Category Archives: Culture Corner

Navrathri Festival

Navratri, the festival of nine nights is celebrated across India with great fervor. The nine nights celebrate the Mother Goddess in her various forms, culminating on Vijay Dashami. There are many legends surrounding the festivities; the most prevalent one being that Goddess Durga defeated the demon Mahishasura on this day, the triumph (Vijay) of good over evil.

Amongst the Konkani communities too, Navratri is celebrated with great fervor. Through the nine days, families worship the Goddess, praying for strength, wisdom and prosperity for their family.

Navratri marks the beginning of the paddy harvesting season in Karnataka. On the first day of Navratri the Tandla Madki, the rice pot in the house is cleaned and decked with flowers, preparing to receive the new harvest. The Paddy, kaanas, is also tied to front doors, welcoming the Goddess home. The bringing of new rice is symbolic of continued prosperity for the house.

Suvasini pooja and Kumari pooja are performed by many households during Navratri. While one reveres married women as an embodiment of the Goddess, bestowing her with vhonti and haldi-kumkum; the other honours young girls and includes haldi-kumkum and token gifts for them. Generally, school supplies and small toys are included in the Kumari Pooja gifts.

Days 7 and 8 are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati.  Kids and elders in the house place their books and musical instruments in the Pooja room and pray for knowledge, wisdom and success in the coming year. This time is also considered auspicious for Aksharabhyas. Young children are initiated into reading and writing by writing “Om”, “Shree” etc. On a bed of rice.

Day 9 is celebrated as Ayudha Pooja. Ayudha means weapons, but in the modern context has come to imply any tools of your trade. Therefore, everything from laptops and mobile phones to cars and bikes are worshipped on this day. Kids spend the previous evening polishing their bikes and decorating vehicles before the Pooja is a competition in itself!

According to the Mahabharata, the Pandavas hid their weapons in a Shami tree while in incognito for a year. On Navami day they came to retrieve their weapons, and paid obeisance to both weapons and tree before moving forward, hence the celebration of Ayudha pooja on this day.

On Vijay Dashami, the new rice is used in preparing a meal, called Nave Jevan. Shami branches are also exchanged with friends and family on Navami and on Vijay Dashami as a symbol of goodwill with greetings of a Kannada phrase that loosely translates to “May our love and goodwill grow”.

About the author…
Shweta Pai is a Project Manager by day and a new mom. When not mesmerized by her baby boy, she likes to read about food and the stories behind various Konkani traditions.

Choodi Pooja

Choodi Pooja, is observed during Shravan month in Karnataka, and is of great importance to Konkani’s all over. In 2021, Shravan Month in Karnataka begins on August 9 and ends on September 7. Tulsi Plant and Lord Surya are worshipped during Choodi Pooja, which is observed on Fridays and Sundays in Shravana Maasa (month). The main ritual involves exchange of a small bouquet of flowers by married women.

Choodi is derived from the Kannada word ‘Soodi,’ which means a tied bundle. The main ritual involves arrangements of flowers and herbs in a small bundle. Usually a bundle will contain four to five flowers, Darba grass and two or three herbs. A sweet mixture of puffed rice, coconut and jaggery is prepared on the day and offered during puja. Some people prepare Panchakajjaya, a sweet made of five ingredients.

Locally available herbs and flowers are used to prepare the Chudi. Some of the common flowers and herbs used include Ratnagandhi, Shanka Pushpa, Darba Grass, Gauri Pushpa etc. The flowers are arranged with some artistic sense.

First a Tulsi Puja is done. Next is the worship of sun. The freshly prepared Choodi is offered to Tulsi. Next a puja is performed at the entrance of the house and this if followed by a Pooja in the Puja Room. Young women will offer Choodis to elderly women and take blessings. Elderly women will also gift young women with Choodis.

You can also watch the attached video link from our own community members performing Choodi Pooja and explaining the meaning behind why we celebrate choodi pooja.

Reference Links

Adapted from an article written by Abhilash Rajendran  Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Compiled from various sources by Niranjan Kamath

Gokarna Math Swamiji

Shree Samsthan Gokarna Partagali Jeevottam math is one of the three religious orders of the Gowd Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) community (the other two being Shree Kaivalya Math and Shree Kashi Math). HH Srimad Vidhyadiraja Theertha Swamiji  was the 23rd Swamiji at  the Gokarn Math lineage which is said to have been founded in 1475 AD and has a history of 546 years.

Srimad Vidyadhiraja Teertha Swamiji was born on August 3, 1945, at Gangoli, in Udupi district. His birth name was Raghavendra Acharya. He was given Sanyas Deeksha on February 26, 1967, at Shri Ram Mandir Wadala, Mumbai by his guru and predecessor, Shrimad Dwarakanath Teertha Swamiji. He succeeded as the head of the math following the demise of his guru on April 5, 1973, and thereafter tirelessly working for the spiritual upliftment of the followers, the prime duty cast on the maths. Under his leadership, numerous old temples and math branches were renovated and rebuilt. He is also credited with reviving the ancient modes of worship like yagas and yajnas and undertaking pilgrimages to holy places, including the remote part of the Himalayas. He has also headed the numerous charitable and educational endeavours of the math.

In Feb 2017 Swamiji anointed Sri Uday Bhat Sharma as his Shisya and successor, giving him the name Shri Vidhyadheesh Theertha.

Many of us may have had several interactions with our Pujiya Swami ji. I know I did when I was very small I was blessed by Swamiji at the Dwarkanatha Bhavan in Wadala after my Munji. He advised me to worship my parents and never to let them down. I will forever cherish those words.

Now H. H Srimad Vidyadhish Theerth Swamiji  will carry the Guru Shisya Parampara a tradition that dates back to when the Gokarn Math was started.

Given below are some of the precious video links to Swamiji’s pravachan on the History of Gokarn Math in his own blessed voice.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Reference Links

Cover photo credits

Gokarn Math Wikipedia

Compiled from various sources by Niranjan Kamath