Thursday, October 2, 2008

Shree Ganesh Aarti

Jai Ganesha Jai Ganesha Jai Ganesha Deva
Maata Jaaki Parvati Pitaa Mahadeva

Ladoowan Ka Bhog Lage Sant Karen Sevaa
Jai Ganesh Deva

Eka Dant Dayavant Chaar Bhujadhari
Maathe Par Tilak Sohe Muse Ki Sawaari

Paan Chadhe Phool Chadhe Aur Chadhe Mevaa
Jai Ganesh Deva

Andhe Ko Aankh Det Kohin Ko Kaaya
Banjhan Ko Putra Det Nirdhan Ko Maaya

Surya Shama Sharan Aaye Safal Kijye Sevaa
Jai Ganesh Deva

Maa Lakshmi Aarti

Jai lakshmi maataa, Maiyaa jaya lakshmi maataa
Tumako nishadina dhyaavata, Hara vishnu vidhaataa

Brahmaanii, rudraanii, kamalaa, Tuuhii hai jaga maataa
Suurya chandramaa dhyaavata, Naarada rishi gaataa

Durgaa ruupa nirantara, sukha sampati daataa
Jo koi tumako dhyaavata, riddhi siddhi dhana paataa

Tuuhii hai paataala basantii, Tuuhii shubha daataa
Karma prabhaava prakaashaka, Jaganidhi ke traataa

Jisa ghara mein tuma rahatii, saba sadaguna aataa
Kara sake koii kara le, mana nahin ghabaraataa

Tuma bina yagya na hove, Vastra na koii paataa
Khaana paana kaa vaibhava, Saba tumase hii aataa

Shubha guna mandira sundara, Kshirodadhi jaataa
Ratana chaturdasha tuma hii, Koii nahiin paataa

Aartii lakshmii jii kii, Jo koii nara gaataa
Ura aananda umanga ati, Paapa utara jaataa

The Fifth and final day of Diwali Festival


The fifth day is known by the name of "Bhaiya-Dooj" This day is observed as a symbol of love between sisters and brothers. It is believed that on this day Yamraj -the god of death visited his sister Yami and she put the auspicious tilak on his forehead, they ate, talked and enjoyed together and exchanged special gifts as a token of their love for each other and Yamraj announced that anyone who receives tilak from his sister on this day will be blessed. Since then it has become imperative for the brother to go to his sister's house to celebrate Bhaiya Dooj.
It is a festival for brother and sister, where sisters show their love for their brothers by putting an auspicious tilak or a vermilion mark on the forehead of their brothers and performs an aarti by showing him the light of the holy flame as a mark of love and protection from evil forces. Then its brother's turn, sisters are lavished with gifts, treats and blessings from their brothers. Sisters observe fast till they put tilak on their brother's forehead. That day they also lay a lavish cuisine, all their brothers' favorite dishes.
http://www.festivalsofindia.in/diwali/Fifth.asp

Fourth Day of Diwali

The fourth day is called Padwa or Varsha Pratipada that marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat was started from this Padwa day. Govardhan-Puja is also performed on this day in North India.As per Vishnu-Puran, the people of Gokul used to celebrate a festival in honour of Lord Indra and worshipped him after the end of every monsoon season. In a particular year the young Krishna stopped them from offering prayers to Lord Indra who in extreme anger sent a deluge to submerge Gokul. Krishna saved his Gokul by lifting up the Govardhan Mountain and holding it over the people as an umbrella. This day is also observed as Annakoot and prayers are offered in the temples. On this day people of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar build a shape of mountain with the help of cow dung and decorate them with flowers and then worship it.
This day is also observed as Annakoot meaning mountain of food. Pious people keep awake the whole night and cook fifty-six (or 108) different types of food for the bhog (the offering of food) also known as Chhappan Bhog to Krishna. In temples especially in Mathura and Nathadwara, the deities are given milk bath, dressed in shining attires with ornaments of dazzling diamonds, pearls, rubies and other precious stones. After the prayers and traditional worship innumerable varieties of delicious sweets are ceremoniously raised in the form of a mountain before the deities as "Bhog" and then the devotees approach the Mountain of Food and take Prasad from it. The offering of food to God on this day of Diwali is a reminder to Hindus of the importance of food and it is a time to be thankful to God for the bounty of nature.
Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/diwali/Fourth.asp

