Vrat-Festivals | Vrat
Chaitra Shukla 1 to 9; Aashwin Shukla 1-9
See also Names of Nine Devee; Nava Raatri Story; Nava Raatri Mandapam in Kerala;
There is a Brahmotsav named festival in Southern India, especially celebrated in Tirupati Jee's Temple during Aashwin Nava Raatri days. It is celebrated in other Vishnu temples also there on various other dates.
This festival of Devee or Shakti is celebrated two times in a year. In fact there are 9 Nava Raatri in one year. (365 / 9 = approx in every 40 days of the year) but most people only know or observe only two Nava Raatri, one in the beginning of the New Year, in Chaitra Maas (April) and another after six months in Aashwin Maas (September-October). On the tenth day of the First Nava Raatri (Chaitra or April) is the Janm Divas of Shree Raam or Raam Navamee is celebrated. On the tenth day of Second Nava Raatri is Vijayaa Dashamee, the day when ten heads of ego was brought to Earth by God himself.
Many Saadhu and saints call this and other four Nava Raatri Gupt (hidden) Nava Raatri. Actually Durgaa Maa who resides in Durgaa Mandir in Kaashee in her Kooshmaandaa Roop, the priests and Saadhu observe this Nava Raatri as well as all other Nava Raatri. They observe nine Nava Raatri in total throughout the year. Jagadambaa Bhagavatee or Shakti Upaasanaa, Shree Raam Charit Maanas, Shree Mad Bhaagvat Geetaa, Durgaa Sapt Shatee, Guru Geetaa, Shree Saai Charitra , Ved, Puraan any kind of Saadhanaa is performed. Some Bhakt observe six Nava Raatri - Varshaa, Sharad, Shishir, Hemant, Vasant, and Greeshm. Still very popular are four Nava Raatri; Chaitra, Aashwin, Kaarttik and Paush.
About Paush Nava Raatri - I heard about Shaakambharee Devee Nava Raatri which ends on Paush Poornimaa. Maa Shaakumbharee Devee has countless number of eyes upon that gave her the name Shataakshee. She was carrying grains, cereals, vegetables, greens, fruits and other herbs - and was hence called Shaakumbharee - who is full of Shaak (vegetables and fruits etc). In the Devee Mahaatmya, it is said that Goddess Durgaa appeared as Shaakumbharee after a drought of hundred years. She brought forth from her body fruits, flowers, vegetables and herbs to satisfy the hunger of the people. Her story is given in Shiv Puraan.
On the ninth day of the First Nava Raatri (Chaitra or April) is the birthday of Shree Raam or Raam Navamee is celebrated, that is why it is called Raam Nava Raatri also; while on the tenth day of the Second Nava Raatri, Vijayaa Dashamee, the day when ten heads of ego was brought to earth by God himself, is celebrated. Aashwin (Asauj or Aswaayuj) Nava Raatri is celebrated because after nine days of worship of Devee Maa. Raavan was killed on the ninth day when Devee Saraswatee, the Devee of Vidyaa and knowledge, told Shree Ram through Vibheeshan that Raavan could only be killed if he is hit in his navel (Naabhi) other wise Raam had been hitting him 30 arrows every time to cut his 10 heads and 20 arms, but those arrows were not working as Raavan had the boon that as his arms and heads will be cut, an afresh set of those will grow again. Vibheeshan told Raam that Raavan had the Amrit in his nael that is why unless Raam shot one arrow at that place, Raavan is not going to die. After that Raam shot 31 arrows, including one arrow in Ravan's navel, then only he could kill him (although Vaalmeeki Raamaayan does not support this view). It is said that Raam invoked Durgaa to win and kill Raavan during these days, that is hy Aashwin Nava Durgaa is called "Akaal Bodhan", means untimely invocation.
Jagadambaa Bhagavatee or Shakti Upaasanaa, Shree Ram Charit Maanas, Shree Mad Bhagwat Geetaa, Durgaa Sapt Shatee, Guru Geetaa, Shree Sai Charitra, Ved, Puraan any kind of Saadhanaa is performed. This Second Nava Raatri is called "Shaaradotsav" also - the vernal worship being called Vaasantee. Some Bhakt observe six Nava Raatri - for Varshaa, Sharad, Shishir, Hemant, Vasant, Greeshm seasons. Still very popular are four Nava Raatri; Ashwin, Paush, Chaitra and Kaarttik.
1. Vasant Nava Raatri : Chaitra Nava Raatra or Raam Nava Raatri. Vasant Nava Raatri is the festival of nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti in Chaitra Shukla Paksh (March–April).
