The colorful festivals of India are an integral part of the life of its people. They are symbols of the rich cultural heritage of the diverse land of India. Each unique festival is a celebration of great significance, where India comes alive in its fascinating best. Let’s read why Navratri is celebrated?
Importance of Navratri
Navratri is the festival of nine nights, during which the Divine Mother, the goddess of ‘shakti’, Durga, is worshipped in her nine forms and manifestations.
Navratri festival is observed twice a year, once in the month of Chaitra which coincides with the months of March – April and then again in Ashwin (Sharad), which is the equivalents of September – October.
During these nine days of Navratri, people take part in special ceremonies, rituals, fasting, and festivities. Gujaratis wear colorful costumes and perform ‘Garba Rass’, a special type of dance that is performed vigorously around an earthen lamp or circling the images of the Divine Mother.
The fast is broken on either Ashtami – the eighth day, or Navami – the ninth day, by serving food and praying before little girls who are seen as a form of the Goddess.
Sharad Navratri is also known by the name of Ashwin Navratri. Sharad Navratri 2019 in India will start on 29th September, Sunday and will end on 7th October, Monday.
Goddess Durga has nine structures, and all are loved amid Navratri by devoting every day to one ‘symbol’ or incarnation. Every Goddess is illustrative of a specific ideal.
Before reading the significance of all nine days, let’s read tips for Navratri fasting.
People look for Navratri fast recipes but these 9 tips are more important for consumption of food for Navratri fasting.
9 Tips for 9 Days of Fasting – Food for Navratri Fasting
- Instead of eating once a day during fast, take at least 4 – 5 falahari small meals so as to maintain your energy level and glucose level.
- Fruits make up the largest arc of your food rainbow. Eat plenty of fresh fruits of the season. Fruits will not only provide you energy but also fiber and vitamins. Remember more fibre gives you better digestion.
- Most of the Navratri recipes for nine days of fasting are deep fried with lots of oil and fats. So instead of frying, you can try baked or roasted recipes.
- Along with food items rich in carbohydrates, try to include fibrous vegetables such as cabbage, capsicum, etc. Remember to drink water regularly.
Read: Is fasting healthy?
- Chaulai (Amaranth) is a good source of protein and you can include it in your fasting menu. You can prepare its pudding (kheer) by cooking it in milk or you can also make puris or paranthas with it.
- Include kuttu ka atta (buckwheat flour) in your diet. It contains 70 % to 75 % of carbohydrates and 20 % to 25 % of protein. It maintains cholesterol levels and also manages diabetes as it is low in glucose.
- If you are health conscious, try to avoid fasting snacks available in the market. It will be advisable to include roasted makhana (Foxnuts), which is high in fiber and low in calories or roasted peanuts or dry fruits in your snacks menu.
- Samak Chawal (fasting rice) is a very good option for fasting food. It is not a cereal but a fruit. It is easily digested. You can cook rice as a pulao or you can also make its kheer with milk.
- If you are a sweets lover, save room for dessert. You can eat fruits, sweet curd, dates, apple pudding or Samak rice kheer as a dessert. Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal you will remember during your fasting day.
Now you want to know Why Navratri is Celebrated?
Significance of all nine days of Navratri:
- First three days are related to the worship of Goddess Durga.
- Next three days, Goddess Laxmi is worshipped.
- Last three days worship of Goddess Saraswati is done with all rituals.
1. Shailputri Puja on First Day of Navratri:
- Shailputri is the name of the form of Goddess Durga when she incarnated as the daughter of King of Mountains – Himachal.
- She is worshiped on the first day of Navratri.
- Meaning of Shail is a mountain and Putri is a daughter.
- Her sheen is equal to crores of moons.
- She rides on Nandi bull.
- Her head is embellished with a half-moon.
- She has a Trishul (trident) in her right hand and var mudra on the other hand.
Brahmcharini Puja on Second Day of Navratri:
- Maa Durga was incarnated as the daughter of King Daksh and this form of her is known by the name of Brahmcharini Devi.
- In this incarnation, her name was Sati. This was her un-married form which is worshipped as Brahmcharini Devi.
- She has Jap mala (Rosary) in her right hand and Kamandalu in her left hand. She walks bare feet.
- To get Lord Shiva as her husband, she was on a diet of flowers and fruits only for 1000 years, followed by green leafy vegetables for another 100 years. She used to sleep on the floor for her Tapasya.
