Bilva Nimantran is a foremost ritual of Durga puja. The festival of Durga Puja starts in the Shukla Paksha of Aswin month. Thousands of devotees offer prayers to their departed ancestors at the river banks. The ritual is called Tarpan. The main puja lasts for three days - Mahasaptami, Maha-Ashtami, Mahanavami. The festival involves chanting Mantras, reciting Shlokas, singing Arati and offerings.
Durga Puja is also known as “Durgotsava” and is celebrated to worship Goddess Durga. It is a five-day festival which is celebrated during the period of Sharad Navratri in the month of Ashwin.
The Durga Puja ceremony is observed as Shashti, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Vijayadashami. Durga Puja starts from the fifth day of Navratri (Sharad Navratri) which is known as Bilva Nimantran and culminates on the Dashmi Tithi or Vijayadashami.
Significance and Legend:
According to a Hindu legend, a Buffalo Demon Mahishasura, after years of praying to Lord Brahma, was granted a boon which made him invincible. Any man or God could not kill him. After gaining power, Mahishasura started destroying the world. He began to kill people and became a threat for Gods. To annihilate Mahishasura, Goddess Durga emerged from the collective energies of Gods as a divine feminine power. The victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura is celebrated during Durga Puja.
Another popular legend says that Goddess Durga visits her mother’s place during Sharda Navratri.
Celebrations and Rituals:
Durga puja begins with Bilva Nimantran which is performed on Panchami Tithi. Sanyakal on Panchami Tithi is considered more suitable for conducting Bilva Namantran. As per the religious scriptures, a combination of Sanyakal and Shashthi is the most appropriate time for Bilva Puja. Bilva Aamantran is one of the main rituals on the first day of Durga Puja, which mostly falls on Panchami or Shashti Tithi. The ritual of Bilva Nimantran is performed to invite Goddess Durga for Puja. Ritualistically Inviting Goddess Durga is known as Nimantran. ‘Bilva Nimantran’ is performed ideally during Sayankaal on Shashthi. But if Sanyakal prevails on Panchami Tithi, then Panchami Tithi is an auspicious time for ‘Bilva Namantran.’ Durga Puja begins with Bilva Nimantran day. Goddess Durga is invoked in Bilva Tree or its branch before sending a puja invitation to her for the next day. The best time to perform invocation of Goddess Durga is Sanyakal which is approximately 2 hours and 24 minutes before sunset.