2. Gupt Nava Raatri : Gupt Nava Raatri comes two times in a year. Once in Aashaadh and second time in Maagh. Gupt Nava Raatri, also referred as Aashaadh or Gaayatree or Shaakambharee Nava Raatri, is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) celebrated in the Shukla Paksh (waxing phase of moon) of Aashaadh (June–July).
3. Sharad Navaratri: This is the most important of the Nava Raatri. It is simply called Mahaa Navratri (the Great Nava Raatri) and is celebrated in the month of Aashwin. Also known as Sharad Nava Raatri, as it is celebrated during Sharad (beginning of winter, September–October).
4. Paush Nava Raatri : Paush Nava Raatri is nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) celebrated in Shukla Paksha of Paush (December–January).
5. Maagh Nava Raatria: The second Gupt Nava Raatri comes in Maagh Maas. Thus Maagh Nava Raatri, also referred as Gupt Navratri, is also nine days dedicated to the nine forms of Shakti (Mother Goddess) in the month of Magha (January–February), observed during the Magha Shukla Paksh.
The purpose of the Nava Raatri is to lead us to mental stability and happiness by celebrating those Nava Raatri. The four Nava Raatri are so placed that they fall on the two equinoxes and the two solstices. These four points help us to stop time. Once the time is stopped, we can go beyond time to Aatmaa or Brahm. This is the main purpose of the Nava Raatri. The birth of Raam is Raam Navamee, the Moon is supposed to be at the Winter solstice at that time. At Vijayaa Dashamee the Moon is supposed to be at the Summer solstice; also the Earth is supposed to be at the Spring equinox at Raam Navamee and at the Autumn equinox at Vijayaa Dashamee. Thus our festivals are well arranged. But you know nowadays our festivals are out of sequence due to precession of the equinoxes. This is known as Ayan-chalan or Ayanaansh in Jyotish (astrology).
Devee appears in two main forms, Kaalee and Shakti. Both Paarvatee and Kaalee are Shakti. In relation to Shiv, Kaalee plays the opposite role from that of Paarvatee. It is Paarvatee or Gauree who brings Shiv within the sphere of domesticity and who, with her soft glances, urges him to moderate the destructive aspects of his Taandav dance. Kaalee is Shiv's "other" wife, provoking him and encouraging him in his destructive form. This is required to complete the cycle of existence.
Kaalee is widely worshipped in the eastern parts of India. She is most fierce, inexorable killer and blind and has no consideration of any kind. She is conqueror of time. It is she who can destroy the universe. Being the destroyer of Chand and Mund, she is known as Chaamundee Devee. Other forms of Kaalee are Shamashaan Kaalee (goddess of the cremation ground), Bhadra Kaalee, Ugra Chandee, Bheem Chandee, Siddheshwaree, and Sheetalaa Maataa (the goddess of smallpox).
How we worship Devee, and in which form, is up to us. It largely connects with our own psyche and to which form we relate to and feel comfortable with. To some, the ferocious form of Maa Kaalee is most beautiful and soothing. It depends on what we want from Maa. If we want protection, be it from diseases or enemies or anything else, we go to her Kaalee Roop. If we are looking for her grace in married life, you may worship her as Gauree to bestow such qualities on you that help you to be a good wife. If you are a student or a learner, do the Vandanaa of Maa Saraswatee and ask for her divine grace, and if you want prosperity, you may call upon her Lakshmee Roop. Even as Mahaa Lakshmee, she is Asht-Lakshmee with 8 Roop. Now if you have a specific problem, just like you go to a specialist doctor, you may seek a special grace from the specific form of Lakshmee, such as marital happiness from Saubhaagya Lakshmee, or wealth from Dhan Lakshmee or material comforts from Bhog Lakshmee etc etc (the Asht-Lakshmee forms). see also Devee Worship
How to Celebrate Nava Raatri
Nava Raatri or time of Durgaa Devee, nine Devee / Mahaa Kaalee, Mahaa Lakshmee, Mahaa Sarasawatee come four times in a year in Hindu calendar months (Shukla Paksh of Magha, Chaitra, Ashaadh, and Aashwin). But in Kali Yug, in the present Yug, only one / two Chaitra and generally Aashwin months are observed in India. Devee Durgaa is worshipped in her different forms for nine days from Pratipadaa of Shukla Paksh to Navamee and in Aashwin (near September) too - from the same Pratipadaa to Navamee.