- She did severe Tapasya for all seasons and remained on Bilva leaves for 3000 years for Lord Shiva.
- Her favorite flower is Jasmine and her favorite color is orange.
Chandraghanta Puja on Third Day of Navratri:
- Goddess Chandraghanta is the married form of Goddess Mahagauri, after getting married to Lord Shiva, when she started adorning her forehead with half-moon or Chandra. Thus, she is named as Goddess Chandraghanta.
- She is worshiped on the third Navratri.
- Chandraghanta governs the planet Shukra.
- She mounts on the tigress and wears half-moon or Chandra on her forehead. The Chandra (half-moon) on her head looks like Ghanta (bell) and so she is called by the name of Chandra-Ghanta.
- She depicts ten hands. In her four left hands, she holds Gada, Trishul, Kamandalu, and Sword. Her fifth hand remains in Varadra Mudra. In her four right hands, she holds Lotus Flower, Rosary (Jap Mala), Arrow and Bow (Dhanush). Her fifth right-hand remains in Abhaya Mudra.
- Her favorite flower is Jasmine.
- Chandraghanta Goddess is a Goddess of peace and welfare for her devotees.
- With all her weapons in her hands, she is ready for the war.
- With the sound of moon-bell (Chandra-Ghanta) on her forehead, all the devil spirits, obstacles remain away from her devotees.
Kushmanda Puja on Fourth Day of Navratri:
- Goddess Kushmanda is worshipped on the fourth Navratri.
- Goddess Parvati, after taking Sidhhidatri form, started living inside the Sun so as to liberate energy to the whole universe. After that, she is known by the name of Kushmanda Devi.
- She has the capability and power to live inside the Sun. Her body has radiance and glows as same as the Sun is luminous. She governs the Sun and provides energy and direction to the Sun.
- Goddess Kushmanda mounts on the lioness.
- Due to her eight hands, she is also called as Ashtbhuja Devi. In her four right hands, she holds Kamandalu, Bada, Dhanush and Lotus flower. In her four left hands, she holds Chakra, Jap Mala, Amrit Kalash, and Gada. Her favorite color is red and so red-colored flowers.
- In her Jap Mala, she has enormous power to bestow Nidhhis and Siddhis.
- She is the creator of Brahmand that is the whole universe and she likes white pumpkin’s (Kushmanda) Bali. Due to this association of Kushmanda and Brahmand, she is called by the name of Kushmanda Devi.
Skandmata Puja on Fifth day of Navratri:
- Goddess Durga took the incarnation of Goddess Parvati and she gave birth to Lord Skanda.
- Goddess Parvati in the form of the mother of Lord Skanda, ( who is also known by the name of Lord Kartikeya ) is known as Goddess Skandmata.
- She is worshiped on the fifth Navratri.
- Goddess Skandmata governs the Budha planet.
- She rides on the ferocious lion along with six-faced baby Murugan in her lap.
- Lord Murugan is the brother of Lord Ganesh, also known by the name of Lord Kartikeya.
- She has four hands. In both her upper two hands, she holds Lotus Flower. In one of her right hand, she carries Lord Murugan and her other right-hand remains in Abhaya Mudra.
- Goddess Skandmata is also known as Goddess Padmasana as she sits on Lotus Flower.
- Her complexion is Shubhra that also describes her white complexion.
- Her favorite flowers are red-colored flowers.
Katyayani Devi Puja on Sixth Day of Navratri:
- Goddess Parvati in the most violent form is known by the name of Goddess Katyayani. Goddess Parvati took incarnation in the form of Katyayani Devi to destroy Mahishasura demon.
- She is famous as the Warrior Goddess.
- Goddess Katyayani governs the planet Brihaspati.
- It is believed as per the religious books that Goddess Parvati took birth at the home of Rishi (sage) Katya. So, this form of Goddess Parvati is called by the name of Goddess Katyayani.
- Goddess Katyayani is Mahasaraswati as per Durga Saptshati texts.
- Goddess Katyayani mounts on the magnificent lion and has four hands. She keeps her right hands in Varada Mudra and Abhaya Mudra. In her left hands, she holds Lotus Flower and sword. Her favorite flowers are red-colored flowers. She loves red roses.
Kalaratri Puja on Seventh Day of Navratri:
- The time when the Goddess Parvati evacuated her external golden skin to slaughter evil presences named Shumbha and Nishumbha, she was known by the name of Goddess Kalaratri.
