The word Navami is the Sanskrit word for Ninth. Maha Navami as such refers to the ninth day of the Durga Puja, which is also known as Navratri or Durgotsav in certain parts of the country.
The day is considered to be especially significant by devotees (hence the suffix Maha which according to the Sanskrit language means Great). Devotees often observe a fast on this day and perform many rites and rituals.
Dates of Maha Navami in the next five years according to the modern day calendar:
Maha Navami is generally celebrated in the month of Ashwin in the Shukla Paksha (bright phase of the moon) according to the Hindu calendar system. Since the calendar follows a luni solar pattern, the date keeps changing each year as per the modern day Gregorian calendar.
- In 2014, the Maha Navami date is on Friday, October 3.
- In 2015, the Maha Navami date is on Thursday, October 22.
- In 2016, the Maha Navami date is on Monday, October 10.
- In 2017, the Maha Navami date is on Friday, September 29.
- In 2018, the Maha Navami date is on Thursday, October 18
From the pages of Mythology:
Maha Navami is the ninth day of the nine days of Navratri – this being, as such, the last day of the period is given special importance. On this day different forms of the Goddess are worshipped in different regions of the country. However, the major two of these forms are the Mahishasura Mardini and the Siddhidatri. The mythological stories behind these two forms of the Goddess are discussed –
- Mahishasura Mardini is one of the fiercest forms of Goddess Durga. This is the form she took to while demolishing Mahishasura, the Demon King. Mahishasura lived in the form of a Buffallo or Mahish, and hence the name. he got very powerful and disturbed the Gods and the humans alike. The Gods prayed before Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara for remedy. The angered Gods emitted power from them, and thereby created the beautiful Goddess who was then bestowed with a lot of power and weapons by the Gods. The battle between the Goddess and Mahishasura lasted for nine days, and it is on the day of Maha Navami that the Goddess emerged victorious thereby establishing peace and virtue on Earth.
- On the day of Maha Navami, the ninth form of Durga is worshipped. She is known as Siddhidatri or one who has the power to bless with all the achievements in life. According to the ancient Hindu scriptures called the Puran, special mention is found of the eight siddhis that one should seek in life. The Markandaye Purana names the eight siddhis as Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakaamya, Ishitva and Vashitva. However, according to the Brahmavaivart Purana, it is believed that there are eighteen types of siddhis. They have been named as Anima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Mahima, Ishitva or Vashishtva, Sarvakaamvasayita, Sarvagyatva, DurShravana, Parkaayapraveshan, VaakaSiddhi, Kalpavrushatva, Shrishti, Samharkaransaamarthya, Amaratva, Sarvanyayakatva, Bhavana and Siddhi. According to the legend narrated in the Devi Bhagvata Purana, Lord Shiva worshipped Shakti and was thus bestowed with all the Siddhis.
Type of Holiday in India:
Maha Navami is not a gazetted or national holiday in India. However, people all across the various cities of the country who observe the occurrence have the option of taking a Restricted Holiday on this day to mark the occasion. Some government and private offices may remain open on this day though; however in many parts of the country holiday is observed in the offices on this day. Also, local businesses and transportation systems in the cities operate in full swing. However, certain institutions may opt to remain closed on this day.
Observances to mark the occasion in different parts of the country:
- It is believed that by the grace of the Goddess the devotees can have all their wishes fulfilled. In eastern India, Maha Navami is one of the days of Durga Puja or Durgotsav. Here the Devi is worshipped mainly in the form of Mahishasura Mardini. On this day the special ritualistic Shodhasopachar puja is performed by the devotees. A special yajna or hom (Fire Oblation or Havan) is also held in many homes and temples. Some people believe that if worship is done with proper care and rituals on this day, it gives the same result as the performing the worship for nine days. In some places Bali or Sacrifice is practices. Animal sacrifice is no longer practiced in most places, it has been replaced by vegetable or fruit sacrifice.
- In some places like Bihar, Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, Kumari or Gauri Pujan is held on this day where little girls are worshipped with much fanfare. Other forms of worship often held in different parts of the country on this day are Suvasini Puja (Worshipping the Married Woman) and Dampati puja (Worshipping a Married Couple).
- Matangi Dashamahavidya is also another form that is worshipped on this day. Along with that Mukteshwari, Saptamatrika and Ashtamatrika pujan are also performed on this day. Goddess Siddhidatri is also worshipped on this day. It is the ninth form of Durga. It is believed that a devotee can have all wishes fulfilled by worshipping Siddhidatri.
- In some Southern States of India, especially in Kerala, Ayudha Puja or the Worship of Weapons and other professional tools are performed on this day.
- In some parts of Southern India, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped on Maha Navami. This day is believed to be very auspicious to make new beginnings, and as such, people often start their children’s education on this day.
- In Andhra Pradesh, on Maha Navami Batthukamma festival is held. This is a one where mostly married women participate. This celebrates the glory of womanhood.
- In Mysore, an illustrious royal procession is held where the Royal Sword is carried on elephant back with much pomp all across the city.