Navratri is a very important and popular festival of India. It comes twice on a year, once around March-April and the second time, around September-October. The nine days and nights of Navratri are entirely devoted to Mother Goddess. Throughout this period, fasts, strictly vegetarian diets, japa (chanting mantras in honor of the Goddess Shakti), religious hymns, prayer, meditation and recitation of sacred texts related to Devi Maa (Mother Goddess) form the order of the day. Apart from this, there are a number of other customs and rituals as well, which are associated with the festival. Let us know more about them.
Customs & Rituals of Navratri
- The main ritual of Navratri, celebrated on September-October, consists of placing images of Goddess Durga, in homes and temples. The devotees offer fruits and flowers to the Goddess. They also sing bhajans in her honor.
- The first three days of Navratri are devoted exclusively to the worship of Goddess Durga, when her energy and power are worshipped. Each day is dedicated to a different appearance of Durga, namely Kumari, Parvati and Kali.
- There is also a custom of planting barley seeds in a small bed of mud on the first day of puja. The shoots, when grown, are given to the attendees, as a blessing from Goddess, after the puja ceremony.
- These fourth, fifth and sixth days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth & Prosperity. Goddess Saraswati is also prayed to, on the fifth day, which is known as Lalita Panchami.
- The seventh day is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, while the Goddess of Art and Knowledge is worshipped on the eight day and a yagna is also performed.
- The ninth day is the final day of Navratri celebrations, which is also known as ‘Mahanavami’. On this day, Kanya puja is performed, where nine young, who have not yet reached the stage of puberty, are worshipped. Each of these nine girls symbolizes one of the nine forms of Goddess Durga. The feet of the girls are washed, to welcome the goddess and show respect to her. Thereafter, the girls are offered food and a set of new clothes, as a gift from the devotees.
- The nine-day Navratra celebrations, which fall in September-October, come to an end with the immersion of the idols of Goddess Durga in water.
- Dandiya and Garba are the featured dances performed on the evenings of Navratri, mainly in Gujarat. Garba is performed before the ‘aarti’, as devotional performance in the honor of the Goddess, while Dandiya is performed after it, as a part of the celebrations.
- In case of September-October Navratri celebrations, the tenth day is celebrated as Dussehra. On this day, devotees perform ‘Saraswati Puja’, for blessings of knowledge and mental peace. On the day, the burning of the dummy of demon king Ravana also takes place.