Navratri, also known as the Festival of Nine Nights, is celebrated twice in a year with great zeal and enthusiasm in honor of goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Navratri celebrated in the month of October-November is called “Ashwin Navratri”. During the nine days of Navratri one must work upon their aahar (food), vyavhaar (behaviour) and acharan (character).
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Mata Shailputri is worshipped on the first day of Navratri because she is the first form or avatars of Durga. She is the daughter of “Parvata Raju” or the mountain king. In her previous birth she was the daughter of King Daksha and was known as “Sati Bhavani Mata”. Mata Shailputri rides on a bull and holds a Trishul in her right hand and a lotus in the left hand. Her face is blissful with a pleasant smile.
Ritual performed on First Day
On the first day “ghatsthapana” is done in which a small bed of mud is prepared and barley seeds are sown over it. A vessel of water (kalash tied with a red sacred thread) is placed on this bed. Above this Kalash is placed a bowl filled with rice. A coconut wrapped with mango leaves is then placed over it (Kalash). This Kalash is not touched during the nine days. An oil lamp or diya (Akhand Jyoti) is lit near the Kalash which burns endlessly for the nine days. Garland made of fresh flowers is placed on the image of the goddess and Mantras are recited. Holy book “Durga Saptshati” is read. In the night, “Aarti” is performed with devotion and dedication.
Mantra to Chant
To seek the blessings of Mata Shail Putri one must chant the Mantra “Om aim hring kleem chamundayi vichche”.
Fasting During Navratri
Many devotees observe fast during these auspicious nine days. They get up early in the morning, take bath and offer prayer to the goddess. They depend on “Satvik” (vegetarian) food which includes fruits, nuts, potatoes, sabudana and curd. Singhare ka atta (kuttu ka atta) is also used to prepare puris or rotis for the fast.
During Navratri one should avoid eating non-vegetarian food and should also avoid alcohol. In some families onion and garlic are also not used during Navratri.
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