The Third Day of Diwali


The third day of the festival of Diwali is the most important day of Lakshmi-Puja, which is entirely devoted to the propitiation of Goddess Lakshmi. This day is also known by the name of "Chopada-Puja". The day of Lakshmi-Puja falls on the dark night of Amavasya.
Lakshmi Pooja, or the worship of the goddess of wealth, is the main event on Diwali in North and West India. It is extremely important to keep the house spotlessly clean and pure on Diwali. Goddess Lakshmi likes cleanliness, and she will visit the cleanest house first. This is also the reason why the broom is worshiped on this day with offerings of haldi and kumkum (turmeric and vermilion). Lamps are lit in the evening to welcome the goddess. They are believed to light up her path.Lakshmi Puja consists of a combined puja of five deities: Ganesha is worshiped at the beginning of every auspicious act as Vighnaharta; Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped in her three forms - Mahalakshmi (the goddess of wealth and money), Mahasaraswati (the goddess of books and learning), and Mahakali; Kuber (the treasurer of the gods) is also worshiped. It is believed that on this auspicious day Lord Krishna discarded his body. One more interesting story related to this day is of a small boy called Nichiketa who believed that Yam, the god of Death was as black as the dark night of amavasya. He on this day met Yam in person and was puzzled seeing Yam's calm countenance and dignified stature. Yam explained to Nichiketa on this day of Amavasya that by only passing through the darkness of death, man sees the light of highest wisdom and then only his soul can escape from the bondage of his mortal frame to mingle with the Supreme Power. It was then that Nichiketa realized the importance of worldly life and significance of death. Nichiketa's all doubts were set at rest and he whole-heartedly participated in Diwali celebrations.
Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/diwali/Third.asp

Second Day of Diwali

The Second day is called Narka-Chaturdashi or Chhoti Diwali that falls on the fourteenth day of the month of Ashwin. The legend related to this day is about King Bali of the nether world whose mighty power had become a threat to the gods. In order to curb his powers Lord Vishnu in the guise of a small boy visited him and begged him to give him only that much land which he could cover with his three steps. Known for his philanthropy King Bali proudly granted him his wish. So with his first step Lord Vishnu covered the entire heaven and with the second step the earth and asked Bali where to keep his third step. Bali offered his head and putting his foot on his head Vishnu pushed him down to the underworld. Though for his generosity Lord Vishnu allowed him to return to earth once a year to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance and spread the radiance of love and wisdom.
Some called this day as Chotti- Diwali. So people celebrate on a smaller scale, with fewer lights lit and fewer crackers burst. The morning after Chhoti Diwali, the women of the house make beautiful, colored rangoli in the doorway and courtyard. Tiny footprints made out of rice paste are a special feature of the rangolis made for Diwali. In Hindu homes, Chhoti Diwali celebrations involve a ritual puja to Lakshmi and also to Rama in the evening. Songs in honor of the god are sung and Aarti is performed.
Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/diwali/Second.asp

First Day of Diwali


The First day is called Dhanteras or Dhantryaodashi, which falls on the thirteenth day of the month of Ashwin. The word "Dhan" means wealth. This day has great importance for rich community. It is believed that sixteen year old son of King Hima according to his horoscope was doomed to die on the fourth day of his marriage by a snake-bite.
So, on the fourth day of his marriage his worried wife lighted innumerable lamps all over the place and laid all the ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband's boudoir.
She went on telling stories and singing songs through the night. When Yam-the god of death arrived there in the guise of a serpent the dazzle of those brilliant lights blinded his eyes and he could not enter the prince's chamber. So he climbed the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat their whole night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he went away quietly. Thus the wife saved her husband and since then this day of Dhanteras came to be known as the day of "Yamadeepdaan" and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in reverential adoration to Yam, the god of Death.
On this day at sunset, Hindus should bathe and offer a lighted deeya with Prasad (sweets offered at worship time) to Yama Raj (the Lord of Death) and pray for protection from untimely death. This offering should be made near a Tulsi tree (the Holy Basil) or any other sacred tree that one might have in their yard. If there is no sacred tree, a clean place in the front yard will suffice.
Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/diwali/First.asp

Dhanteras

Introduction

Dhanteras is celebrated by the Hindus all over India and across the world as well in the month of October-November, on the thirteenth day of the month of Ashwin. It marks the beginning of the five day Diwali celebrations.

