Navratri is a very popular festival in India. It happens twice a year first during March-April then again around September-October. The nine days and nine nights of Navratri are devoted completely to the Mother Goddess. During this period fasting, strict vegetarian diets, japa (a mantra in honor of the Goddess Shakti), religious hymms, prayer, meditation and recitation of the sacred texts that speak of the Devi Maa (Mother Goddess) are common place. Apart from this, there is also a number of customary rituals that happen in relation to the festival. This article will tell you more about them.
The September-October Navratri has a main ritual where images of the Goddess Durga are places in homes and temples. The devotees then offer fruits and flowers to the goddess and sing bhajans in her honor.
The first three days of Navratri are exclusively the province of Durga and her worship. This is the period when her powers are worshiped. Each day is dedicated to the worship of a different aspect of Durga namely Kumari, Parvati and Kali.
It is also customary to plant barley seeds in a small bed of mud during the first day of puja. The shoots, when the sprout, are given to devotees at the end of the puja as a blessing from the goddess.
The fourth, fifth and sixth days of Navratri are devoted to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. The Goddess Saraswati is also worshiped on the fifth day in an event known as the Lalita Panchami.
The seventh day is exclusive to the Goddess Saraswati while the next day belongs to the Goddess of Art and Knowledge. A yagna is also performed on that day.
The last day of the Navratri is the ninth day. It is also known as the ‘Mahanavmi’. On this day the Kanya Puja is performed. In this ceremony nine youths who have not yet reached the age of puberty are worshiped. Each of these girls represents one of the nine forms of Durga. The feet of the girls are washed to welcome the goddess and to show her the proper respect. After this the girls are offered food and a set of new clothes as a gift from the devotees.
The end of Navratra comes with the immersion of the idols of Durga in water.
Dandiya and Garba are the dances performed on the evening of Navratri, Garba is performed before the ‘aarti’ as an act of devotion in honor of the Goddess, while Dandiya is performed after ‘aarti’ as part of the celebrations.
During the September-October Navratri, the tenth day is celebrated as the Dussehra. On this day, devotees perform ‘Saraswati Puja’ for the blessing of knowledge and inner peace. On this day, the buming of the dummy of the demon king Ravana also happens.