The Hindu festival of Navratri is celebrated two times as year. The first Navratri or Chaitra Navratra falls on March-April. The second Navratri happens around the same time as the Durga Puja during October-November. The many nights of Navratri are devoted to the worship of the many facets of the Goddess Durga who is likewise worshiped in many forms. Prayers are offered to Durga as she is considered to be the manifestation of the pure energy that pervades the Universe.
During the nine days of the festival the devotees chant mantras, sing songs and bhajans to praise Durga. Fasting on Navatri is considered mandatory. To celebrate the festival, a number of pujas are conducted during the nine days. Basically one follows these steps for the Navratri pooja.
Navratri Puja Vidhi
In order to perform the Navratri pooja one needs certain items. One must have an idol or picture of the Goddess Durga, the Durga Sapthashati book, water in a Kalash pitcher, fresh washed mango leaves, one coconut, a red colored roli, moli (red sacred thread), chawal rice, paan betel leaves, supari betel nuts, cloves, cardamom, kumkum (vermillion) and gulal. One also needs a few incense sticks, a deep and matchstick.
The flowers used for Navratri puja include roses, lotus and the red hibiscus. Stalks of Bilwal leaves are also used for this puja. One can also offer fresh pomegranate and sweets such as laddoo and peda and prasad. One also needs to have Panchapatra with a spoon, water and bael leaves. It might be a good idea to take a mat to sit on.
Performing Navratri Pooja
- To perform the puja one must take a bath in the morning and wear laundered clothes.
- Then, fill the kalash with water and place mango leaves on its mouth.
- Put the coconut inside the kalash then tie the moli on the neck of the pitcher.
- Place the idol or picture of Ma Durga in the puja room and then worship her with roli, rice, flowers, balepatra, kumkum and gulal. After this one may consider adding lighted coal to a clay pot and pour ghee over it.
- Offer a small piece of sweetmeat to the fire.
- Continue adding ghee to the fire at regular intervals. Make sure that the light is maintained throughout the puja.
- Once the Navratri puja is a participant is to fold his hands and encircle the flame three times.
- Finally, the participant is to light incense sticks and perform the aarti.