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Mahanavami- Navaratri

Maha Navami is the 9th day of the festival of Navratri as well as it is the last day of worship before Vijaya Dashami, the end of Navratri. In the Indian month of Ashwina, Maha Navami is celebrated on the ninth (or navam) day of the Shukla paksha. In accordance with the English calendar, Maha Navami is celebrated in the months of September and October.

During Navratri, there are 9 forms of Goddess Durga worshiped.

  1. Durga Shailputri (Daughter of Mountain)
  2. Brahamcharini
  3. Chandraghanta
  4. Kushmanda
  5. Skanda Mata
  6. Katyayani
  7. Kaalratri
  8. Maha Gauri
  9. Siddhidatri

Navratra, which is celebrated for nine nights and ten days, as the word navaratra itself means nine nights, during which nine forms of goddess are worshiped, the tenth days is generally referred to as vijayadashami or more commonly dussehra. Celebrated five times a year, they are Vasanta , Ashadha , the Sharad Navaratri, and thePaush/Magha Navaratri. Out of these vasant navratri is celebrated in the month of march - April) which also marks the start of the new year as per the Hindu mythological calendar & sharad navaratri which is celebrated during the onset of winter & is the most important of the navaratris, hence called the maha navratri.

Shardiya navaratri is significant for the worship of the divine mother in form of mahakali, mahalaxmi & mahasaraswati, also this festivals marks the victory of good over evil as the goddess durga killed buffalo headed demon, mahishasura on the day which is now we celebrate as maha navami, so mahanavami is also considered the eve of starting anything new on dussehra. In Bengal, it is celebrated as durga puja for 3-4 days and consummates on vijaya dashmi. On this day, goddess durga is worshipped as siddhidatri, the deity capable of granting every boon.

In southern India, goddess is worshipped as saraswati, the goddess of wisdom & knowledge. Ayudha puja is arranged and along with goddess, tools, machineries, musical instruments, books & equipments of all kinds are decorated and worshipped.

Kanya pujan is done on this day in many places, especially in north and eastern India. In this ritual, 9 girls are worshipped as goddess durga. Their feet are washed, sandalwood and kumkum paste is applied over them and are offered new clothes to wear. Then they are worshipped with mantras and incense sticks. In eastern part of our country, especially Bengal , mahanavami is the third day of durga puja, on this day, devi durga is worshipped as mahishasurmardini, meaning the goddess who killed mahishasur, the buffalo headed demon, sometimes a special ritual of navami home is also performed. Some places still perform animal sacrifice on this day.

Batthukamma festival is held on navami in some places of Andhra Pradesh, this puja is done by offering flowers arranged in a seven layer form in a conical shape & is offered to Mahanavami- Navaratri festival celebrates the glory of beauty of womanhood as women also wear new clothes and jewellery on this day. Western India, especially Gujarat and Mumbai, celebrate navaratri with the famous garba and dandiya raas dance, since the past few years, the state govt in Gujarat has been organizing the navratri festival celebrations on regular basis for the nine days of navratri festival in gujrat. People from all over the state and even abroad come to participate in the festive dance. It is immensely popular in India and in Indian communities abroad.

A very important aspect of navratras is Dussehra, which marks the return of lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman from lanka after killing ravana. In north India, ramlila is played during these nine days. It is a dramatic folk reenactment of the life of rama, a ten day war between rama & the 10 headed demon ravana, ending in a town square where the enactment of the final battle takes place, before giant effigies of ravana, kumbhakaran and meghanath are set fire & coronation of rama at ayodhya takes place. This play based on ramcharitmanas, a 16th century avadhi version of Ramayana, written by tulsidas is staged annually often over ten or more successive nights, during the period of sharad navaratras, marking the commencement of the autumn festive period.

During Navratri, some devotees keep fast and prayers are offered for the well being of the humankind, fast also serves as a health beneficiary where in devotees abstain from meat, alcoholic drinks. Grains, wheat and onion are also during these nine days. Grains are avoided due to the belief that during Navratri and seasonal change, it attracts and absorb lots of negative energies. Navratri is also a period of purification and introspection into our own conscious about the good and bad life which induces devotion in one’s heart apart from being a traditionally auspicious and religious time for starting new ventures.