Friday, September 30, 2011

Navratri



The nine Navratri colors for 2011 are:
Pratipada - September 28, 2011 (Wednesday) - Blue 
Dwitiya/Tritiya - September 29 (Thursday) - Yellow
Chaturthi - September 30 (Friday) - Green
Panchami - October 1 (Saturday) - Grey
Sashti - October 2 (Sunday)  - Orange
Saptami - October 3 (Monday) - White
Ashtami - October 4 (Tuesday) - Red
Navami - October 5 (Wednesday) - Purple
Vijayadasami - October 6 (Thursday) -  Pink

The nine-day festival of Navratri, or Navaratri, in Hindu religion dedicated to the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga. Navratri 2011 dates are from September 28 to October 5, 2011. Sharadiya Navratri begins on the first day of the bright half of Ashvin or Ashwayuja (September-October) as per traditional Hindu calendar. Navratri is also dedicated to the worship of Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Lakshmi.

Apart from the Navratri in September – October, the next most important Navratri is the Chaitra Navratri or the Navaratri in March-April. This is also known as Vasant Navratri or Ram Navaratri. This is from April 4, 2011 to April 12, 2011

Here are the dates of Navratri in 2011
Ghatsthapana – Navratri Day 1 – September 28, 2011 - Chandra Darshan
Navratri Day 2 – September 29, 2011 
Navratri Day 3 – September 29, 2011 - Sindoor Tritiya
Navratri Day 4 – September 30, 2011 - Varad Vinayak Chaturthi
Navratri Day 5 – October 1, 2011 - Lalitha Panchami
Navratri Day 6 – October 2, 2011 - Saraswati Awahan in some regions
Navratri Day 7 – October 3, 2011 – Saraswathi Avahan - Maha Lakshmi Puja - Maha Saptami
Navratri Day 8 – October 4, 2011 – Saraswathi Puja – Mahashtami - Annapoorna Parikrama
Navratri Day 9 – October 5, 2011 – Saraswathi Puja ends – Mahanavami 

The tenth day is celebrated as Dasara or Vijaya Dashami - Saraswathi Balidan

South India
In South India, Goddess Durga is worshipped during the first three days.
Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped during the next three days
Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped during the last three days.

How to Do or Perform Navratri Puja – The South Indian Way of Observing Navaratri..

Navratri, the nine-night festival, honors Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswathi in South India. It is known as Bommla Koluvu in Andhra Pradesh and Navarathri in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Navratri is observed as Dusshera in Karnataka, where it is observed for ten days. The main event during Navrathri in South India is the display of dolls and idols – Kolu and the placing of Kalash, which represents Goddess. Navratri in 2011 begins on September 28.

Navratri puja might seem a huge complicated event for many. You can always perform a simple puja by worshipping the Goddess on nine days by lighting a lamp and offering a fruit as prasadam. Rituals are not important but devotion is important.

Here is a step by step method on how to perform Navratri Puja.
Getting Ready
Get the house cleaned and ready. You are inviting Goddess into the home. Usually this is done on the Amavasi day, a day before the beginning of Navratri.
Mango leaf festoons are installed on doors, windows and in puja room. Fresh Kolams are drawn.
If you are keeping Kolu, get all the Kolu dolls ready. Repair broken pieces and use natural colors to paint them.
Decide upon the Bommai Kolu Theme.
Plan early about the pooja prasadam (neivedya) and also about the gifts that you plan to give to women guests.
Requirements for Navratri Puja
If you are keeping Kolu dolls, purchase new dolls at least a couple of new ones. The most important doll needed is the Marapachi dolls (Male and Female pair of dolls).
A pot for Kalasha or Kumbha (brass pot)
Face of Goddess to be stuck on Kalasha. Some people do not opt for this.
Sweets
Ingredients of the Prasadam to be prepared (this depends on what neivediya you are preparing)
Betel leaves
Betel nuts
Bananas
Coconut
Usual fruits
Usual pooja items like lamp, incense, agarbathis etc.
Lotus flower for Goddess Saraswathi and Goddess Lakshmi. Jasmine for Durga. Avoid wild flowers.
If you are giving gifts to women invited for Navratri Pooja, then the bag should contain betel leaves, betel nuts, a pair of round turmeric roots, a coconut, fruits, sweets, flowers, a small gift. You can also include cosmetics like eye kohl, kumkuma, bangles, comb etc.

