Navratri is a nine nights (and ten days) Hindu festival, celebrated every year in India. Navratri comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Nava’ which means nine and ‘Ratri’ which means night. It is celebrated in different ways in different parts of the country. Theoretically speaking, there are four seasonal Navratri – Sharada Navratri, Chaitra Navratri, Magha Navratri and Ashada Navratri. According to the Gregorian calendar, Chaitra Navratri falls in the month of March-April.
According to the texts written in the Ramayana, to seek the blessings of Maa Shakti, Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana worshipped for nine days and performed yajna on the last day. The nine day-long prayers were performed to seek the blessings of Maa Shakti to help release Goddess Sita from the captivity of Ravan, the evil King.
According to another mythological legend a prince named Sudarshan had won a battle and he was a very dedicated believer in Maa Shakti. After the victory, the prince performed a yajna to thank Maa Shakti. Hence, this day is celebrated as Chaitra Navratri.
The prayers are performed in the evening of Chaitra Navratri. The idol or image of Maa Shakti is decorated with flowers and placed on an altar. The goddess is worshipped and later food (bhog) is offered to her. A variety of traditional food is prepared on this day in the honor of Goddess Shakti. Betel leaves, nuts, coconut, and fruits are also presented to the goddess.
Devotees observe a full day fast during Navratri to seek the blessings of Maa Durga. The fast is concluded in the evening after ‘Prasad’ (food) is offered to the goddess. The same ritual is performed on all nine days. The devotees chant Vedas and hymns during the puja. The men and women visit temples and give charity to the poor. No onion, garlic, grains, wheat, or spicy food is consumed during these nine days of fasting. Non-veg is strictly prohibited these days.
Chaitra Navratri also marks the change of season and fasting helps in physical, mental and spiritual exercise for devotees. It also helps to gain good health and happiness.
This Hindu festival is immensely popular in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to name a few.
Nine Mantras for Nine Days of Navratri
Day 1 Mantra- वन्दे वाञ्छितलाभाय चन्द्रार्धकृतशेखराम्। वृषारुढां शूलधरां शैलपुत्रीं यशस्विनीम्॥
Day 2 Mantra- दधाना करपद्माभ्यामक्षमालाकमण्डलू। देवी प्रसीदतु मयि ब्रह्मचारिण्यनुत्तमा॥
Day 3 Mantra- पिण्डज प्रवरारूढ़ा चण्डकोपास्त्रकैर्युता। प्रसीदम तनुते महयं चन्द्रघण्टेति विश्रुता।।
Day 4 Mantra- वन्दे वांछित कामार्थे चंद्रार्घ्कृत शेखराम, सिंहरुढ़ा अष्टभुजा कुष्मांडा यशस्वनिम॥
Day 5 Mantra- सिंहासनगता नित्यं पद्माश्रितकरद्वया. शुभदास्तु सदा देवी स्कन्दमाता यशस्विनी॥
Day 6 Mantra- स्वर्णाआज्ञा चक्र स्थितां षष्टम दुर्गा त्रिनेत्राम्। वराभीत करां षगपदधरां कात्यायनसुतां भजामि॥
Day 7 Mantra- करालवंदना धोरां मुक्तकेशी चतुर्भुजाम्। कालरात्रिं करालिंका दिव्यां विद्युतमाला विभूषिताम॥
Day 8 Mantra- पूर्णन्दु निभां गौरी सोमचक्रस्थितां अष्टमं महागौरी त्रिनेत्राम्। वराभीतिकरां त्रिशूल डमरूधरां महागौरी भजेम्॥
Day 9 Mantra- स्वर्णावर्णा निर्वाणचक्रस्थितां नवम् दुर्गा त्रिनेत्राम्।शख, चक्र, गदा, पदम, धरां सिद्धीदात्री भजेम्॥
Inputs from Mr. Pankaj Khanna, Chairman, Khanna Gems