Q1. Is there any compulsion that we should use only desi ghee during navratri or any other oil can also be used?
A diya used in any kind of Puja is the symbol of devotion as the light dispersing from that diya attracts the deity. The purpose of lighting a diya is to spread joy and prosperity around. As Navratri is the auspicious puja for the Hindus, the items used in the Puja should also be pure and rich in contents. Desi Ghee is considered to be the purest form which is specially made by collecting cream from whole milk. It is then heated for a long time and all the slurry and residue is then filtered. Desi Ghee is rich in contents as it is often home made. But there is no compulsion for using only Desi Ghee during Navratri. Any other vegetable oil can also be used. But avoid the usage of mustard oil in the Navratri Puja.
Q2. What can be the impact if any family member is residing abroad and not performing the rituals during Navratri (unable to avoid non-vegetarian food)?
There is no compulsion for celebrating the rituals of the Navratri festival but the best thing is to surrender before the God from the core of the heart. One needs to purify his soul by keeping himself at bay from non vegetarian foods (tamsik aahar) and should avoid alcohol and sexual activities.
Q3. Why Navratri are believed to be the most auspicious days to start a new piece of work/project?
Navratri festival fall in the Chaturmas period which is treated to be the most auspicious period and as this is the time when all God/Goddess (devi/devtas) worship Lord Vishnu, who is gone for shayan (sleep) in the ocean. These days are dedicated to Maa Durga and hence are very powerful and blissful. The person who devotes himself/herself before Maa Durga and makes prayer, his prayers are heard and because this time is of without any negative vibes and hence it is highly auspicious time and any work can be done without being afraid of anything.
Q4. What if one initiated a work during Navratri but the work gets implemented after these nine days? Will the result be the same?
There is a saying "Well begun is half done". So, there is no problem in the completion of any project after Navratri. There is no need to get afraid of the results if one has started any project during Navratri and it gets accomplished after the auspicious nine days.
Q5. Can the Navratri Puja be done at maternal home if for some reason it can't be done at in-laws house?
Parents' house or in-laws house or a temple or a river bank or any holy place is right enough to perform Navratri Puja. The main objective of the performance of rituals is to remember God which can be done at any sacred place. There are no limitations or confinements to this aspect.
Q6. What is the relevance of completing Navratri Puja on two different days i.e eighth day (asthami) and ninth day (navami)?
Basically Navratri rituals should be performed on the Ninth day because whenever we talk of Navratri, it means nine nights and hence the Puja should be accomplished on the ninth day. But there are some traditions and a set of people who believes in performing Ashtami Puja and also there is another set of people who performs Navami Puja. One should not be fussy or shouldn’t have any kind of hesitation regarding the day of completion of the Puja. Concept is to remember the God; even if the final puja is celebrated on the eighth day, it is equally beneficial. People who performs the final Puja on the eighth day are also equally blessed well by the almighty..Maa Durga!!
Q7. Why we should avoid specifically onion and garlic during Navratri?
If you have to meditate for hours at the same place or even for many days in a row in the same area, then the taste and smell of these flavors makes it difficult for you to concentrate. Secondly, onion and garlic fall under tamsik items and hence the consumption of these items should be avoided during Navratri.
Q8. Why only 9 girls and 1 boy is invited and fed on the last day of Navratri?
People observe fast of nine days during Navratri and worship Maa Durga in nine different forms. Before they complete their fast, nine young girls and one boy who are considered to be the representatives of each form of the Goddess and Bhairon Nath are invited and are offered Prasad (mainly poori, kala chana and halwa).
Q9. What if we are unable to light up "Akhand Jyoti" during Navratri?
Performing Navratri Puja signifies purification of soul, mind and body. Application of these implications is more important even if one can’t perform all the rituals properly. But if one performs (lightens the Akhand Jyoti) the rituals and does not take care of vices then there is no use of lighting the lamp for whole nine days
Q10. Why we should sow only barley during Navratri?
The sowing of barley during Navratri is the symbolic of the "first fruit”. It signifies growth, prosperity and abundance. On the first day of the Navratri, grains of barley are planted in the puja room of the house. Every day some water is sprinkled on it. On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 - 5 inches in length. After the Navratri Puja, these seedlings are submerged in water. This custom suggests a link to harvesting and is also indicates fertility. It is believed 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 was basically an agrarian economy wherein the productivity of the Land determined one's income.
Q11. Why "Kalash Sthapana” is done during Navratri?
A Kalash is believed to be a symbolic form of Maa Durga enchanting auspiciousness. Keeping the Kalash in the home invocates positivity everywhere. This Kalash must not be touched during the nine days.
Q12. What is the procedure if the flame of "Akhand Jyoti” does not remain for all nine days? Can we flame another jyoti for the remaining days?
