Dasara or Dashain or Dussehra Navaratri is known as Devi Navaratrulu / Sharad Navaratrulu by the people of Andhra Pradesh. The nine days (actually the nights) of the Dussehra festival are celebrated in grand style at Ammavaru temples across the state, especially the Vijayawada Kanakadurga Temple.
The Kanaka Durgamma temple is located on a small hill called Indrakeeladri, which is in the old town. The Peepal Tree in and around City 1 Police Station is believed to be the home of Durgamma’s parents. A day before the Dussehra celebrations at the temple, the area around the peepal tree at town Police Station 1 is beautifully decorated. The police officers carry the Durgamma idol which is under the peepal tree to the Kanaka Durgamma temple. Then the town police officers offer turmeric powder, kumkuma, silk saree and other items to Vijayawada Kanaka Durgamma.
Devi Navaratri Utsavalu begins after Durgamma covers herself in the saree given to her by her parents’ house i.e. the police officials. It has become customary for a long. Police officers actively participate in Devi Navaratri celebrations. According to legends, during the reign of the Kondaveeti Reddy Kings, Durgamma appeared in the dream of a soldier named Mangayya and ordered him to dig her up. As instructed by Ammavaru, Durgamma’s idol was dug up and placed under the peepal tree. Since then, it has become customary for police officers to actively participate in Devi Navaratri Utsavalu.
During this 9 days festival, Durgamma is dressed in different forms known as ‘Alankaram’ and is worshiped by different names. Sharad Navaratri Utsavalu begins with the Kalasha Sthapana Pooja.
Goddess Kanaka Durga 9 Days Alankarams:
Swarna Kavacha Alankruta Durga Devi (Golden Armor) on Aswayuja Suddha Padyami:
On the 1st day of Devi Navaratrulu celebrations, Durga Devi is fully clothed in golden armor i.e. Swarna Kavacha. In this Alankara, 8-armed Durga Devi (Ashta Bhuja) appears as Simha Vahini i.e. sitting on a lion, the goddess has Shankham (conch), Chakram (disc), Gada (mace), Soolam (trident), paasam (rope), Maha Khadgam (Sword) and Parasu (axe) in her arms.
Naivedyam: Pulihora/tamarind rice is offered.
Bala Tripura Sundari Devi Alankaram on Aswayuja Suddha Vidiya:
On the 2nd day, Kanaka Durgamma is dressed in a light pink saree in Bala Tripura Sundari Devi Alankaram. It is believed that one will be blessed with children by worshiping her.
Naivedyam: Payasam, i.e. kheer, is offered.
Gayatri Devi Alankaram on Aswayuja Suddha Tadiya:
On the 3rd day, Ammavaru is dressed in an orange sari and appears in Vedamata Gayatri Devi Alankaram with 5 faces.
Sri Lalitha Tripura Sundari Devi Alankaram on Aswayuja Suddha Chaviti (Chaturthi):
On the 4th day, Sri Lalita Tripura Sundari Devi resides in Manidweepam and is Sri Vidya Roopini. Durgamma is dressed in a Pure golden color sari in Lalita Tripura Sundari Devi Alankaram. Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswati are on either side of Lalita Tripura Sundari Devi.
Naivedyam: Payasam is offered.
Sri Annapoorna Devi Alankaram on Aswayuja Suddha Sashti:
On the 5th day, Durgamma is dressed as Annapoorna Devi. In one hand She holds a bowl and in the other a ladle to serve food. Perugannam i.e curd rice and Katte Pongali are offered as Naivedyam on this day to Durgamma in Annapoorna Devi Alankaram. The goddess is dressed in a sandalwood color sari on this day.
Naivedyam: Katte Pongal is offered.
Sri Mahalakshmi Devi Alankaram on Aswayuja Suddha Saptami:
With the lotus in both Her hands, Durga Devi is in Mahalakshmi Alankaram on the 6th day of Devi Navaratrulu. She is the goddess of wealth and prosperity and is worshiped the most by the devotees. Mahalakshmi is the unified form of Ashta Lakshmi. On this day Ammavaru is dressed in a pure pink sari.
Sri Saraswati Devi Alankaram on Aswayuja Suddha Saptami:
On the 5th day i.e on Suddha Panchami day when it is Moola Nakshatram (star), Durgamma is dressed in a pure white sari in the form of Maha Saraswati – the goddess of knowledge and learning. She is seated on Her vehicle swan with Madalasa (the stringed musical instrument Veena) in Her hand.
Sri Durga Devi Alankaram on Aswayuja Suddha Ashtami:
Vijayawada Kanaka Durgamma is a beautifully dressed red sari in Durga Devi Alankaram on Durgashtami day i.e the 8th day during Dussehra. According to legends, in this form, Durga Devi killed an asura named Durgama.
Sri Mahishasura Mardini Devi Alankaram on Aswayuja Suddha Navami:
On Maharnavami day, Durgamma is dressed in brown/red handloom sari as Mahishasura Mardini. It is with this form that Goddess Durga beheaded the ferocious buffalo-headed demon named Mahishasura. This is a ‘Simha Vahini’ Alankaram with a trident held in both hands and other weapons in other arms. The day on which Mahishasura was killed by Durga Devi, is celebrated as Maharnavami.
Sri Raja Rajeswari Devi Alankaram on Aswayuja Suddha Dasami:
Sri Raja Rajeswari Devi is the last Alankaram of Kanaka Durgamma during the Sharad Navaratrulu festival. The goddess is dressed in a green sari on Dashami day