Unique 'Navratri' celebration by working women

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Mumbai, Oct 9 (UNI) A group of working women from Chembur, in north-east Mumbai, have kept alive the tradition of observing the elaborate rituals of ''Navratri'' in a Central Railway suburban local, all through the nine days of the festival.

The 24 women from the South Indian community, for whom the ''Navratri'' festival is synonymous with ''Kolu'', performed the ''Haldi-Kumkum'' ritual during their 40-minute journey from Chembur to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and have been doing it religiously for the last three years.

''We recite 'Shlokas' dedicated to Devi Durga or 'Bhajans' and Devotional songs during our journey,'' says Nandita Swaminathan, a member of the group.

The nine-day festival, which ended last night, saw the women performing the ritual in the 0915 hrs local, turn by turn, packing all essential items -- Haldi, beetal leaves and Prasadam, in a plastic cover and distributing it to the women of the group and other regulars on the journey.

The married women were elegantly attired in their traditional ''Kanjeevaram Sarees''. Rohini Subhalakshmi, an employee of the State Bank of India, says, ''This system gives us satisfaction of keeping a culture alive, despite our constraints and work pressure. The fast paced life of a married woman had earlier left us with little time to observe the elaborate rituals.'' Another woman employed with a public sector company, Chandra Narayanaswami, said this unique Navratri Celebration was a custom tailor-made to suit our modern requirements.

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