Generally fasts are done during the eight days, from Pratipadaa (first day) to Ashtamee (eighth day). On the ninth day Kanyaa and Langar (girls and boys under the age of nine) are invited, fed, and given Dakshinaa. Fasts may be kept in different potencies either with or without water, or only milk, or with fruits or with one time food at night. Fast with milk and fruits only may be kept on all the nine days, or at least once in each of the three three-day periods. (see also Devee Worship to know about this three day period)
This is a period of climatic changes which makes body prone to infections and diseases. Fasting prevents that. Devotee do not talk much, do not back-bite, say lies , watch read bad literature during these days, if possible they read Devee Bhaagvat Puraan. Durgaa Sapt Shatee is read. Gita Press has a very good form of Durgaa Sapt Shatee.
Devotees should start with Paap Mochan, Shaap Mochan Mantras. Devee Kavach, Argalaa, Keelak, Sapt Shatee Paath, Siddh Kunjikaa Paath is done every day of Nava Raatri. They sleep on floor, don't shave for nine days. keep Kalash on Pratipadaa to Navamee. Navaarn Mantra Jap is done for Paap Naash, desires, or Devee's happiness (if it is Nish-Kaam).
Daan (charity) is done. It is said that if charity (in purest form, giving Seedhaa or grains to Pandit with Dakshinaa) is done in this period brings in multiples of Laakhs or millions. Strictly no non-veg and liquor, onions, garlic, beetroot, Moolee, carrots are taken during this period. Devotee abstains from telling lies, and sex also. Nava Raatri are for Shakti, Bhakti, Paap Moksh, material progress.
Kanyaa (2 to 9 years of girls) as they are known as Kanjikaa with Pooree,
Chanaa, Halavaa, and are given red cloth and Dakshinaa and if the person
has any Kaamanaa or desire he asks from Kanyaa after giving them to Kanjikaa.
On the 10th day Visarjan of used Pooja Saamagree is done.
In Northern India specially in Panjaab and Delhi, even the name of the festival is changed, this becomes Nava Raatri, here this is a period of fasting for seven days, and the people observe their “Nava Raatri” fasts. On the eighth day or Ashtamee, or sometimes on the ninth day or Navamee, devotees break their fasts by calling young girls (below 10 years of age) home - these girls are treated as the goddess herself. They are called “Kanjak Devee”. People ceremonially wash their feet, worship them and then offer food to the “girl-goddesses” giving them the traditional ‘Pooree’, ‘Halavaa’ and 'Chanaa’ to eat along with red bangles and the red ‘Chunnee’ to wear with a token amount of money as “Shagun”. The ninth day is then called Navamee which means literally the ninth day of this holy and pious period.
Another prevalent practice is of sowing pulses, cereals and other seeds (barley is in fashion) on the first day of this festival in a pot which is watered for nine days at the end of which the seeds sprout. This pot is worshipped throughout the nine days. This custom is also indicative of fertility worship and is known as “Khetri”. It is significant of prosperity and abundance. On the first day of the Nava Raatri, grains of barley are planted in the Poojaa room of the house. Every day some water is sprinkled on it. On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3-5 inches in length. After the Poojaa, these seedlings or the “Khetri” as this is referred to is submerged in water. This custom suggests a link to harvesting. The sowing and reaping of barley is symbolic of the “first fruit”.
Prasaad to Offer to Devee on Each Day
The nine days are for nine forms of Devee. Everyday a different Prasaad is offered to her. Details of Prasaad to be offered as per the Tithi is as follows :--
Pratipadaa - Gud kaa Halavaa
The nine-days of Nava Raatri festival are dedicated to this Almighty. The devotees of Maa Durgaa would perform special Poojaa to invoke the deity and pray for peace, prosperity and happiness. Fasting and singing Bhajan are the two highlights of the festival. While the way of celebrating the occasion might be different in different regions of the country, but the thought among all remains the same - to praise the Lord and seek her blessings. Goddess Durgaa temples are flocked by devotees, where they offer prayers, perform Aartee and chant Mantras. Talking about Nava Raatri Mantra, it is chanted during the Poojaa by the devotees, to protect themselves from evil. Following are some Nava Raatri Mantra to recite --
Mantra For Nava Raatri
Sarv mangal maangalye shive sarvaarth saadhike
Namoh devyai mahadevyai shivaayai satatam namah
Annapoorne sadaapoorne shankarah praan vallabhe
Navaarn Mantra - Aim hreem kleem chaamundaayai vichche
Nava Raatri Poojaa Thaalee
Nava Raatri Vrat Thaalee
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 10/04/13