Maha Navami – The Final Night of Navaratri Celebrations
Maha Navami, which means ‘the great ninth day’, is a part of the Navaratri festival. Navami means ‘ninth lunar day’, and MahaNavami is the most important day of Navaratri celebrations that last for nine nights and ten days.
Sharad Navratri falling on the Shukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the Hindu lunar month Ashwin (September or October in Gregorian calendar) is one of the major Hindu festivals. This festival spans from the Pratipada (the phase after the new moon) to Dashami (the tenth lunar phase) and is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India. Commonly, it is a festival dedicated to Mother Goddess or Devi Durga, also known as Devi Sakthi. The celebrations are a commemoration of Goddess Durga’s victory over the demon Mahishasur, symbolizing the victory of good over evil.
According to the belief, the fight between Goddess Durga and the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasur lasted for nine days. It was on Navami day that the goddess took the form of Mahishasurmardini and made the final assault that killed him. So, the ninth day is the final day before the goddess wins over the evil. The occasion of Maha Navami is considered as the eve of starting anything new on Vijaya Dashami (the tenth lunar day).
Maha Navami 2021 is on October 14 Thursday
Maha Navami 2021 Important Timings
Sunrise : October 14, 2021 6:27 AM
Sunset : October 14, 2021 5:58 PM
Navami Tithi Starts : October 13, 2021 8:07 PM
Navami Tithi Ends : October 14, 2021 6:52 PM
Sandhi Puja Muhurta : October 14, 6:28 PM – October 14, 7:16 PM
Ashwina Navratri Parana on Friday, October 15, 2021
Maha Navami is the third and final day of Durga Puja. Navami Homa – a significant ritual during Durga Puja is performed on Maha Navami. The best time to perform Homa is at the end of Navami Puja. It is important to note that if Ashtami and Navami merge before Sanyakal on Ashtami Tithi, then Ashtami Puja and Navami Puja, including Sandhi Puja, are done on the same day. Depending on the starting time of Navami Tithi, sometimes the Maha Navami Puja and Upavas are done on the previous day, Ashtami Tithi. However, Durga Balidan is always done on Uday Vyapini Navami Tithi. The most appropriate time to perform Balidan on Navami is Aparahna Kaal.
Variations in Worship & Celebrations
Maha Navami, also called Durga Navami, is the 9th day of the Hindu festival of Navaratri or Durga Puja that is celebrated all over India and by the Hindu diasporas spread across the world. What’s interesting is that the Navratri celebrations and rituals followed in various regions in India are different.
Ideally, the nine days of Navratri are dedicated to the worship of nine different manifestations of Goddess Durga—Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandharghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri. So, most people on Maha Navami worship the ninth form Goddess Siddhidatri. But, there are variations, as in the case of southern regions of India, where Goddess Saraswati—the deity of knowledge and wisdom is worshipped on this day.
In parts of Northern and Eastern India, Kanya Puja is a major Navratri ritual observed on the day of Maha Navami. This involves inviting nine young girls to home and worshipping them as nine different forms of Goddess Durga. The goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswathi and the gods Ganesha and Karthikeya are also worshipped on Maha Navami in some of these regions.
In West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Tripura, Jharkhand, and Bihar, Maha Navami is celebrated with great fervor and devotion. It is celebrated as the third day of Durga Puja in the Eastern states, where large Pandals (tents) are erected, which have beautifully decorated idols of the goddess in her Mahishasuramardini avatar. Maha Navami marks the culmination of the famous Durga Puja celebrations in West Bengal.
In Western India, especially in Gujarat, playing Garba (an ethnic dance form) is an important part of Maha Navami. In the Southern regions of India, Maha Navami is mainly dedicated to the worship of Goddess Saraswati. Ayudha Puja – the worship of implements, Pusthaka Puja –the worship of books and other study materials, Suhasini Puja, etc., are some of the important Maha Navami rituals followed in South India.
Maha Navami Significance
Maha Navami – the ninth day of the 10-day Navratri festival is considered highly auspicious. The Navratri celebrations are a commemoration of the nine-day battle of Goddess Durga against the demon Mahishasur and her ultimate triumph. This legend is symbolic of the battle between good and evil that takes place in the world around us and in our minds.
As per the legend, on the ninth day (Navami) of the battle, Goddess Durga took the form of Mahishasuramardini and made the final attack on the Buffalo demon which eventually killed him the next morning. So, on Maha Navami, Goddess Durga is also worshipped as Mahishasuramardini, which means ‘the slayer of Mahishasur’. Maha Navami is also considered as the eve of starting anything new on Vijaya Dashami/Dussehra.
