Navratri is an auspicious time when Adi Parashakti or Goddess Durga is worshiped. Navratri is celebrated five times a year. The two most celebrated Navratri festivals are Vasantha (beginning of spring) Navrathri and Sharad (beginning of autumn) Navratri held twice a year for nine days during the first half of Aswayuja and Chaitra months from Pratipad to Dasami. Aswayuja Navratri festivals are called Sharad Navratri and Chaitra Navratri festivals are popularly known as Vasant Navratri.
How is Vasant Navratri Celebrated?
Navratri means 9 Holy Nights during which Goddess Adi Parashakti who is worshiped in her three main manifestations: Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. The first three days of Chaitra Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Durga, the next three days to Goddess Lakshmi and the last three days to Goddess Saraswathi. Prayers, chanting, fasting, rituals mark the celebration of Chaitra Navratri. Houses are cleaned to welcome the Goddess and Vrat (fasting) is observed for nine days. During the nine days, devotees avoid non-vegetarian food and eat only sattvic food. Fruits, curd, vegetables, milk is allowed. Some take only one meal a day.
Rituals of Vasant Navratri
Pooja rituals are conducted starting from Ghatastapana or installation of sacred pot on the first day and ends with Kanya Pooja or Kumari Pooja. Kanya Pooja is a ritual observed during Vasant Navratri where little girls from ages 2-10 are worshiped. It is believed that little girls represent Mother Goddess. Devi Bhagwatha Purana states that blessings of the little girls can solve problems and bestow with wealth, longevity, happiness and peace. This pooja is observed on the eighth day or Ashtami. Devotees spend the nine days worshipping the Goddess by singing her glories or chanting mantras. Offering fresh flowers, freshly cooked food, lighting ghee lamps, arati (light and sound ceremony) to the idol or image of Goddess are done with devotion during this 9 day period.
Worship of Nine Forms of Shakti – Nava Durga
The 9 days of Vasant Navratri is dedicated to the worship 9 forms of Goddess Durga.
9 Mantras for 9 Holy Nights of Vasant Navratri
Chaitra Navratri day 1: ||Om Hreem Shri Shailaputri Durgaaye Namaha||
Chaitra Navratri day 2: ||Om Hreem Shri Brahmacharini Durgaaye Namaha||
Chaitra Navratri day 3: ||Om Hreem Shri Chandra Ghanta Durgaaye Namaha||
Chaitra Navratri day 4: ||Om Hreem Shri Kushmanda Durgaaye Namaha||
Chaitra Navratri day 5: ||Om Hreem Shri Skanda Mata Durgaaye Namaha||
Chaitra Navratri day 6: ||Om Hreem Shri Katyayani Durgaaye Namaha||
Chaitra Navratri day 7: ||Om Hreem Shri Kaala Ratri Durgaaye Namaha||
Chaitra Navratri day 8: ||Om Hreem Shri Maha Gauri Durgaaye Namaha||
Chaitra Navratri day 9: ||Om Hreem Shri Siddhidatri Durgaaye Namaha||
Benefits of Chaitra Navratri Pooja
As Chaitra Navratri falls during the beginning of summer, vrat (fasting) observed during the 9 days to appease the Goddess purifies and cleanses our body of toxins and impurities. This vrat has the power to remove all afflictions and grant good health. Devi Bhagwata Purana says, “Whoever observes Navratri Poojas with devotion are said to reap the benefits of good life, prosperity, fulfillment of desires and liberation or Moksha with the blessings of Goddess Adi Parashakti. Deadly sins are forgiven if this Navratri worship is done with faith and devotion.”