Navaratri or the nine Day period celebrating the Shakti or Mother Goddess in various forms is celebrated four times a year.
The Navaratri s is as follows – Magha Navaratri, Vasantha Navaratri, Ashad Navaratri and the Ashwin Navaratri. The two navaratri s which are not really known to much people are the Magh Navaratri and the Ashad Navaratri as they are basically observed and meant for the hermits or the Sadhaks.
Let us take a look at the Magha Navaratri , and all that it entails. Though observed all over India, it is mostly observed in the Northern part of the country, like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh etc.
- Magha Navaratri or the Gupta Navaratri and its dates –
Magha Navaratri is also known as Gupta Navaratri or Shishir Navaratri is a nine- day celebration , dedicated to the nine form of Mother Goddess or Shakti. Some are of the opinion that the Gupta Navaratri is dedicated to the Goddess Saraswati Devi. These nine days fall in the shukla Paksha of the Magha Month, which happens to be January or February. The nine days spanning these celebrations are considered to be extremely auspicious for the Tantriks, or the hermits specializing in Tantra and the holy men or the sadhaks to pursue their sadhana.
- The tantric Anusthans of Gupta Navaratri –
During these nine days extensive prayers are offered to the Goddess to invoke her and to seek her blessings. The nine days are marked by extensive reading from the Durga Sapthasati from the Markendeya Purana. Shrimad-devi Bhagwat, Devi Mahaatmya is some of the other scriptures which are read during these nine days by the tantriks. The Mother Goddess is worshipped in three forms during this Navaratri. She is the Goddess of Wisdom, the Slayer of Vices and the giver of wealth.
- The benefits that one attains by the Gupta Navaratri pujas –
The Gupta Navaratri Puja benefits are manifold. The Mother Goddess or the Goddess Durga is generally known as the Goddess of power, positive energies and benevolence. Thus we ask her for Beauty, Victory, fame and fortune and the courage to deal with everything. A very particular ritual is performed every day, along with the recitation of the Durga Saptasati. Since Goddess Durga is known to alleviate distress and for her benevolence, people are encouraged to do Jap of as much as they can do. The Navarna Mantra to do Jap on the Gupta Navaratri is as follows – “Aim hreem kleem chaamundaayai vichche”. Devotees can keep fast on all the nine days, else can fast partially by taking milk and fruits in alternative three days in the nine day period.
- Blessings sought during the Gupta Navaratri –
- The Shree kalash sthapan pujanam, Pranpratistha etc are done to seek overall happiness and prosperity.
- Prayers and fasting on these nine days, is done to solve financial problems, health and other problems.
- Apart from all the other rituals, shree Navaran Yantra Pujanam is done for the protection and end of continuous problems.
- The Vasant Panchami or the Saraswati Puja day too falls in this period and is generally celebrated for academia, arts and culture; however, the Yamatantra also initiates the tantric sect or clan, who pledge to learn the various forms of Tantra. A japa of the root mantra of Saraswati, “Ang” is said to bestow good results to the devotees.
- The seventh day of the Gupta Navaratri is known as the Achala Saptami, Saur Saptami or the Ratha Saptami. The sutya Narayana, commemorated the birthday of the Sun God; Surya. Thus, this day Arogya Saptami Vrat is celebrated to seek relief from health problems. A special tantric puja also helps people avoid an untimely death.
- The eighth day of the Gupta Navaratri is known as the BHisma Ashtami, in memory of the erudite and honest Bhisma Pitamah. Offering Tarpan with Kush, sesame or til and water is said to liberate the devotee from all sins and mitigate one of Putra Dosha and bless the worshipper with an honest and glorious child like Bhisma of Mahabharata.
- On the final ninth day, the Navami puja is conducted in all the Shakthi peeths, or places where remnants of Shakthi were found, pan India. A huge Havana is performed in front of a deity, with Durga Sapthasathi and other verses being recited.
- The Dasami kanya Puja sees nine girls below the age of ten being worshipped in the form of Goddess Durga. These young girls are presented with new clothes, toiletries and various food items.
- The devotees seek blessing from the Goddess and show their submission by chanting mantras and shlokas during this Gupta Navaratri period. According to ancient beliefs, during this Navaratri, the Goddess is pleased at the worshipper and blesses them fulfilling their wishes.