Navratri, the Festival of Nine Nights, is celebrated in honour of the Supreme power Shakti. The festival is celebrated for nine nights twice in a year. The first Navratri falls in the month of March-April and are known as Chaitra Navratri. The other are celebrated in the month of October-November and are called Ashwin Navratri. During these nine days, we conduct Puja in the praise of the deity. Here is the method for performing Navratri Puja.
Rituals for performing Navratri Puja
Navratri puja is very simple and not very complicated. One can easily observe the fast; even if one cannot observe the fast he can simply recite mantra “Om Ang Haring Kalim Shree Maha Durgay Namah”. One must carefully work upon his/her aahar (food), vyavhaar (behaviour) and acharan (character) during these sacred days.
Aahar – One should always avoid non vegetarian foods and consuming “Satvik” food like fruits, Kutu Ka Aata, Singara Ka Aata, Curd and Potatoes is considered to be auspicious. Usage of Onion and Garlic should be avoided.
Vyavhaar and Acharan - During Navratri festival all devotees should worship Maa Durga with spiritual emotion.
Get your house cleaned and ready. You are inviting Goddess into the home. Usually this is done on the Amavasya, a day before the beginning of Navratri.
On the first day of the Navaratri, a small bed of mud (taken from any auspicious place) is prepared in the puja room of the house and barley seeds are sown over it. On this Bed a Kalash made of Earthen/ Copper is kept and filled with water. Above the pot a bowl filled with rice is kept. A dry Coconut wrapped with mango leaves is then kept over this Kalash. This Kalash is believed to be a symbolic form of Goddess Durga. By keeping Kone invocate the goddess in the Kalash.
On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 – 5 inches in length. After the puja, these seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from god. This Kalash must not be touched during the nine days. One diya is lit close to this Kalash which is supposed to burn endlessly for nine days. This is known as Akhand Jyoti.
Many people believe that the length of the Shoots determines the Quantum of income that they will have in coming six months. This belief could have been because India is basically an agrarian economy wherein the productivity of the land determined one’s income.
SIGNIFICANCE OF 9 DAYS
1st – 3rd day of Navratri
A small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room and barley seeds are sown on it on the first day of Navratri. These initial days are dedicated to Maa Durga, the Goddess of power and energy.
4th – 6th day of Navratri
During these days, Maa Lakshmi, the Goddess of peace and prosperity is worshipped.
7th day of Navratri
These final three days of the festival belong to Maa Saraswati who is worshipped to acquire the spiritual knowledge.
8th day of Navratri or Mahaashtami
The day begins with a recital of Sanskrit hymns by the devotees; they offer prayer to the goddess. Kumari Puja or the worship of little girls as the mother goddess is a special part of the rituals observed in a number of traditional and household pujas.
9th day of Navratri or Mahanavami
The festival of Navratri culminates in Mahanavami. On this day Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped. Their feet are washed as a mark of respect for the Goddess and then they are offered food mainly consisting of kala chana, halwa and poori along with coconut
pieces and dakshina (money) and Red chunri is offered to the kanjaks.