There is a particular technique of using the thread in order to flame the "Akhand Jyoti” for Navratri. The thread must be well knitted and should be of appropriate size so that it can flame continuously for nine days. Technically knitted jyoti will definitely work for nine days and nights continuously.
Q13. Is it necessary to recite mantras of all forms of Maa Durga during nine days of Navratri? Which mantras we must recite during these nine days?
There is no hard and fast rule for reciting mantras during the nine days of Navratri. Devi Mahatmya (Durga Saptashati) and Sri Lalita Sahasranama should be recited during all the nine days. The important Navratri mantra is ‘Aaim hreem kleem chamundayi vichche.’
Q14. Why is the reduction and increase of days in Navratri?
Regional customs or moon sightings may cause variation in the days of Navratri resulting in increase and reduction of days.
Q15. Why dandia is being performed during Navratri as raas belongs to Lord Krishna but this festival is for Goddess Durga?
Dandia dance form is actually the staging of a mock-fight between the Goddess and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king, and is nicknamed "The Sword Dance". The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Durga. The true dance gets extremely complicated and energetic. Both men and women participate in for Raas Dandia. The origin of this dance performance or Raas can be traced back to the life of Lord Krishna. Today, Raas is not only an important part of Navratri but extends itself to other festivals related to harvest and crops as well.
Q16. What all colors can we wear during Navratri?
The 1st day is contributed to Maa Shailputri. She is the daughter of Himalaya and first among nine Durgas who holds trishul in the right hand and a flower in the left hand. Wearing White/Red color will be auspicious on this day
The 2nd day signifies Maa Brahamcharini. Here "Brahma" means "Tapa". The idol of this Goddess is believed to be very gorgeous giving the message of love to the whole world. There is rosary (mala) in her right hand and Kamandal in left hand. She is full with high spirits. People can wear Saffron/ Peach/ Light Yellow on the day
The 3rd day is dedicated to Maa Chandraghanta. The Goddess establishes justice everywhere and wear crescent moon on her forehead. She is charming and bright is seated on Lion and ready for going in war to fight. She is unprecedented image of bravery. Wearing White/ Red color on this day would be very fruitful for the devotees.
Dedicated to Maa Kushmanda the day represents the source of providing basic necessities to all. This form of Durga is said to be the creator of the universe. People should wear Blue/ White/ Saffron color on this day.
The fifth day of Navratri signifies Maa Skanda. The Goddess gives the gift of differentiation between right and wrong to the world. Wearing Green/ Red/ White colored clothes will be auspicious for the devotees.
The sixth day of Navratri is dedicated to Maa Katyayani. It is believed that Maa Katyayani persistently battles against the evil and deceitful entities. Red/ White color should be worn this day.
The seventh day of Navratri is dedicated to Kalratri. Kalaratri is the one of the fiercest forms of Durga and her appearance itself evokes fear. This form of Goddess is believed to be the destroyer of all demon entities. Wearing blue/ red/ white color is considered to be auspicious on this day.
The eighth day of Navratri signifies Maa Gauri aspect of Goddess Durga. Durga Ashtami Puja is held in many parts of India. Wearing Red/ Saffron/ Yellow/ White/ Pink color would be auspicious for the devotees on this day.
Dedicated to Maa Siddhidatri form of Durga the day is also observed as Mahanavami in many parts of the country. This form of Goddess Durga showers knowledge that intends in making each soul pure. People can wear Red/ White color on this day.
Q17. Why Navratri is celebrated twice in a year?
Vasant Navratri is celebrated on the beginning of summers (March-April) and Sharad Navratri on the beginning of winter (September-October). Both occasions signify major climatic changes and are believed to be sacred period for worshipping Maa Durga.
Q18. What is Sharad Navratri?
Sharad Navratri is the autumnal celebration of good harvest. Sharad Navratri is celebrated on the beginning of winter season. The festival is solely dedicated to Maa Durga who is the symbol of power. The festival is celebrated as the slaying of demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga and believed that Maa Durga diminishes all the evil entities in order to establish peace and prosperity everywhere during these nine days.
Q19. What are the rituals we should perform during Navratri?
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.
On the first day of the Navratri, 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 kalash one invocates 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.
The day begins with a recital of Sanskrit hymns by the devotees; they offer prayer to the goddess. Kumari Puja or the worship of little girls as the aspect of Maa Durga is a special part of the rituals observed in a number of traditional and household pujas.
The festival of Navratri culminates in Mahanavami. On this day Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls representing the nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped. Their feet are washed as a mark of respect for the Goddess and then they are offered food mainly consisting of kala chana, halwa and poori along with coconut pieces and dakshina (money) and Red chunri is offerd to the kanjaks.
After the nine days of Puja, on Dashami, the final day also called Vijaya Dashami, the images of Goddess Durga are carried in processions around the locality by the devotees and finally are immersed in a nearby river or lake.