Chaitra navratri, also known as Vasant Navratri or Ram Navratri, is a 10-day festival dedicated to Goddess Tara of Dus-Mahavidya. In the year 2016, Chaitra or Vasant Navratri will be from 8th April 2016 to 16th April 2016. These are very auspicious days for the tantriks, sadhaks for saadhna and also for any other specific tantrik pooja to resolve the materialistic problems.
During these Chaitra or Ram navratri auspicious days, extensive prayer is offered to request earnestly Goddess Durga for blessings. In the period of Navratri consecrated chants of Durga Saptashati are done which is a part of Markandeya Purana. The mantras in the book narrate how Goddess Durga was empowered and provided with divine weapons by our Trinity of Gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) to decimate Mahishasura and various other demons. Vamtantra conducts tantrik anusthan of Shri Durga saptshati, Shrimad-devi Bhagwat, Devi Mahaatmya and other texts invoking Goddess Durga are cited by vamtantra during this period of nine days.
By keeping fasts, chanting shlokas and mantras, the devotees show their regard for the Goddess. It is believed that during Navratri, the Goddess promptly heeds to devotees and fulfill wishes. She is worshipped in the three forms of the divine femininity, as the remover of vices, as the bestower of wealth and prosperity and as the Goddess of wisdom.
It is celebrated with primary intention to propitiate Shakti and to bestow upon us all wealth, prosperity, knowledge both sacred and secular, and all other required positive energies. Goddess Durga is known for alleviation of distress; showing great kindness toward the distressed.A particular ritualistic worship of the Goddess is performed daily, along with the recitation of the Durga Saptashati.
Navratri Vrat or Navaratri Vratam
Navratri Vrat or Navaratri Vratam is an important fast observed by Hindus. 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. One must carefully work upon his/her aahar (food), vyavhaar (behaviour) and acharan (character) during these sacred days.
Aahar - One should always avoid non vegetarian foods and consuming "Satvik" food like fruits, Kutu Ka Aata, Singara Ka Aata, Curd and Potatoes is considered to be auspicious. Usage of Onion and Garlic should be avoided.
Vyavhaar and Acharan - During Navratri festival all devotees should worship Maa Durga with spiritual emotion.
Get your house cleaned and ready. You are inviting Goddess into the home. Usually this is done on the Amavasya, a day before the beginning of Navratri.For performing the Navratri Pooja, you need to wake up early in the morning. Get up sharp at the sunrise.Take bath and wear laundered clothes. Sprinkle 'Gangajal' all over the Puja room.Keep 'deep' at the left side of the deity.Light the 'Akhand Jyot'. Keep in mind that you should not leave the house vacant if you are lighting the 'Akhand Jyot'. Someone must stay back at home.
On the right hand side of the idol, keep incense sticks etc. Now, offer sandalwood powder and some fresh grass,fresh flowers to the Goddess. Then, offer the sari or dupatta to the Goddess. Keep yourself prepared to do the Puja with full devotion and concentration. Keep the kalash and coconut as well. Lay the mat and sit in an upright position in front of the deity. Light the 'deep'. Ring the bell or blow the 'Shankh'. Place some sweets in front of the Goddess. Next, offer 'paan' with a clove placed on it. If you are married, then offer two such paans. Perform 'havan' using this mantra- "Om aing hreeng kleeng chamundaya vichche namah". Give aahuti for 11 times. Fold your hands and pray. At last, offer prasad and do aarti of Goddess Durga. Sing the "Kshama Prarthana" of the 13th chapter of sacred Durga Saptshati and conclude the Puja. Pray with whole heart.The Durga Saptashati book should be kept carefully and respectfully.
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.
On the first day of the Navaratri, a small bed of mud (taken from any auspicious place) is prepared in the puja room of the house and barley seeds are sown over it. On this Bed a Kalash made of Earthen/ Copper is kept and filled with water. Above the pot a bowl filled with rice is kept. A dry Coconut wrapped with mango leaves is then kept over this Kalash. This Kalash is believed to be a symbolic form of Goddess Durga. By keeping Kone invocate the goddess in the Kalash.
On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 - 5 inches in length. After the puja, these seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from god. This Kalash must not be touched during the nine days. One diya is lit close to this Kalash which is supposed to burn endlessly for nine days. This is known as Akhand Jyoti.
Many people believe that the length of the Shoots determines the Quantum of income that they will have in coming six months. This belief could have been because India is basically an agrarian economy wherein the productivity of the land determined one's income.