Maha Navami Puja is believed to be the most auspicious Navratri ritual, which is equivalent to the observances on all nine days of Navaratri. Some people also believe that those who observe the days of Durga Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Vijaya Dashami do not really need to observe any other festival.
From the astrological point of view, worshipping the goddess on Maha Navami can nullify the bad effects or doshas of planets viz. Mars, Saturn, Rahu, and Moon. People who suffer from enemies, legal battles, disputes, and other adversaries are advised to worship Durga Devi on the day of Maha Navami.
Maha Navami also holds great importance for the Vaishnavas and the occult among the Saktheyas. In Tirumala Temple, the Brahmotsav is celebrated to honour Lord Balaji (Vishnu) on this day.
Various Maha Navami Rituals
India is a nation of diversities, and one could see this in the celebrations of Maha Navami too. It is an occasion popular all over India, but the celebrations differ from state to state.
In some northern and eastern states
, Kanya Puja, also known as Kanya Pujan or Kanjak, is observed on this day. It involves worshipping nine young girls who haven’t hit puberty as nine manifestations of the goddess Durga. The belief is that young girls are representations of the divine femininity (Goddess Shakti/Durga) on earth. Devotees invite nine girls to their homes by washing their feet and worship them with kumkum, sandalwood paste, incense sticks, and chanting of mantras. After that, specially prepared food items (mostly halwa puri and chane) and new clothes are offered to them as tokens of love. In some regions, a boy is also worshipped along with the nine girls. In this ritual, the boy is treated as a manifestation of Lord Bhairav, the brother of Goddess Durga.
In the eastern states
of India, Maha Navmi is celebrated as the third day of Durga Puja. The festivities are particularly high in the states of West Bengal Assam, Odisha, Tripura, Jharkhand, and Bihar. The celebration kick starts with Mahasnan (holy bath), followed by special observances called Shodashopachar Puja. In some of these regions, the deities Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Karthikeya are also worshipped along with Goddess Durga. In West Bengal, Maha Navami marks the culmination of the Durga Puja festival, which is observed with great devotion and fervor. As part of the Durga Puja celebrations, large tents called ‘’pandals’’ are erected, which have beautifully sculpted idols of the goddess in the Mahishasuramardini avatar. Distribution of sweets and gifts, chanting of Devi Mahatmya, which details the legends of the goddess, and visiting the pandals and temples with family are parts of Durga Puja celebrations. On the day of Maha Navami, all these festivities will reach their peak. The celebrations conclude on Dashami – the tenth day with the visarjan ritual, immersion of installed Goddess idols into water bodies.
Moving to the southern parts of India
, one would see different rituals and observations on Maha Navami. Ayudha Puja or Shastra Puja is an important ritual followed in most of the southern states. It’s a ritual dedicated to Goddess Saraswati on which tools and implements used for work and study are worshipped along with the goddess. In simple terms, it is the worship of one’s own profession or the implements that help one to earn his livelihood. So, books, stationery, musical instruments, mechanical tools, machines, vehicles, computers etc., are cleaned and worshipped on this day. Goddess Saraswati is the deity of wisdom and knowledge; so, the occasion of Maha Navami holds high significance for students. Books and other study materials arranged alongside the picture or idol of the goddess are worshipped on this day. Vidyarambham – the ritualistic introduction of children into the world of knowledge is a major tradition followed in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is usually observed on the day of Vijaya Dashami, during which children of age 2 – 4 are introduced into the world of letters with the blessings of the goddess.
Suhasini Puja is another ritual observed on the day of Maha Navami in some regions of South India. It’s a Puja ritual performed by married women who are considered as a symbol of Maha Shakti. In some areas of Andhra Pradesh, the Batthukamma festival is observed. The name of this ritual is inspired by a beautiful flower. It’s a ritual celebrating the glory of womanhood during which women dressed in new clothes arrange flowers in a typical seven-layer conical shape and is offered to Goddess Gauri. In Karnataka, Maha Navami is the day before Dussehra. In the city of Mysore, the day is celebrated with an exuberant custom of worshipping and carrying the Royal sword in a procession involving illustrated elephants and camels.
In the western regions of India
, there is a Navratri tradition of installing a holy pot called Garbo at homes. It is symbolic of the womb and is lighted with diyas, which symbolize the soul. In the state of Gujarat, the dance forms Garba and Dandiya Raas are played on the day of Maha Navami.
The rituals associated with Navratri and Maha Navami vary from state to state in India. Though the people in various regions observe the festival with different traditions and customs, their fundamental belief remains the same, which is the worship of divine femininity Goddess Sakthi/Durga and her various forms. The legend of Goddess Durga slaying Mahishasur is symbolic of the victory of good over evil and the supremacy of knowledge over ignorance.