In the marathi houses, where tradition and culture are deeply woven into the fabric of daily life, the celebration of Navratri kicks off with a unique and meaningful ritual – the sowing of seeds on Ghatasthapana, the very first day of this nine-night festival. This cherished custom is a sight to behold, and its significance is as intriguing as it is beautiful.
The Commencement, Culmination and Connection-
As the sun rises on the day of Ghatasthapana, our house in Malvan embark on a beautiful journey. We fill a small pot with soil and sow seeds like Mustard, Ragi, halim/Aliv and grains like Jowar, Wheat and Rice, nurturing them with care, and allowing them to grow and flourish over the next nine days.
On the tenth day, the auspicious occasion of Dassera arrives, and with it, a heartwarming tradition of harvesting these microgreens. This humble harvest is then offered to the divine in a gesture of reverence.
One of the most touching aspects of this tradition is the exchange of these microgreens with neighbors. It's a practice that fosters a sense of community, unity, and goodwill, as people share the blessings of their harvest with those around them. It's a testament to the spirit of togetherness that Navratri embodies.
Another enchanting facet of this tradition involves some women adorning their hair buns with these lush, green sprigs for a day. It's a visual representation of the harmony between nature and beauty, and it adds an extra layer of charm to the festivities.
After the sacred harvest and joyful exchanges, the remaining greens find a new purpose. They are either placed in the field near the well or offered to the cows. This act signifies a return of nature's blessings to the earth and its creatures.
Seeking the Roots of Tradition
Curiosity often leads us to question the origins and symbolism of such age-old practices. My Mavshi, when approached with this very question, shared a few intriguing insights. The first and perhaps most obvious symbolism is that of growth and prosperity. The act of sowing seeds is a profound representation of the desire for abundance and well-being. However, she went on to share two particularly captivating stories that have been passed down through generations.
A Test for the Future
In a region where agriculture is a way of life, Navratri falls during the harvest season. Farmers possess fresh grains, which serve as the seeds for the following year's crops. Sowing these seeds during Navratri may be seen as a kind of test. It's a way for the farmer to check the germination quality of the produce and, in a way, to predict next year's outcome based on the quality of the grain. It's a simple yet profound way of looking to the future.
The Guiding Greens
The other story she shared was equally fascinating. Vijayadashmi symbolizes victory, and in times when there were no paved roads or GPS, people had to rely on their own ingenuity to find their way. When embarking on long journeys or even going to war, they would sow seeds along the path they intended to return by. These seeds would grow into grasses during the ten days of Navratri, and upon their return, the flourishing greenery would serve as a natural guide, leading them back home. This story beautifully symbolizes the victorious return from life's journeys.
Whether these stories are steeped in historical truth or are mythical, they add a layer of intrigue to the already profound and beautiful tradition of Navratri sowing.
In the Kokan region, as Navratri unfolds, the sowing of seeds takes on a deeper significance. It's a practice that connects the past and the present, nature and humanity, and hope for a bountiful future. As we partake in this tradition, let us cherish the symbolism and stories that enrich the tapestry of our lives, just as the green sprigs enrich the pots during these nine auspicious days.
May the tradition continue to thrive, and may each seed sown during Navratri bring with it the promise of growth, prosperity, and the guidance we seek in our journeys.