A day before Navratri Puja
Navaratri Puja begins on the Bhadrapada Amavasi day or Puratasi Amavasai day, a day before Navratri begins. All arrangements are done on this day. In some communities male members perform Tarpan or Shardham dedicated to dead ancestors in the morning.
In the evening, Kalasha or Purna Kumbha is prepared. This is an invitation to Goddess to enter your home.
Purna Kumba or Kalash is kept on a kolam in such a place that there is space behind to keep the Bommai Kolu. You can attach a face of Goddess to the Purna Kumbha and decorate the Kumbha with jewelry, turmeric, sandal paste, flowers etc.
Those who do not keep Kolu, keep the Kalash in the Pooja room.
Betel leaves, Betel nuts, a coconut is placed in front of the Kalasha. Cooked rice or boiled and sweetened milk is kept as prasadam or neivedya in front of the Kalasha.
This Kalasha is to be kept for next nine days – it symbolizes Goddess.
A lamp is lit every evening and morning for nine days.
Normal puja is performed.
Arranging the Bommai Kolu
Next you can start arranging the Kolu dolls. Some people keep Lord Ganesha on the first step. Others opt for the Marapachi dolls. How to arrange dolls can be found here in this article.

Navratri Puja Begins
Women perform all the pujas during Navratri.
You have already installed the Goddess in the form of Purna Kumbha. Light a lamp morning and evening on all nine days.
Elaborate pujas are conducted in the evening.
Other women are invited on any one of the evening.
The first three days is dedicated to Goddess Durga.
The next three days is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi.
The final three days is dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi.
Fresh kolams are done on all nine days.
Shlokas that are recited on nine days include Durga Ashtotaram, Devi Mahatmiyam, Shyamala Dhandakam, Lakshmi Sahasranama, Lakshmi Ashototaram, Lalitha Sahasranama, Saraswathi Stotram, Saraswathi Ashototaram.
Sholakas are recited while performing the puja.
Sweets and neivedya prepared are shared with neighbors, relatives and friends.
A kannika (young girl) is invited and she is given lunch and new clothes on the first day. Some people do the Kannika Pooja it on all nine days.
The lamp is diffused after the puja daily.
The puja concludes on the ninth day evening.

How to Perform or Observe Navratri Vrat?


Navratri Vrat or Navaratri Vratam is an important fast observed by Hindus during Ashvin (September – October). It is believed that those devotees who perform Navratri fasting will find happiness on earth and will receive ‘moksha.’ Legend has it that, how to observe the Navarathri Vrat was once narrated by Goddess Durga to one of her ardent devotee. The Vratam is observed by both men and women and Navratri mantra is repeated during the period.
Navratri Fast
The Navratri fast is observed from the first day to the ninth day of Ashvin month. People take bath in the morning and evening during this period and some even drink water only after the ritual bath in the morning.
Most devotees take only a single meal during the day. Non-vegetarian food is totally avoided. Some people confine to milk and fruits during the nine days.
Some devotees only observe fast during three days i.e., first fast during any one of the first three days and second fast during any one of the next three and last in any one of final three days.

How to perform the rituals?
A Kalash is prepared at home and the water is changed daily for nine days. The kalash is placed on grains on raised platform or in the Puja room. Goddess Durga is worshipped during the first three days, Goddess Lakshmi for the next three days, and Goddess Saraswathi during the last three days. (Some people make clay figures of the Goddesses during the period).
Each day fresh flowers and fruits are offered to the Goddess. Arati is performed and bhajans are recited.
The Mantras and Bhajans to be recited
Devi Mahatmya (Durga Saptashati) and Sri Lalita Sahasranama are recited during the period. The important Navratri mantra is ‘Aaim hreem kleem chamundayai vichche.’
Some devotees conduct special homas and pujas during the period.
On the ninth day, all books, pen and whatever implements that a person uses for his/her livelihood is worshipped and is not touched on the day.
On the tenth day, that is the Vijayadashami day in South India, especially in Kerala, young children are initiated into the world of learning.
There are no hard and fast rules for any fasting in Hindu religion. There is always scope for flexibility. Some people just abstain from non-vegetarian food during the period. Some people just visit temples all the nine days. Some people read Bhagavad Gita or other holy books during the period.