- Kalaratri is the fiercest and the most savage form of Goddess Parvati.
- Goddess Kalaratri is worshiped on the seventh day of Navratri.
- She governs the planet, Shani.
- Goddess Kalaratri appearance is dim dark.
- She is portrayed with four hands. She keeps her right hands in Abhaya and Varada Mudra and in her left hands, she holds a sword and the savage iron snare.
- Kalaratri remains naked and rides on the ass. She has long lips and radiant body. She is wearing decorations in legs like lightning and has open hair, enormous eyes, and ears.
- Her favorite flowers are night-blooming jasmine.
- Goddess Kalaratri is the most fierce form of Goddess Parvati.
- She favors her devotees with Abhaya and Varada Mudras. As a result of her Shubh or favorable force inside her form of Goddess Kalaratri, she is otherwise called Goddess Shubhankari (शुभंकरी). People also spell her name as Kalratri and Kaalratri.
- She is extremely ferocious looking.
- Worshiping over Goddess Kalratri evacuates all hindrances and also expels every enchanted impact made by others.
Mahagauri Puja on Eighth Day of Navratri:
- When Goddess Shailputri was sixteen years old, she was very beautiful and had brilliant white complexion as white as the moon. Due to her fair complexion, she was called Mahagauri.
- Goddess Mahagauri governs the planet Rahu.
- Goddess Mahagauri and Goddess Shailputri, both rides on a bull, therefore she is also famous as Vrisharudha.
- Her favorite flowers are night-blooming jasmine.
- She has four hands. In her one right hand, she carries Trishul (trident) and her other right-hand remains in Abhaya Mudra. In her one left hand, she holds Damru and her other left-hand remains in Varada Mudra.
- She is compared with the white flower Kunda and white moon.
- Mahagauri wears only pure white clothes. All these aspects portray her name – Goddess Mahagauri and Shwetambardhara.
Siddhidatri Puja on Ninth Day of Navratri:
- Goddess Siddhidatri possesses eight Siddhis and nine Nidhis.
- Goddess Siddhidatri was incarnated when Adi-Parashakti entered in the left half body of Lord Shiva.
- When the universe was beginning, Lord Rudra adorned Adi-Parashakti for creation, who had no form. After that, Adi-Parashakti took the form of Goddess Siddhidatri. Since then, Lord Shiva was also known by the name of Ardha-Narishwar.
- She is worshiped on the ninth day of Navratri.
- She governs the planet Ketu and gives direction and energy to it.
- Siddhidatri mounts on the lion and sits on Kamal (Lotus Flower).
- She has four hands. In her one left hand, she holds Lotus Flower and in another left hand, she holds Shankh (Conch). In her one right hand, she holds Gada and in another right hand, she holds Chakra.
- Lord Shiva got all the Siddhis from Goddess Siddhidatri. Along with humans, she is worshiped by all the Siddha, Aksha, Asura, Gandharva and Deva.
- She bestows all her Siddhis on her devotees. Devotees who worship Goddess Siddhidatri on the ninth day of Navratri receive the results of all the nine days worship.
Kanya Puja or Kumari Puja on Eigth/Ninth Day of Navratri:
- Kanya Puja or Kumari Puja is considered an important ritual during Navratri Puja and Durga Puja.
- This Puja is known by different names such as Kumari Puja, Kumarika Puja, Kanchaka, Kanya Laangur.
- As per Hindu religious texts, Kanya puja is suggested to be done on all the nine days of Navratri Celebration.
- To start with, one single girl is worshiped on the very first day of Navratri and one girl is added on each following day.
- Many people follow the practice of Kanya puja only on the single day either on Ashtami Day Puja or Navami Day Puja.
- The day of Kanya Puja is decided and followed as per family traditions of respective Kul. Kanya Puja is performed on Ashtami Tithi in Belur Math.
Kanya Puja Vidhi:
According to Hindu religious texts, two to ten years’ old girls are suitable for Kanya puja (Brahmin girls to fulfill all sorts of wishes, Kshatriya girls for the fame and glory, Vaishya girls for the prosperity and wealth and Shudra girls to get a son). These girls portray various forms of Goddess Durga and named as follows:
- Rohini Kali
- Subhadra or Bhadra
- All the nine girls (Kanya) and one boy (langur) are welcomed by washing their feet with religious water and red powdered kumkum.
