Chaitra Navratri is a Hindu festival that has great significance and is celebrated over a phase of nine days ‘pratipada’ being the first day of the festival and ‘Navami’ being the 9th day of the Shukla Paksha. This festival is also known by the name ‘Rama Navratri’ or the ‘Vasanta Navratri’ as it falls in the very first month of the Hindu Calendar. The last or the 9th day is celebrated as Ram Navami, the day Lord Ram took birth. All the nine days of this festivity are devoted to worship the nine different forms of Shakti Goddess.
Rituals performed during the Chaitra Navratri:
Even before the festival begins, the houses are cleaned to welcome the Goddess. Devotees who perform puja observe fasting throughout the nine days. Consumption of only satvik food is allowed for all the nine days. Even garlic and onion is prohibited. Discipline is strictly maintained in food to be consumed. While worshipping the Goddess, devotees chant the Navratri mantras. A devotee can only break the fast after the ‘
During the Chaitra Navratri, the Shakti Goddess manifests herself into three different forms – Ma Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Therefore, the rituals of Puja are also classified into three sets of three days, each dedicated to one Goddess at a time. The first three days of the festival are dedicated to Goddess Durga, the divine Goddess of energy. The next three days are dedicated to worship Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. The Goddess of Knowledge, Ma Saraswati is worshipped on the last three days.
The sequence to be followed for the Puja rituals during the Chaitra Navratri are as follows:
Pratipada– the first day begins with the Ghatasthapana, Chandra Darshan and Shilputri Puja
Dwitiya- Brahmacharini Puja and Sindhara Dooj are the rituals for this day.
Teej- Chandraghanta Puja is done on this day. This day is also celebrated as Saubhagya Teej or Gauri Teej.
Chaturthi- Kushmanda Puja is observed on this day. This day is also known as Varad Vinayak Chaturthi.
Panchami- Skandamata Puja and Naag Puja are performed on this day and this day is also known by the name Lakshmi Panchami.
Shashthi- Katyayani Puja is done on this day. This day is also known by the name Skanda Shashthi- or Yamuna Chhath.
Saptami- The Kalratri Puja is observed on this day and is known as Maha Saptami.
Ashtami- the Sandhi Puja and the Mahagauri Puja are done on this day. It is the main day and is also known as Annapurna Ashtami.
Navami- The Siddhidatri Maha Puja is done on this last day and it is also known as Rama Navami.
Importance of Chaitra Navratri:
The Chaitra Navratri is celebrated by Hindus with great enthusiasm as the devotees worship Goddess Durga and seek her divine blessings. If Maa Durga is worshipped without the intention of fulfilling all the desires, it is believed salvation would be attained. Chaitra Navratri falls in the month just when the summers begin and Mother Nature experiences huge climatic changes. It is believed that if people fast on all the nine days of the festival, their bodies get prepared to endure the summer season.
Although the Chaitra Navratri is a festival of continuous celebrations for nine days, it only ends on the 10th day, the Dashami or Navratri Parana. On this day, the devotees bid Goddess Durga farewell and pray She returns soon the next year.