A different form of the Mother Goddess is worshipped on each day.
These nine days are divided and devoted to the Trinity of God worshipped in a
female form - three days for
Durga (Goddess of Valor) three days for
Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) and three days for
Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge and Art).
1st - 3rd day of Navratri On the first day of the
Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room of the house and
barley seeds are sown on it. 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. These initial days are dedicated to Durga Maa,
the Goddess of power and energy. Her various manifestations, Kumari, Parvati
and Kali are all worshipped during these days.
4th - 6th day of Navratri During these days, Lakshmi Maa, the Goddess of
peace and prosperity is worshipped. On the fifth day which is known as Lalita
Panchami, it is traditional, to gather and display all literature available in
the house, light a lamp or 'diya' to invoke Saraswati Maa, the Goddess of
knowledge and art.
7th - 8th day of Navratri
These final days belong to Saraswati Maa who is worshipped to acquire the
spiritual knowledge. This in turn will free us from all earthly bondage. But on
the 8th day of this colourful festival, yagna (holy fire) is performed. Ghee
(clarified butter), kheer (rice pudding) and sesame seeds form the holy
offering to Goddess Durga Maa.
A Universal Festival :
All Hindus celebrate this festival at the same time in
different ways in different parts of India.
In the northern part of the country, the first nine days
of this festival, calledNavaratri, is commonly observed as a time for rigorous
fast, followed by celebrations on the tenth day.
People in western India, especially in Gujarat, spend
the nine nights of Navratri (nav = nine; ratri = night) in song,
dance and merriment. Garba is a graceful form of dance, wherein women dressed
in exquisitely embroidered choli, ghagra and bandhani dupattas,
dance gracefully in circles around a pot containing a lamp.
In eastern India, especially in Bengal, the Durga Puja is the principal
festival during Navratri. It is celebrated with gaiety and devotion through
public ceremonies of “Sarbojanin Puja” or community worship. Huge decorative
temporary structures called “pandals” are constructed to house these grand
prayer services, followed by mass feeding, and cultural functions. The earthen
icons of Goddess Durga, accompanied by those of , Saraswati,Ganesha and
Kartikya, are taken out on the tenth day in a triumphal procession to the
nearby river, where they are ceremonially immersed.
Although, the universal nature of the festival is often found to
transcend regional influences and local culture, the Garba Dance of Gujarat,
Ramlila of Varanasi, Dusshera of Mysore, and Durga Puja of Bengal need special
Rituals and Celebrations :
festival of the nine nights is in honour of the goddess, the Divine Power. On
the first night the “ghatsthapana” takes place. A vessel of water called
“kalash” is put before the image of the goddess, while Vedic verses are
recited. During nine days the image of the goddess and the “kalash” must not be
touched. This must be accompanied by fasting, or with only one meal a day. An
oil lamp must be kept burning throughout. This lamp is called “nandadip”. Every
day a garland of fresh flowers is tied before the goddess. Near the water
vessel some mud is spread and grains are sown. The grains sprout during the
nine days. On Dasara day the bunch of tender plants is put on the clothes.
During these nine days the holy book “Durga Saptashati” is read. This
book contains the exploits of the goddess. Every day special food is prepared
for the goddess. Brahmins, married women and young girls are invited for
dinner. At night “arti” is celebrated with great solemnity. In some places it
was customary to offer the sacrifice of either a male buffalo, or a goat or a
The day begins with a recital of Sanskrit hymns of devotees,they offer anjali
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.
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 feets are washed as a mark of respect for the Goddess and then
they are offered food mainly consisting kala chana, halwa and poori.
Then after new clothes or gifts by the
worshiper. This ritual is
performed in most parts of the country.
After the three days of Puja, in Dashami , in the last day, a tearful farewell
is offered to the Goddess. Most of the community pujas postpone the farewell as
long as possible and arrange a grand send-off. The images are carried in
processions around the locality and finally is immersed in a nearby river or
lake. Vijaya Dashami is an event celebrated all over the country.