It is a 9-day festival celebrating Goddess Durga, Lakshmi & Saraswathi. The traditions & the way it is celebrated varies across the country. North Indians fast during the 9-days & women eat a special Upsvas diet without including certain veggies & grains. In TamilNadu (one of the 4 states of South India) though we don’t have the tradition of fasting, in each & every household we setup a “Bommai Kolu” (using dolls made out of clay which are collected through years), invite people to their homes, serve them yummy prasadhams, do some bhajans or chant shlokas together etc etc I still remember my childhood where I would dress up in pattu pavadai, carry a kumkumam chimizh and invite our neighbours to visit our Kolu. As soon as I come back from school will get ready & along with amma will start visit ing our neighbours’ Kolu as well.
I have seen people with lot of enthusiasm take much efforts to decorate their houses, to build fancy parks with plastic animals & grass, arrange clay dolls in various themes, setting up lights and being a child all these little things will bring so much joy to us. Even after all these years the memories stay fresh in our minds.
As every other festival in India, Prasadham or Nevedhyam (offering to God) is really important. It also teaches us the joy of giving, sharing food with others. All these 9 days my mom usually makes two prasadhams every day. One she makes it in morning & offers to God after she completes her daily pooja, the other she makes it evening mainly to distribute to the visitors. Sundal is prepared mostly during the evenings and along with that she gives bangles, containers, gifts to kids, mehendi cone, hand bags etc.