Digital publication

NCIC Issue 2 Divali follows soon after the nineday devotional period of Navratri in the Hindu calendar. It is a busy period for pandit-s and devotees who are all focused on domestic puja-s and community yajna-s. During Navratri time, many Hindus traditionally worship the feminine aspect of Brahman through the devi-s or goddesses. In Trinidad, the tradition has been to worship Lakshmi, Saraswatti and Durga for three (3) days each in the Navratri period. Katha-s (sacred stories recounting creation, deeds of devi-s and devata-s, etc.) are told after these Puja-s; a popular one is how Durga Devi defeated the asura, Mahish, on the tenth day. Parameshwari Devi is also worshipped by a few in this period. Kali worship was also very popular long ago during Navratri, when women singing with their drums, would go from home to home getting donations for a grand community yajna involving a goat. The goat would be let loose to roam the village after the yajna. This community worship was done for the welfare of the members of the community. Some people sacrificed the goat and served it as a sacrificial meal. Since the early 1980’s, worship in the Navratri period has taken another shape as people began worshipping Devi in her nine traditional forms, in a high profile way. This was influenced by movies, books, and new knowledge from India. While the old traditions still continued, new layers of culture began appearing. November 2012 During Navratri, the worship of Ram through Ram Lila was always a strong tradition. Ram Lila was held for the nine days of Navratri and ended with the defeat of Ravan on the tenth day, just as Durga defeated the asura, Mahish on the tenth day. Ram worship took precedence over Devi worship in Trinidad because this was the dominant culture of the places from where the majority of Indians trace their ancestry in North India; also because the Ramcharitmanas was a popular text that all knew during indentureship and in post-indentureship times. Ram Lila is considered a yajna by devotees in Trinidad. In a yajna, a community or individual or family hosts the reading from a chosen sacred text, which includes rites and rituals. In traditional Ram Lila, it is the holy Ramcharitmanas that is recited and performed by a community, in a traditional open-air setting. Nowadays, shortened versions of the Ram Lila, which are more appropriately described as dramatisations of the Ramcharitmanas, are performed on stages in mandir-s and schools. By Pandita Indrani Rampersad, PhD. Continued on Page 3