Nine Goddesses of Navratri – The Nine Goddess worshipped during Navaratri..


Nine Goddesses of Navratri are collectively known as Navdurga and are mentioned in the Devi Mahatmya and Durga Saptashati. The Nine Goddesses worshipped on each nine-day of Navaratri are incarnations of Goddess Shakti. The nine goddess worshipped are Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kala Ratri (Kaalratri), Maha Gowri and Siddhidayini.
Maa Shailaputri – Goddess Worshipped on the first day of Navratri
‘Shail’ means mountains and ‘Putri’ means daughter. She is also known as Parvati or Hemavati

Shailaputri is believed to be the rebirth of Sati, the daughter of Daksha and the wife of Lord Shiva. In her second birth she is Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya and later she became the consort of Shiva. This is one of the very first forms of Shakti and is closely associated with Lord Shiva.
Maa Brahmacharini – Goddess Worshipped on the second day of Navratri
Here Brahma means ‘one who constantly meditates on the Supreme Being’. Brahmacharini is highly pious and is a peaceful form or is in meditation. She is also known as Tapashcharini, Aparna and Uma.

This form of Durga is related to the severe penance undertaken by Sati and Parvati in their respective births to attain Lord Shiva as husband. Some of the most important Vratas observed in different parts of India by women is based on the strict austerities followed by Brahmacharini.
Maa Chandraghanta – Goddess Worshipped on the third day of Navratri
Her name Chandraghanta comes from the crescent moon worn by her on the head.


This is a terrible aspect of Goddess Shakti and is roaring in anger. This form of Durga is completely different from earlier forms and shows when provoked she can be the terrible or malevolent.
Maa Kushmanda – Goddess Worshipped on the fourth day of Navratri
The name Kushmanda consists of three words. ‘Ku’ means ‘a little’, ‘Usma’ means ‘energy’ and ‘Anda’ means ‘the cosmic egg or universe.’ She is also known as Ashtabhuja.

Goddess Shakti is very happy in this incarnation and it is believed that the eternal darkness ended when she smiled. And this led to the beginning of creation.
Maa Skanda Mata – Goddess Worshipped on the fifth day of Navratri
Skanda is one of the names of Subrahmanya or Lord Muruga or Kartik – the General of the Army of the Devas and the most handsome God. Skanda Mata is the mother of Kartik. She is also known as Padmasana.

This the motherly form of Durga and she is benevolent.
Maa Katyayani – Goddess Worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri
She is called Katyayani because she was born as the daughter of Sage Katya of Katya clan.

This is the daughter form of Durga. Here is she a loving daughter. She is epitome of love but won’t hesitate to rise up in anger to defend righteousness and Dharma.
Maa Kalaratri – Goddess Worshipped on the seventh day of Navratri
Kalaratri is the one who destroys ignorance and removes darkness. She is also known as Shubhamkari.

In this form she is believed to have licked the blood of demon Rakta Beeja who had the capacity to bring out thousand demons from a drop of blood spilt from his body.
This is the most violent form of Durga. This form primarily depicts that life also has dark side – the violent Mother Nature and creates havoc and removes all dirt.
Maa Mahagauri – Goddess Worshipped on the eighth day of Navratri
Mahagauri means one clean and bright like a ray of lightning.

This is the form of Mata Parvati when she did penance to get Shiva as her husband. It is believed that due to the intense Tapas performed by her without moving caused soil and dust to collect on her body. Lord Shiva cleaned her with water from Ganga. Purity is depicted in this form of Durga.
Maa Siddhidatri – Goddess Worshipped on the ninth day of Navratri
In this form Mother Goddess provides ‘Siddhi’ or knowledge.

In this form Durga removes ignorance and she provides the knowledge to realize That or Brahman. She is surrounded by Siddhas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Demons and Gods who are worshipping her. The Siddhi that she provides is the realization that everything is Supreme Being or Brahman.



Story of Navratri and Durga Puja in Hindu Mythology – Durga slaying Mahishasura..


