Shardiya Navratri 2023: A Celebration of Devotion and Purity
The festival of Shardiya Navratri, also known as Sharad Navratri, is an auspicious occasion celebrated with great fervor and devotion by Hindus around the world. This nine-night festival marks the victory of good over evil and is dedicated to Goddess Durga in her various forms. Shardiya Navratri is observed in the Ashwin month of the Hindu calendar and holds significant cultural and religious importance. In this article, we will delve into the details of Shardiya Navratri, its significance, rituals, and what to do and avoid during this sacred period.
The Significance of Shardiya Navratri
Shardiya Navratri is celebrated with immense reverence and devotion because it signifies the divine presence of Goddess Durga on Earth. According to Hindu mythology, during these nine days and nights, Goddess Durga battles the demon Mahishasura, ultimately triumphing over evil. Each day of Navratri is associated with one of her nine forms, and devotees offer prayers and perform rituals to seek her blessings.
The Rituals and Observances
Setting Up the Home Shrine
One of the central rituals of Shardiya Navratri is the installation of a home shrine. Devotees clean and decorate a designated area of their homes, often the puja room, and place idols or images of Goddess Durga and her nine forms. The shrine is adorned with flowers, incense, and lamps, creating a divine ambiance.
Lighting the Akhand Jyoti
During Navratri, an Akhand Jyoti, a continuous flame, is lit in the home shrine. This sacred flame symbolizes the eternal presence of the divine and is kept burning throughout the nine days and nights. It is a powerful representation of purity and spirituality.
Special Puja and Archana
Devotees perform special pujas and archanas (ritual offerings) to each form of Goddess Durga. These rituals involve chanting of mantras, offering flowers, fruits, and sweets to the goddess, and seeking her blessings for health, prosperity, and protection.
Vijaya Dashami – The Grand Conclusion
On the tenth day, known as Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra, the idols of Goddess Durga are immersed in water bodies, signifying the departure of the goddess to her heavenly abode. This day also commemorates the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.
What to Do and Avoid During Shardiya Navratri
While celebrating Shardiya Navratri, it is essential to observe certain customs and traditions to maintain the sanctity of the festival.
Avoid Cutting Nails and Hair
Devotees should refrain from cutting their nails and hair during Navratri. It is believed that doing so can bring inauspiciousness and negate the positive energy of the festival.
Avoid Leather Products
Using leather items is discouraged during Navratri. Leather is considered impure, as it is derived from animal hide, and its presence in the home during this sacred period is seen as inauspicious.
Maintain Purity and Sattvik Diet
Navratri emphasizes purity and sattvik (vegetarian) food. Non-vegetarian food, garlic, and onions are avoided during these nine days to maintain a clean and spiritually uplifting environment.
Abstain from Consuming Lemon
It is a common belief that cutting or consuming lemons during Navratri is inauspicious and can lead to negative consequences. Therefore, lemons are best avoided during this time.
Shardiya Navratri is a time of devotion, purity, and spiritual growth. It is an opportunity for devotees to connect with the divine, seek blessings, and reflect on the triumph of good over evil. By following the rituals and customs associated with Navratri, individuals can experience a sense of inner peace and prosperity.