The festival of Navratri is dedicated to nine goddesses and it is celebrated in all parts of India. It is celebrated till nine days. The tenth day is known as Vijayadashami. During Navratri, goddess Saraswati, goddess Lakshmi and goddess Durga is worshipped. Devotees indulge in various rituals like worshipping the goddess, fasting, singing aarti, chanting hymns - mantra and Jagran (overnight devotional celebration) at night.
Navratri Puja Ritual:
Navratri Puja is offered to the almighty Goddess or shakti for peace, health and prosperity.
A kalawa is tied to the urn followed by placing the beetle leaves and lidding it with a coconut amidst the leaves. This urn is placed in front of the idol of the goddess. The Sthapna is conducted in the wee hours of the morning.
Several devotees opt to enlight an Akhand Jyot for the 9 days which is lit at the time of Sthapna.
It is considered auspicious to place a hand imprint dipped in turmeric paste of the eldest woman in the family on a piece of paper next to the idol of the goddess. This pleases goddess.
On a ninth day, Ayudha Puja is performed. This involves worshipping of one's livelihood. It also helps to maintain constant remembrance of the divine. Children place their study books on the altar. On the 10th day also known as Vijaya Dashami, devotees perform Saraswati Puja and Durga puja to invoke the blessings of goddess Saraswati and Durga.
Pooja Routine for Nine Days
After the Sthapna, devotees should follow a strict routine. It is necessary to worship goddess in the morning as well as in the evening. In the morning, verses from the Durga Saptashati are to be recited along with the hymn (Aarti). Many devotees fast during the 9 days. They eat proper food only once in a day.
Shlokas and Mantra:
Prathamam Shailputri cha Dwitiyam Brahmcharini.
Tritiyam Chandrghanteti Kushmandeti Chaturthakam.
Panchamam Skandmateti Shashtam Katyayniti cha.
Saptamam Kalratri Maha Gauri cha Ashtmam.
Navmam Sidhidatri cha Nav Durga Prakirtitah.
Maa Durga Shloka
Ya devi sarva bhutesu, shanti rupena sansitha,
Ya devi sarva bhutesu, shakti rupena sansthita,
Ya devi sarva bhutesu, matra rupena sansthita,
Namastasyai, namastasyai, namastasyai, namo namaha!
Sanskrit Verses for Goddess:
Sarva Mangala Maangalye Shive Sarvaartha Saadhike Sharanye Trayambake Gauri Narayani Namosthute!
Significance: Navratri puja reminds the people of their traditional values and culture. It is a festival of worshipping Shakti. During Navratri Puja, people chant mantras, sing bhajans and perform puja. These devotional activities make the whole environment very religious, pure and peaceful. Another significance of Navratri puja is, it purifies the mind & heart by removing all the negativities. Navratri puja generates the spirituality and kills all the evils & bad thoughts. However, Navaratri has a message for those who lead a worldly life. They should invoke Durga to surmount obstacles, pray to Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity, and worship Goddess Saraswati to gain knowledge. These three things are necessary for a complete worldly life. Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are different facets of the singular Divinity.