The story associated with Navratri and Durga Puja is found in the Markandeya Purana. The chapters 81 to 93 in the Markandeya Purana talks about the slaying of demon Mahishasura or Mahisha by Durga and it is referred as Devimahatmya and is recited during the Navaratri and Durga Puja. It symbolized the victory of good over evil.

Devi-Mahatyma extols the greatness of Durga in 700 hymns grouped into 537 sections and therefore it is also known as Durga Sapta Sati. It details the exploits of the goddess in her three major forms: Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati, representing the three fold energy: strength, wealth and wisdom. The most famous episode is Durga killing Mahishasura.

Birth of Mahishasura
Legend has it that two sons of Danu called Rambha and Karambha performed penances to gain more powers. Rambha performed the austerities by standing amidst five ritual fires called Panchagni and Karambha by standing in neck-deep in water.

Indra, the lord of the gods, felt threatened by such intense austerities and took the form of a crocodile and killed Karambha. Rambha, who came to know about his brother’s death, increased the intensity of his austerities and won several boons from gods like great brilliance, beauty, invincibility in war. Most importantly, the boon that he will not be killed by humans or Gods or Asuras (demons).

After receiving the boon, he was roaming in the garden of Yaksha and there he fell in love with a female-buffalo. To express his love Rambha took the form of a male-buffalo and copulated with the she-buffalo. But soon a real male buffalo discovered Rambha in the garden and killed him.

Rambha’s inflated ego made him not to ask the boon of invincibility from animals. And an animal happened to be the reason for his death.

The female-buffalo, who was pregnant, decided to kill herself in the funeral pyre of Rambha. She jumped into the pyre and from the pyre sprang up a mighty asura (demon) with the head of a buffalo and human body. This was Mahishasura.

Mahishasura Defeats Gods
Mahishasura defeated the gods and the demons. He attacked the heaven and captured it and made ‘devas’ his slaves. He proclaimed that he is now Indra – the lord of the gods. The gods led by Brahma approached Vishnu and Shiva and appraised them of the situation.

Birth of Goddess Durga
The actions of Mahishasura caused intense anger in the Trimurtis. The anger emerging out of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva combined to the take the shape of a terrible form and this was Durga.

It is said that the flames of fire that gushed out of the eyes of the Trimurtis – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – formed a mountain, brilliant like a million suns. Out of this mountain, Durga took shape as the goddess more powerful than all the gods.

‘samasta devanam tejo rasi samudbhavam’ Durga is the brilliance of all the gods.

 Captivated by the awe-inspiring Durga, the gods bestowed on her their own characteristic weapons. Shiva – the trident, Vishnu – the discus, Varuna – the conch, Agni – the spear, Yama – the cudgel, Vayu – the bow, Surya – the arrows, Indra – the vajra, Kubera – the mace, Brahma – the water pot, Kala – the sword and Vishwakarma – the axe. Himavan gifted a mountain lion as her vehicle.

Goddess Durga kills Mahishasura
When the goddess was seen by Mahishasura, he fell in love with her and sought to marry her. The goddess promised to marry him, if he defeated her in the battle. A terrible combat ensued and continued for nine days. Finally, Durga assumed the terrifying form of Chandika and pinned Mahishasura down with her foot and pierced his neck with her spear and she cut his head off with her sword.

The legend about the killing of Mahisha is found in many Puranas and therefore there are slight variations in the story. The story is also found in Vamana Purana, Varaha Purana, Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana, Devi Bhagavatam and Kalika Purana....


Durga Puja 2011 Dates...


This post primarily meant to provide the Durga Puja 2011 dates. The Durga Puja traditionally begins on the Mahalaya in Ashwin month, a day when Chandi Stotram is recited as an invitation for Goddess Durga to descend to earth. In 2011, Mahalaya is on September 27 (in Bengali Calendars). Durga Puja festivities and rituals begin on the Maha Saptami day.


October 2, 2011 – Maha Shashti

October 3, 2011 – Maha Saptami

October 4, 2011 – Maha Ashtami or Mahashtami

October 5, 2011 – Mahanabami or Mahanavami

October 6, 2011 – Vijaya Dasami or Vijayadashami


On the Shashti day, Kalash is prepared and it is kept in the house and with it begins rituals and celebrations.


