navratri is celebrated all over india with different forms. e.g. in north india people keep fast. whereas in south india they don’t keep fast. in bengal reason it is celebrated as durga pooja. this year chaitra navaratri begins on 8th april, 2016 and ends on 16th april, 2016
in this post, we will be sharing how we do navratri pooja in north indian style. during navratri we invoke the goddess in our home. so its best to clean the house and also your pooja room. if you have ganga water then sprinkle it in all rooms.
since onion and garlics are not eaten so you can use them before the navratri begins. at home, we don’t use onions and garlic in food no matter whether other members of family are fasting on that day or not. you can refer this post on food allowed for navratri fast or vrat.
navratri fasting is for 9 days. many people keep fast on all days (which is best). but some people keep fast on first and last day. some people keep fast on last two days. some people try that one member of the family keep fast on everyday, so that someone from the family has kept fast during navratri.
navratri pooja vidhi or procedure
1. khetri – in north india, most devotees grow ‘khetri‘ or barley seeds during navratri. for this clean mud is collected from an auspicious or clean place. add this mud in an earthen pot. clean and wash the barley to remove any impurities or insects. soak the barley for 20-30 minutes. then put these barley or ‘jau’ on the top of mud. make a thin layer of mud on top of barley, so as to cover it. don’t put too much mud otherwise barley will not grow and put just enough water to soak the barley. one red color string (mauli) of mata rani (goddess) is tied to khetri pot.
the progress of ‘khetri’ or barley is keenly observed by the devotee’s. it is believed that the longer the barley grow in height, better it is for the family well being and prosperity. it is related with the blessings (kripa) of the goddess on you and your family. another opinion is that instead of observing the height of khetri, you should look at the color of khetri.
yellow color khetri is not considered good whereas green color khetri is considered good. on the last day of navratri after doing kanjak pooja, the khetri is immersed in moving water bodies like river or even a pond. if there is no water body nearby to your house then you can put the khetri under pipal tree in the temple. if you stay out of india, then check with your local temple as often they collect the khetri.
2. mata rani ka shingar (cosmetics) – the shingar items include red chunri, red bangles, red lipstick, bindi, kajal, , nail polish, mehendi, anklets, sindhur and mirror. we keep these items in the home temple and whenever (any day of navratri) we visit the city temple devoted to goddess then we offer these shingar items in the temple.
3. akhand jyoti – one diya or lamp is burned through out the nine days and care must be taken that there is enough ghee or oil in the diya all the time. keep the diya in temple in such a place where it does not get much breeze. if it happens then you can cover the diya with lamp but best to keep it open. this diya is called as akhand jyoti (burning all the time for nine days). this akhand jyoti will destroy all the negativity in your house. if by chance the jyoti is extinguished then light it again.
4. along with this one red color chunri or cloth and one mature coconut is kept in the house temple. the thin edge of coconut should be towards the temple.
5. one kalash (earthen or copper pot) is filled with water, 5 betel nuts or suparis, sugar, rice and a five rupees coin. the kalash is kept with all these pooja items. in the kalash, red color string of mata rani is tied and this kalash water is sprinkled in your house after the kanjak pooja is done on 8th or 9th day. you can also drink this water. this water is considered as charanamrit and is holy.
10. after taking bath in the morning, aarti is done for devi maa and bhog is given to maa in the form of dry fruits (5 types), milk, bananas, mishri or other fruits. you can also offer fresh flowers. after doing the aarti or pooja only, you should take the food. the same aarti is done in evening time (sandhya kaal) too. burning incense, dhoop(specially googal dhoop) etc is part of morning and evening pooja.
12. bhog suggestions: the below info about bhog on each day, my mil has seen in television this year and will be part of her navratri pooja procedure now onwards.
1st day of navratri (devoted to shailaputri ma) – cow ghee ka bhog. it will bring good health in your life and will keep the diseases away.
2nd day of navratri (devoted to bharmacharini ma) – sugar and fruits are offered as bhog. it will increase the longevity of your family members
3rd day of navratri (devoted to (chandraghanta ma) – doodh or milk ka bhog or you can offer sweets or kheer. it will bring relief from pain and misery. after offering milk to ma it can be donated to brahmins.
4th day of navratri (devoted to kushmanda ma) – malpuda or puda (skip adding fennel seeds or saunf), after giving this bhog to mata… the pudas can be keep below pipal tree. it increases the intellect and power of discrimination and decision making ability.
5th day of navratri (devoted to skandamata) – banana or kela ka bhog. it keeps you physical healthy.
6th day of navratri (devoted to katyayani ma) – honey ka bhog. you can also make donation to pandit on this day. this increases health and beauty.
7th day of navratri (devoted to kaalratri ma)– jaggery or gur ka bhog. it removes all sorrows and evil from your life. protects you from sudden calamity.
8th day of navratri (devoted to maha gauri ma) – mature coconut as bhog. removes sorrow from your life and give you success. childless couple are blessed with child.
9th day of navratri (devoted to siddhidatri ma) – til ka bhog. she is the goddess of all siddhis.
note – back home, this bhog is later on offered to nearby devi ma temple or given to any small girl (kanjak) or offered to any brahmin who conducts pooja service at your home. last option is to eat the bhog with devotion.