- Then they are seated respectively on a mat laid on the floor (preferably in the temple zone of your home) and the religious red thread is tied on their wrists by chanting the dedicated mantra.
- A tilak is applied on their forehead and a red chunni of Devi maa is given to them.
- The youngest girl can be asked to pick up Jau from the mud pot which is now fully grown and kept in our temple as a sign of growth and wealth.
- Halwa, Puri, Chana, Coconut are prepared for Prasad Bhog to Goddess.
- People sing Navratri special bhajan.
- All the girls are served delicious food (Prasad) after offering Bhog to Goddess Durga.
- Dakshina (money) and gifts are given to all the girls by touching their feet and taking their blessings, who are seen as a form of the Goddess.
Durga Puja marks Goddess Durga’s visit to her parents’ home, along with her children, Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. The festival takes place in the month of Ashwin or Kartik, that is, in the months of September or October, also known by the name of Durgotsava.
Goddess Durga arrives on Horse on the Earth on the first day of Devi Paksha and departs on Charanayudha on Durga Visarjan Day. The five days during Durgotsava are Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Vijayadashmi.
Durga Puja Days Calendar in 2019: 4th October, Friday to 8th October, Tuesday
It is the biggest festival of the year for Bengalis – they worship Goddess Durga, who, holding ten weapons in her ten hands, finally triumphs over the demon, Mahishasura, thereby signifying the victory of good over evil.
The festival lasts for five days – people get up early, bathe and fast so that they can offer flowers or ‘Pushpanjali’ in the mornings on all days, ‘Aarti’ is performed daily before the deity, to the rhythmic beat of the ‘dhak’, a type of drum played by skilled drummers. Huge decorative temporary structures called ‘pandals’ are constructed housing the most beautiful idols, followed by community lunches and cultural functions.
On the last day of the festival, streets leading to the water bodies are crowded with onlookers who watch the numerous idols being taken for immersion. After this, in a tradition called ’Bijaya’ greetings are exchanged and sweets are offered to one another.
Navratri date Dussehra 2019 is 8th October.
17 Facts you must know about Dussehra – Vijayadashmi:
- The festival of Dussehra also known as Vijayadashmi is one of the most fascinating national festivals of India.
- According to the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana, Lord Rama prayed to Goddess Durga, seeking her blessings for the killing of Ravana, the ten-headed demon king who had kidnapped his wife, Sita.
- It is also the victory of Durga Maa over the buffalo demon Mahishasura.
- Durga Maa told Rama the secret of how he could put an end to the great Ravana’s life. Hence, the day the demon was slain by Lord Rama is celebrated as the festival of Dussehra, as it signifies the victory of good over evil.
- Revelers re-enact the legendary tale of Ramayana, after sunset, by putting up a performance called the ‘Ramlila’, wherein actors dressed as Rama and Lakshmana are shown shooting flaming arrows at huge effigies, stuffed with firecrackers, which represent the evil demons, Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnad.
- Dussehra day is considered an extremely auspicious and holy day.
- It is known by different names, Dussehra, Dasara, Dashain.
- The rituals done on the day of Dussehra such as Shami Puja, Aparajita Puja, and Seema Avalanghan are done during Aparahna time.
Dashami Tithi Begins ~~ 12:38 pm on 7th October 2019
Dashami Tithi Ends ~~02:50 pm on 8th October 2019
- Vijayadashmi Puja Time:
- Vijaya Muhurat – 02:06 pm to 02:52 pm ( Duration – 0 hours 47 minutes )
- Aparahna Muhurat – 01:19 pm – 03:39 pm ( Duration – 2 hours 20 minutes )
- Hindus believe that any work started on this day is bound to meet with success.
- In some communities, traders open new books of accounts and worship their tools and weapons.
- In some communities, Ravana is worshiped with flowers, Roli, Chawal, Mauli, Jal, Batasha, Kanda, Singhada, Mooli, Haldi and Jau by drawing his figure on paper with flour.
- All the sisters apply tilak on their brothers’ forehead and put Jau tied in Mauli on their ears, which they keep the whole day as a symbol of growth and success.
- Homes are cleaned and decorated for the festival with flowers and puja is performed worshiping Goddess Durga.
- People dress up in new clothes, eat delicious food, and sweets of various types are prepared and served to each other on this day.
Hope you now know why Navratri is celebrated!
Shubh Navratri! Jai Mata Di!