Celebrated across India, the Maha Navmi is the major day before the auspicious Vijaya Dashmi. This ninth day marks an end to the Navratri fasting and celebrates the victory of good over evil as in the case of Dussehera.
The Maha Navmi is considered so important among the devotees that worshipping on this day is considered equivalent to all the prayers and observances offered on the previous days of Durgotsava.
Although, each of the states have their own way of celebrating Sharad Navratri, what holds them together is the joy of worshipping Maa Durga, the benign deity who fought against the evil that had engulfed the entire earth.
Consequently, the ninth day of Durga Puja begins with the worship of Maa Siddhidatri. Her name is a combination of two words, Sidhi which means Perfection, while Datri means the one who gives or the giver. She is the ninth manifestation of goddess Durga.
According to Hindu Mythology, Lord Shiva prayed earnestly to Maa Siddhidatri to attain Siddhis. Our Mata being full of grace and compassion, blessed Lord Shiva with the spiritual powers or siddhis. This transformed his body into what is popularly known as the Ardhnareshwar, with half male and half female body. Thus, the charge of creation on Lord Brahma went on smoothly on the earth.
Just imagine the gravity of the task and how mercifully Maa Siddhidatri fulfilled it with her boundless love for us all, which evidently points out to her being a compassionate mother to mankind!
On Maha Navmi, Mata Durga is worshipped too. On this day, Maa Durga killed the buffalo demon, Mahishasur. She fought with the grotesque demon on the night of Navmi and killed him the next morning, which we all celebrate as Vijaya Dashmi or Dussehra.
This is the reason why Mata Durga is called Mahisasuramardini, the one who slayed Mahishasur. The day thus, marks the grand victory of Mata who symbolises good and the defeat of the demon who symbolises evil.
Significance of Maa Siddhidatri!
Maa Siddhidatri,the last manifestation of Mata Durga, sits on a lotus flower with her mount being- the lion. She has four hands in which she holds a lotus flower, a Shankha, chakra and a gada. Maa is always draped in red coloured clothes.
Maa Siddhidatri gives all kinds of siddhis to her devotees. She blesses everyone with health, wealth and prosperity. She removes the ignorance of her people and gives them a true insight of things.
Maa Siddhidatri even grants knowledge to those who seek her with all their might. She also blesses the devotees with immense success in their lives.
Maha Navmi being a very important day, is started with Kanya Puja in which nine girls aged between five to nine years are offered homage along with the holy meal. With them, a boy is also worshipped in some parts of the country, who signifies the manifestation of Lord Bhairav, the brother of Maa Durga who promised to protect her no matter what.
First and foremost, Kalash puja is offered to Maa Siddhidatri, followed by chanting the mantra-
“Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Maa Siddhidatri Rupena Samsthita
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah”
In certain places, these mantras are chanted nine times. In the puja, nine different types of flowers, fruits and dry fruits are also offered to Mata. At the end, aarti is done and all the nine girls are taken to conclude the puja.
In South India, the festival is celebrated as Shastra Puja, which is dedicated to Maa Saraswati while, in Western India, Navmi is celebrated by installing a holy pot which is called Garbo. This symbolises a womb. This Garbo is lit with diyas which are symbolic of a soul.
Different places with different traditions for Navratri adds a little more icing in the grand celebration of our much-awaited festival!
Being the last day of Navratri, this day is celebrated with much frolic and fervour. Different types of food items make up the bhog that is offered to he deity to evoke her blessings on one’s life.
On Navmi, people offer Kheer and Panchamrit to the Maa Siddhidatri to appease her. She is also offered coconut as a bhog, which symbolises life.
With the prepared bhog, what actually adds up to the day, is the sheer devotion and dedication that all are filled with, that makes the festival one of the most revered amongst all!
Waiting from days and even months, Durga Puja always casts a magical spell on the people across the nation. The time of merriment, coming together and sharing happiness is what is the essence of our Indian traditions and customs.
The victory of good over evil reinforces people’s belief that bad days too will pass and those who are following the righteous path will be rewarded by the almighty but the ones who go astray will be punished by the Lord.
Being a harvest festival, the Durgotsava also holds a special place in our lives that shows the motherly love of Maa Durga for each and every living soul residing in this world.
The beautiful pandals with idols of Maa Durga carved out beautifully, shows the indispensable part that all the deities are given in the Indian culture. The love and respect towards the supreme being mentioned in our holy scriptures further marks an edge to our adherence to God.
Surely, one of the grandest festivals of India and the one close to our hearts, the Navratri instills a feeling of hope and adds much more happiness and colour in the usual dull life of ours.