The word Navratri is made of two words, Nav + ratri. The word Nav means nine and ratri means nights, so the Navratri is a time span of nine days of worshipping Shri Adi Shakti Maa Durga who is said to be the ultimate source of all powers in the universe.
Goddess Maa Durga is worshipped during Navratri, in her different forms. Worshipping Maa Durga during these special nine days is believed to give great happiness and fulfillment of our wishes with blessings of Maa Durga.
Maa Durga devotees fast and worship her during this period. The devotees observe fast, abstaining from cereals, grains and pulses. Special food is eaten. So much so only Senatha salt is used in preparation of food Non-vegetarian food is completely avoided, and in many households people do not even keep eggs, meat liquor etc. Many devotees are known to give up even drinking alcohol, smoking and shaving during these days.
Each of the Nine days of Navratri represents the nine different forms of Maa Shakti.
They are: Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghata, Kooshmanda, Skandhmata, Katyayni, Kaalratri, Mahagauri & Siddhidatri.
The Mother Goddess Devi is known by different names in the different parts of our country. She is known as Durga and Kali in Bengali, Bhadrakali in Gujarat, Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir, Chamunda in Karnataka, Santoshi Ma and Bhavani in Maharastra and Kamakhya in Assam. She is invoked in many more forms and names each derived from her unique character, the most common being “Sheraanwali Mata”. However for her devotees she is just ‘Ma’ the universal mother who protects her children every time they need her or whenever they call out to her.
All the forms of Maa Shakti have powers to bless its devotees. People fast and perform pujas every day during these nine days to please Maa Shakti, the divine mother. It is believed that this is a very good period to please the mother for being blessed with “Akhanda Lakshmi”. It is quite advisable to worship Shri Lakshmi Maa in all her eight forms simultaneously with the normal routine Pooja performed during these nine days. During this period, One must recite “Shri Durga Argala Stotra” to overcome obstacles in life.
The eight different forms of Shri Lakshmi are:
- Adi Lakshmi or Maha Lakshmi (incarnation of Lakshmi as the daughter of sage Bhrigu)
- Dhana Lakshmi ( giver of wealth)
- Dhanya Lakshmi ( giver of agricultural wealth)
- Gaja Lakshmi ( giver of animal wealth)
- Santan Lakshmi ( giver of progeny)
- Veer Lakshmi ( giver of courage and strength)
- Vijaya Lakshmi ( giver of victory)
- Vidya Lakshmi (bestower of knowledge)
The Navratri culminates on Mahanavami. Kanchka—the Kanya Puja is performed on this day. Some people perform Kanchka on c Ashtmi the eighth day. For Kanchka nine young girls who represent the nine different forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped. Before entry of the. Kanchka into the house devotee their feet are washed as a mark of respect for the Goddess and then they are offered special food and gifts by the devotees the most important being a red color ‘ chunni’. The ritual of . Kanchka is performed in most parts of the country. With commercialization, the festival has moved on to be a social festival rather than merely a religious one. However, nothing dampens the spirit of the devout followers of Goddess Durga, as they sing devotional songs and indulge in the celebrations of Navratri, year by year.
Navratri days are considered to be very auspicious time. Usually people wait for Navratri to start new ventures in business, to buy new property or even new vehicles.
WE must never forget that Navratri does not mean that one should displease others on account of fasting nor does Navratri means having a feast for meals during this period. Devotees need to fast and not feast during the Navratri. We should always remember, we may be able to fool everybody but not Maa Durga. Navratri is about pleasing the divine mother to forgive our sins and bless us with her grace so that we lead a meaningful life.
Jai Mata di