Mahalaya is also the day when Shradh is offered to the departed souls.


Durgashtami – Importance of Durga Ashtami..



Durgashtami, or Durga Ashtami, is the eight day of the Navaratri and Durga Puja celebrations. Durgastami is also known as Mahashtami and is one of the important days of Durga Puja and a fasting is undertaken by many people. Weapons of Goddess Durga are worshipped on the day and it is known Astra Puja. In 2011, the date of Durga Ashtami is October 4. The day is also known as Virashtami as there are displays using arms or martial arts. It is one of the most important day for Goddess Worship in Hindu religion.
There is also a belief in some regions that Goddess Kali appeared from the forehead of Durga on this day to annihilate Chanda and Munda and Rakthabija. During the Durga Puja rituals on Mahashtami day the 64 Yoginis and Ashtanayikas – the eight consorts – of Durga are also worshipped.
The eight consorts of Durga, also known as Eight Shaktis, are interpreted differently in different regions of India. But ultimately all the eight goddesses are incarnations of Shakti with different aims. Sometimes they are also an attempt to give form to a particular aspect of Shakti.
The Ashtanayikas that are worshipped during Durga Puja are Brahmani, Maheswari, Kameswari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani and Chamunda.
Numerous minor deities including many attendants and guards of Durga are worshipped on the day.
A fast is observed by staunch Durga devotees on Durga Ashtami. Both men and women observe the fast. Shakti temples conduct special pujas on the day and are visited by millions of devotees.
Durgashtami day ends with Sandhi puja, which overlaps into the next day which is the Mahanavami day.


Maha Navami 2011 – Durga Puja Mahanavami 2011 Date..


Maha Navami is observed on the ninth day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Ashwin month. Maha Navami 2011 date is October 5. It is the ninth and the final day of nine-day Navratri Festival. Mahanavami is also the penultimate day of Durga Puja.

The rituals associated with Navratri Maha Navami vary from region to region. In South India, Maha Navami is observed as Ayudha Puja. All books, utensils and tools are kept for puja.

Maha Navami rituals are the final rituals associated with Durga Puja. The next day is Durga Murti Visarjan or immersion. A major bhog is held on the day and Prasad is offered to Goddess Durga. Food items prepared on the day is shared by devotees.

In some regions, animal sacrifice is held on the day. But this ritual is discouraged by many people today and is also banned by the government. But it is still held in rural regions and famous Durga Mata and Kali Mata Temple.

Vijayadasami 2011..

Vijayadasami is the last day of the 10-day Dasara festival and the day after the nine-day Navratri festival. The murtis of Goddess Durga are immersed on the day. Vijayadasami 2011 date is October 6. Vijaya Dasami is observed as Vidayarambham in Kerala. Saraswati Puja comes to an end in many regions with Saraswati Balidan Puja. Vijayadasami 2011 date was October 6.

Symbolically, Vijayadasami is the victory of Good over Evil – Goddess Durga annihilating Demon Mahisha and Lord Ram defeating Ravana. 

Symbolically, these wars are the prolonged struggle against the ego and ignorance in each human being. After the struggle there is the day of new beginning – Vijaya Dasami.

Goddess Durga Murtis worshipped during Durga Puja are immersed in water on the day.



Dasara 2011 date

Dasara is observed on the tenth day of the waxing phase of moon in Ashwin month. Dasara 2011 date is October 6. Dasara marks the end of the Navratri festival and Durga Puja. Symbolically, Dasara is the victory of good over evil. The most colorful and popular Dasara festival takes place in Mysore in Karnataka and in North India.

In Karnataka, especially in Mysore, Dasara festivals are held for 10-days and the final day celebrates the victory of Goddess Chamundi or Goddess Chamudeswari over Demon Mahishasura. Here the 10-day festival is known as Dasara – not just the final day.

In North India, Dasara is believed to be the day when Lord Ram annihilated Ravana. On the final day of Dasara celebrations, huge effigies of Ravana, Kumbakarna and Meghnath are burned.

Dasara is also observed as Vijaya Dasami in many regions in India. There is only a change in name – both the festival marks the victory of good over evil. In Bengal, Goddess Durga immersion or Visarjan takes place on the day.












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