathiri is not only about prayers and devotion but it is also a great time for dance and music.
Young but eager, the students exuded confidence during their performance at the Navarathiri festival.
After a special prayers organised by Datuk M.Rajasekaran, devotees were treated to a traditional music performance as well as seven repertoires by the talented Sutra Foundation dancers. Rajasekaran said he has held the special prayers for 17 years and said that dance and music is associated with the ceremony.
The performances were a combination of Bharathanatyam as well as Odissi and Ramli said he wanted to showcase Odissi since it associated with Sutra Present was Sutra Foundation founder Datuk Ramli Ibrahim said the dancers for the night were a combination of two groups, the foundation’s very own students as well as children from an outreach programme. Children as young as seven performed the classical dance forms Bharathanatyam and Odissi for the first time. “We had outreach programmes for children in Kuala Selangor, Ladang Sungai Cho and Kajang and those who could make it are here. I think the outreach programme is a great way of culturally empowering the community,” he added. Ramli said the students’ confidence, positivity and discipline with the help of dance. The performances were a combination of Bharathanatyam as well as Odissi and Ramli said he wanted to showcase Odissi since it associated with Sutra. Sutra Foundation dancers he said would be performing at various temples throughout the Navarathiri festival.