It is the first day of Navratri festival (festival of nine nights) as I write this – a very auspicious day to start my new blog! This is the festival of Goddess Amba, her nine incarnations worshiped on each of the nine days of the festival.
These nine days and nights are some of the most vibrant of the year all over India. The trees are lush post-monsoon and evenings are breezy making it perfect for sparkly garba and dandiya dance functions everywhere.
A part of the festivities is wearing certain designated colours on each of these nine days. It is followed throughout India in some form or another. While some believe that these colours are symbolic and create harmony with the energy of the avtar (incarnation) of the Goddess Amba being celebrated that day, the more prevalent and recent history is that it was started by a regional Marathi newspaper to improve its circulation, and how it has caught the public’s fancy (Should not be a surprise that the said newspaper has some of the top readership numbers now!).
Of course participation is voluntary and a lot of it is just for the fun factor of being part of a huge self-formed group of people who are all celebrating this wonderful festival.
So, whatever the reason –
It is quite impressive – as with all things in Mumbai, along with most of Maharashtra and Gujarat to follow the dress colour code. On the streets during peak hours you see waves of people – strangers, going about their daily life at a frantic pace wearing a shade of the day’s colour at least in some part of their outfit.
Fellow Mumbaikars will know the feeling of belonging to this single huge tribe and for those who have not yet experienced this- it is something that is as momentous as running an organized multi-day marathon with thousands of participants – only, this is not an organized event and there is no special award for doing this!
In the days when I took my regular train to get to college and work, I would look at my co- commuters and often wonder then, as I still do that all these people must have some prayer for Amba Mata in their hearts which makes them mindfully wear her colours and keep her in their thoughts. That to me is what makes this so much more special and unique!
While I was in Mumbai, it was a thing my mother and I did- looking through our available wardrobes to get these coloured clothes ready to wear for the next day. That also meant we had a “legit” excuse to shop for some new stuff if we did not own anything in the colour of the day! 😉
But this is not a girl thing nor a religious thing! Men, women, young and old everybody becomes a part of this Indian culture! If you want to – then you should participate! It is fun!
Some people follow the colour code to manifest their devotion to Ambe Mata while many do it as it is the “thing to do in Mumbai” during Navratri.
My father is mostly oblivious to what colour it is supposed to be, but since childhood it has been my appointed duty to pick out his shirt daily and he would wear whatever I picked! So – while I was there I ensured that he wore the correct colours/shades too!
Today’s colour is YELLOW and my husband picked out a yellow shirt this morning by complete coincidence! There have been times through the years when I have forgotten and worn a random top just like this and it ended up being the right colour! So people like us too make up for a tiny part of the colourful waves!
The latest update on this colourful cultural practice – This year my mother’s workplace even has a small penalty if you do not turn up in the colour for the day! Although I am pretty sure someone must have suggested this to humour the others, it will rake in a nice little kitty by the end of these nine days. I wonder what use they will put it to!
For those of you who are curious to know this year’s Navratri Colour Calendar (2017) –
DATE (2017) DAY COLOUR
21st September, Thursday – Yellow
22nd September, Friday – Green
23rd September, Saturday – Grey
24th September, Sunday – Orange
25th September, Monday – White
26th September, Tuesday – Red
27th September, Wednesday – Royal Blue
28th September, Thursday – Pink
29th September, Friday – Purple