13. chanting, mantras and bhav: try to keep your body and mind clean. keep your thoughts focused on maa or goddess while doing your household work. you can do some special pooja or havan in your house or chant ‘jai mata di’ or chant durga saptashati or sri lalita sahasranama. you can also chant the mantra “Aaim hreem kleem chamundayai vichche” – 108 times (1 mala) in morning and one mala in evening.
you can also visit devi temples during these days or can play devotional songs or mata ke bhajan in the house to help your mind to stay connected with maa.
fasting food – there is no fix rule and it varies from community to community. some people eat only one flour based diet in a day and rest of the day they take milk, tea, fruits etc. those who can not go for such strict diet take 2 flour based meals. in my place, we also buy ‘seel ki patti or laddu’ – made from popped amaranth seeds, from the grocery stores and have it during the fasting. normally, there is always relaxation for old or sick people, even for nursing mothers or for those who can not follow rigorous fasting rules. but non-veg food and alcohol should not be allowed in the house till navratri is over. no matter you are keeping navratri fast or not.
navratri kanjak pooja or kanya pooja – many families also do kanya puja on 8th or 9th day. my parents get up early in the morning, take bath and wear fresh clothes to start the pooja preparation. in the kanya puja, nine girls who have not reached the puberty stage are worshiped. for the devotee these nine girls represents nine forms of goddess durga. the young girls who sit for kanya pooja take bath in the morning and wear new clothes.
i have seen this kanjak puja. first the feet of the girls are washed with water by the family elders. one mauli (red color string) is tied on their hands and tilak is put on forehead. then they are worshiped and blessings is taken from them. after the customary navratri kanya pooja, small girls are offered prasadam which is usually puri, dry black chana and halwa. the coconut which is kept in the house temple is also broken during this occasion and is given as part of prasad. some families also worship one small boy in the form of bhairav but most families only worship the girls. many people insist that only girls should sit for kanjak pooja. in our family we only do worship of small girls. however if any small boy also come then we offer prasad to him also but he is not part of pooja
devotion in pooja is most important – small girls are worshipped because they are pure, innocent and form of shakti. the ego has not developed in them. if you worship them with devotion then devi ma energy can descend into them and via them you are actually worshipping the goddess. so don’t take it just as a formality.
minimum two girls should sit for kanjak pooja. no restriction on doing pooja with more than 2 girls but minimum two girls, older than one year of age are must. if in your locality, nine girls can sit for kanjak pooja then it is best. because then you can worship all nine forms of goddess.
along with the prasadam (in one plate puri, black chana and halwa is given), gifts, fruits and money is given to the girls (nowadays many people give gifts items like chocolate, frutti etc). fruits are must to be given. money can be given as per your financial condition.
since that day small girls are in demand. they have to go to many houses. they simply cannot eat all these prasad in one sitting. so don’t force them, if that is the case. but just make sure that the girls eat part of poori, chana and halwa before going to another house for pooja. just one bite is also enough and take blessings from them which they will give by gently patting on your head.
with the tilak on head and so much attention, love, and devotion received on the day, these small girls really look divine and they are really sought after on kanjak pooja day. raksha bandhan and kanjak pooja are two big days for small girls !!!
note: if you have followed the rituals correctly during nine days and the worship of nine girls is done with real devotion then goddess will be there inside the girls when you are worshiping them. its all up to your devotion and faith in ma. if you can call maa with real devotion then she will come for sure.
secondly, if you stay abroad and you cannot arrange two girls for kanjak pooja or there is no devi ma temple near by. then you can follow this procedure on last day pooja – “in your house prepare poori, halwa and dry kala chana as prasad. make as many plates of prasad (poori, halwa, kala chan) as there are members in your house (you can include your son or daughter who might be staying else where). offer these prasad plates to devi ma and after some time once you feel that maa has taken the prasad then eat it immediately with devotion. prasad should always be eaten first before eating any other food and have it as soon as possible”. if there is any devi ma temple in your city then you can offer this prasad in the temple also after offering it to maa in your home temple.
when navratri fast is broken – on the day, kanjak pooja is done, the navratri fast is broken in my house. some people do kanjak pooja on 8th day (ashtami) and some do it on 9th day (navami) and few people do it on dussehra (10th). mostly it is done on 8th or 9th day. the day kanjak pooja is done, on that day in our house we do the immersion of khetri along with red cloth (chunri) in moving water or it can be kept under pippal tree in a temple. i have heard that abroad, few temples collect the khetri. so ask your nearby temple for guidance.
normally, in our house pooja is completed early morning itself. if you also want to do kanjak pooja on 9th then keep fast on 8th (ashtami) as many people keep fast on 1st and last day of navratri.
please don’t take this above navrati vrat procedure as a thumb rule. because the procedure varies from family to family. here, i am just sharing the procedure which is observed at my home and it is just for your reference and help.
faq on navrati fast:
1. navrati fast can be observed by anybody. it does not matter what is your caste, religion or faith. we all are children of mother goddess. i have seen, some families who have started growing khetri in their home seeing my mother doing it.
2. if you plant khetri at your home or invokve goddess in your home during navratri then don’t stay at anybody house during night. stay at your house.
3. if the monthly cycle begins then don’t fast. eat normal food without onion and garlic. once the periods are over then you can observe the fast.
4. celibacy is observed during navratri.
5. many people don’t wear shoes or slippers. many people sleep on floor or on mat and avoid sleeping on bed. all this is part of austerity and helps in disciple and in practicing inner sadhana. it is good if you can follow it but it is not compulsory. because you cannot go to office without wearing shoes.
6. if you are taking medicines for some treatment or disease then you can eat them during fasting.
most important thing in religious fast is your devotion, totality and purity in heart. if somehow you miss any rule or make a mistake unknowingly then don’t worry about it. mother goddess always loves her children no matter how they are or what they do. she is always kind to her children and is forgiving. from your side, just make sure that your heart is pure, clean and without malice for anyone. direct your energies to righteous action and towards inner growth (spirituality). instead of regretting about making a mistake in observing fasting rule, just focus on remember the goddess all the time. keep your thoughts on maa during these nine days and don’t waste in mundane matters.
disclaimer: the above inforation is best to my knowledge. i am sharing the method which i have learnt from my family and from books on navratri festival. if in doubt, then please consult your family elders.