How to celebrate Navaratri festival | Navaratri Story

Navarathri is a Hindu festival celebrated in the Tamil month known as "Purattaasi". "Nava" means nine and "ratri" means nights. During Navarathri, Goddess Shakthi is worshipped in three forms as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Navarathri is celebrated as Vasanta Navarathri from June - July, Sharada Navarathri from September - October, Paush Navarathri from December - January and Magha Navarathri from January - February. 

Story behind the celebration of Navarathri:-
It is believed that Goddess Durga took nine forms to slay the demon Mahishaasura. On all the nine days, She waged war with Mahishaasura and Her victory is celebrated as  the victory of good over evil, as She takes the form of Devi Vijaya on the 10th day which is known as "Vijaya Dasami". In order to win over the demon Goddess Durga prayed before Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva felt that Goddess Durga should be energised by transferring the energies of all living beings of the universe in order to defeat the demon. Therefore He transferred the energies of all living beings to Goddess Durga during the nine days of Navarathri resulting in all living beings to standstill. This is symbolised by arranging various idols and dolls as Golu. During Navarathri we invite women and give them flowers, betel leaves, betel nuts, blouse piece, kumkum, turmeric powder and coconut as "Thaamboolam". Sundal packets are also given.

Reason For Kumbham / Kalasam Worship:-
During Navarathri, Goddess Shakti is placed on a "Kumbham" and worshipped, as it is believed that the evolution of the whole universe including human beings, animals, birds and all living entities have emerged from the Supreme power Shakti, who is all pervading and protecting as the guarding and guiding divine force. Only after the establishment of Vijayanagaram Empire, Navarathri festival was celebrated by arranging the idols and dolls on steps. Earlier, it was believed that only Khumbham worship (Goddess Shakti placed on a khumbam) formed the main part of Navarathri festival.

The significance of worshipping Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati during Navarathri:-
During Navarathi, Mother of the universe is worshipped as Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswathi as the personification of Kriya Shakti, Ichcha Shakti, and Gnana Shakti respectively. 
1. Goddess Durga destroys the rough obstacles on physical level and She is the expression of "Kriya Shakti". 
2. Goddess Lakshmi destroys the mental obstacles and is the expression of "Ichcha Shakti". 
3. Goddess Saraswathi is personified as "Gnana Shakti" and destroys ignorance about the true divine nature.

Lalitha SahasraNamam, Raja Rajeswari Ashtakam, Durga Stotram, Soundharya Lahari, Devi Suktam, MahaLakshmi Ashtakam, Lalitha Pancharatnam, Saraswathi Ashtakam, Mahishasura Mardini Stotram, Sri Navadurga Raksha Stuti are chanted during Navarathri.

How to celebrate Navaratri festival | Navaratri Story

Significance of each day, the different forms of Shakti worshipped and special Neivedhyam / offerings during Navarathri:-
1. On the First day of Navarathri Goddess Durga is worshipped as Baala. Ven Pongal and Karamani Sundal are offered as offerings.

2. Second day, She is worshipped in the form of Raja Rajeshwari. Tamarind rice and Puttu are offered as neivedhyam.

3. Third day, Goddess is worshipped as Vaaraahi. Sakkarai Pongal and Ellu Podi are as offered as neivedhyam.

4. Fourth day, She is in the form of Lakshmi. Curd rice or Lemon rice are offered as neivedhyam.

5. Fifth dayShe is in the form of Vaishnavi. Mocha Payar Sundal is offered as neivedhyam.

6. Sixth day, She is worshipped as Indraani. Coconut rice is the neivedhyam.

7. Seventh day, She is worshipped as Annapoorani, also worshipped as Saraswathi. Chick pea Sundal is the neivedhyam.

8. Eighth day, She is worshipped as Durga. Appam is the neivedhyam.

9. Ninth day, She is worshipped as Chamundi. Kondaikadalai Sundal is the neivedhyam.

10. Tenth day, She takes the form of Devi Vijaya. Sakkarai Pongal is offered as neivedhyam. It is an auspicious day to start learning, to acquire knowledge, to commence any new project and similar activities.

How to celebrate Navaratri festival | Navaratri Story

Procedure to arrange the Golu Padi / Steps and Dolls:-
1. During Navarathri, the steps are arranged in odd numbers like three, five, seven and nine. Arrange the dolls from the uppermost step to the lower one in the order starting with Gods followed by great saints, followed by great leaders, spiritual exponents, next common men and women in all walks of life, followed by animals, birds and forest and garden. When there is no sufficient space to arrange the steps, dolls can be arranged on one step.

2. Before arranging the dolls on the steps, first it is important to place a Ganesha idol with a small cup of raw rice and a small cup of raw toor dal, as it is considered to be an auspicious beginning. It is also important to note the auspicious time and day to keep the Golu. There is a tradition to place a man and a woman doll made out of wood which is known as "Marapaachi" in Tamil. It is decorated in traditional style like saree and dhoti. 

3. On all the nine days, Aarathi is shown for the Golu by mixing turmeric powder and Kumkum with water.

4. On Saraswathi pooja day, holy books like Bhagavath Gita, Ramayana, household accounts book, educational books, home tools like scissors, knife are placed and worshipped as "Ayudha pooja". These weapons symbolize the weapons of victory over the demon.

5. The tenth day is known as "Vijaya Dasami" and Goddess takes the form of Devi Vijaya as it is celebrated as the day of Her victory and hence the name "Vijaya Dasami". It is a good day to start learning, to acquire knowledge, to commence any new project, and similar other activities.

6. The day after Vijaya Dasami one of the dolls in the Golu are placed in the lying posture which symbolizes that they are going to the Shayana stage and then the dolls are taken away from steps and kept inside the boxes. Dolls should be taken only on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Navarathri is not only celebrated in India, but also in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and in other Eastern countries.

I'm delighted to share this post in Pavi's Kitchen. Hope you enjoyed reading this. I will be posting the neivedhyam recipes whenever I prepare and I will attach the link here. I'm thankful to my mother-in-law who is as good as my own mother, has been guiding me to post the importance and procedures of Navaratri. Hope this is concise and covers all the aspects of the festival. Thank you for reading and share this post with your friends and family if you like it:) See you soon with another interesting festival post. Stay tuned!

The story, instructions and procedures behind the Navaratri mentioned in this post are completely based on our family tradition. This is how we perform our Navaratri pooja and the main reason for this post is to keep an online record for myself and for our future generations. I also would like to share the same with our family members and friends for the reference. I'm sure this post would be useful if you are performing the Golu every year. You may share this post with anyone. Thank you for understanding!!!