Chaitra Navratri is a major Hindu festival that is celebrated grandly for nine days in India.
The festivities begin from the 1st day till the 9th day of Shukla Paksha (the bright lunar fortnight) during the Hindu month of ‘Chaitra’. This is also the first month of the Hindu calendar. In the English calendar, it falls during March-April.
Chaitra Navratri is also called ‘Vasanta Navratri’ or ‘Rama Navratri’. The ninth day of the festival is believed to be Lord Rama’s birthday. During Chaitra Navratri, people pay homage to the nine forms of Goddess Shakti. Most of the rituals and customs are similar to those followed during the ‘Sharad Navratri’.
Rituals of Chaitra Navratri 2021:
Chaitra Navratri celebrations are marked by prayers and fasting. Before the celebrations commence, the house is cleaned thoroughly to welcome the Goddess into the devotee’s home.
The devotees who will be performing the Pooja fast for all nine days. During the fast, only ‘satvik’ food like curd, potatoes, ‘kuttu ka aata’, and fruits are allowed. Non-vegetarian food, onion, and garlic are not eaten. During the Navratri period, apart from maintaining strict discipline in food, one should also maintain good behavior. Devotees spend the nine days worshipping the Goddess and chanting Navratri mantras. The fast will be broken on the ninth day, after the ‘havan’. The prasad is offered to the Goddess, and then the devotee and their family members partake of it.
Goddess Shakti manifests in three forms - Goddess Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. The Pooja rituals of Navratri are also categorized in a set of three days, and each set is dedicated to a particular form of the Goddess.
Maa Durga is worshipped on the first three days of Chaitra Navratri. She is the Goddess of energy. Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, is honored on the next three days. Saraswati, Goddess of knowledge, is worshipped on the last three days. The Pooja rituals of each of the nine days of Chaitra Navratri are as follows:
- Day 1 –The rituals to be performed are ‘Ghatasthapana’, ‘Chandra Darshan’ and ‘Shailputri Pooja.
- Day 2 – The rituals are ‘Sindhara Dooj’ and ‘Brahmacharini Pooja’.
- Day 3 –This day is also called ‘Gauri Teej’ or ‘Sauhagya Teej’. The main ritual is ‘Chandraghanta Pooja’.
- Day 4 –Also called ‘Varad Vinayaka Chauth’. Devotees observe ‘Kushmanda Pooja’ on this day.
- Day 5 –This day is also called ‘Lakshmi Panchami’. ‘Naag Pooja’ and ‘Skandamata Pooja’ are performed on this day.
- Day 6 –It is called ‘Yamuna Chath’ or ‘Skanda Sasthi’. ‘Katyayani Pooja’ is performed.
- Day 7 – This day is ‘Maha Saptami’ and the ‘Kalratri Pooja’ is performed for the Goddess’ blessings.
- Day 8 – It is the day of ‘Durga Ashtami’, also called ‘Annapurna Ashtami’. On this day, ‘Mahagauri Pooja’ and ‘Sandhi Pooja’ are done.
- Day 9 –The last day is observed as ‘Rama Navami’. On this day, ‘Siddhidatri Maha Pooja’ is performed.
Despite the fact that Chaitra Navratri is a 9-day festival, the festivities conclude only on the 10th day or ‘dashami’. This day is called ‘Navratri Parana’, and devotees see off Goddess Durga while praying for her return the next year.
The Hindu Puranas and scriptures claim that Chaitra Navratri was the most important Navratri for Goddess Shakti’s worship until Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in the month of ‘Ashwin’ month during the war against Lanka. Chaitra Navratri is celebrated grandly all over India, especially in north India.
Chaitra Navratri 2021, also called Vasant Navaratri 2021, begins on 13 April, a Tuesday, and ends on 22 April.