Dasara is a children's festival, not just because it brings school vacations but also Saraswati puja, an important occasion for the students. This is typically celebrated on the sixth or seventh day of Navaratri, when mula nakshatra is prominent, the star under which the goddess of knowledge is supposed to have taken birth. While some households worship idols of Goddess Saraswati, others prefer to see her in the form of books or musical instruments.
"We have consecrated an idol of Saraswati this year, which we worship on all the nine days," says Chandrashekhar K S, from Uttarhalli. "And, of course, we also keep books."
Adds Indrani Murthy, "My husband is a retired bank manager. While he was working, we moved around a lot. Although I couldn't carry my doll collection with me, I never missed Saraswati puja as I always had books with me."
For R Sundar, a deputy manager at BHEL, this has been a family tradition. "For more than 40 years, I have been part of this celebration. This was one day when our parents would ask us not to study. How great is that," he laughs. He further says that the day marks a new beginning for learning. "We are not supposed to even touch books on that day in a gesture of humility, thinking, 'It's a new beginning; we know nothing and have a lot to learn'."
On the following day, one picks up a book and reads out aloud or if there's a musical instrument, plays it.
"I had kept Abdul Kalam's 'Wings of Fire' on the altar," says Shreya Iyer, an architect. "It had been lying in my wardrobe for ages, collecting dust. But I was captivated by it and later finished reading the book."
Being a musician, she adds, "Only when I pick up my harmonium or guitar do I realise how many days have gone by without playing them," she shares.