Navpatrika Puja is also known as Maha Saptami. The festival of Durga Puja starts in the Shukla Paksha of Aswin month. The unveiling of the Goddess idol starts on Mahashasthi. The main puja lasts for three days - Mahasaptami, Maha-Ashtami, Mahanavami. The festival involves chanting Mantras, reciting Shlokas, singing Arati and offerings. The festival of Durga Puja, also known as “Durgotsava” is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The five-days festival is celebrated during the period of Sharad Navratri in the month of Ashwin. Panchami, Shashti, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Vijayadashami are the most important days of Durga Puja. The festivities begins 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 Good over the Evil is celebrated during Durga Puja.
Another popular legend says that Goddess Durga visits her mother’s place during Sharda Navratri.
Celebrations and Rituals:
Navpatrika Puja is performed on Maha Saptami. A group of Nine plants including the branch of Bilva tree is worshipped as Navpatrika, and Goddess Durga is invoked in it. Navpatrika is purified with ceremonial bathing in water. Navpatrika is decorated with a red or Orange coloured cloth and is placed next to the idol of Goddess Durga. ‘Mahasnan’ is an important ceremony of Maha Saptami Puja. A mirror is placed in such a way that the reflection of the Goddess Durga is seen in it. The reflection of Goddess Durga is offered ceremonial bathing. The ceremony of ‘Prana Pratishthan’ is performed where the idol of Goddess Durga is consecrated. Pran Pratishtha ceremony is followed by an elaborate Shodashopachara Puja where Goddess Durga is worshipped with Sixten different puja articles.