It takes place two days before Diwali to honor Dhanyantari, an incarnation of Vishnu.




Why is Dhanteras celebrated?

Dhan means wealth and Dhanteras is of great importance to the rich trading class. Goddess Laxmi or the goddess of wealth is worshipped during Dhanteras.

The Legend



The legend of Dhanteras is a very interesting one. It revolves round the story of King Hima’s sixteen year old son.

According to his horoscope, he would be bitten by a snake on the fourth day of marriage. On that particular day, his wife kept him awake the whole night to prevent him from the snake bite.

She laid out all her ornaments and gold and silver coins at the entrance of her bedroom. She lightened the room with lamps and did not allow her husband to enter the room.

She sang the whole night and narrated stories to keep him awake.

When Lord Yama or the God of Death arrived in the guise of a serpent his eyes were blinded by the dazzle of the coins and the lights.

He sat on the heap of coin and listened to the songs and left peacefully the next morning. Thus, the young wife was successful in saving his husband from the jaws of death.

Dhanteras is also known as “yamadeepan” and the lamps are kept burning the whole night to keep away evil spirit from the homes.
Another legend that goes is that when the demons were churning out ‘amrit’ or nectar from the oceans Dhanyantari emerged form the ocean carrying a jar of elixir on the day of Dhanteras.

Celebrations
On Dhanteras Goddess Laxmi is worshipped to usher in prosperity and wealth especially among the business community.

Homes and offices are decorated on the occasion of Dhanteras and the entrances are made colourful with traditional Rangoli to welcome Goddess Laxmi. Small footprints are also drawn all over the house to welcome Goddess Laxmi.

It’s been a long tradition to buy utensils and gold and silver coins and ornaments during Dhanteras. It’s been a common trend these days to exchange gifts among friends and families on this day.

Many people set up businesses or buy cars or even set up wedding dates. Laxmi puja is performed with faith and dedication and tiny diyas or lamps are lit the whole night.

Devotional songs or bhajans are sung in praise of Goddess Laxmi. In Maharashtra, there is a custom of offering dry coriander seeds and jaggery as Naivedya. In villages cattle are worshipped by armers as they are the source of income.
Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/diwali/Rituals.asp

Rituals

Diwali is otherwise celebrated as a festival of Goddess Laxmi. It is believed that Goddess Laxmi visits everyone during the occasion and brings peace and prosperity to all. On the night of Diwali, "Lakshmi-Puja" is performed in the evening. Traditionally five pieces of ghee diyas (lamps) are lit in front of the deities. After that naivedya of traditional sweets is offered to the Goddess and devotional songs are sung in praise of Goddess Laxmi. After Diwali Puja, people light diyas (lamps) in their homes to usher in light and to clear the darkness from the world. To augur success, those involved in trade and business do pujan of their new ledgers. This is known as Sharda Pujan.
Though in major parts of India Diwali is associated with the worship of Laksmi but practice differs from region to region. For instance, in the North, Lord Rama is worshipped with great fanfare in Diwali. Also many in the North worship Gobardhana, the hillock in Braj, on this occasion. In Bengal Goddess Kali, a form of Durga and a consort of Shiva are worshipped with pomp and grandeur. So rituals differ from region to region.

On this day, there is a traditional practice (especially in Maharashtra) of taking bath before sunrise with oil and paste of gram flour and fragrant powders. There is a peculiar custom in Maharashtra to lightly pound dry coriander seeds with jaggery and offer as Naivedya. In villages cattle's are adorned and worshipped by farmers. In south cows are offered special veneration as they are supposed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and therefore they are adorned and worshipped on this day. In South India the victory of the divine over the mundane is celebrated in a very peculiar way. People wake up before sunrise to prepare blood by mixing Kumkum in oil and after breaking a bitter fruit that represents the head of the demon King that was smashed by Krishna, apply that mixture on their foreheads. Then they have an oil bath using sandalwood paste.
In Orissa, Diwali is celebrated with different beliefs and rituals. It is a ritual that calls upon the spirits of the family's forefathers. Jute stems are burnt to light up the dark path that the spirits of the ancestors take back to heaven. All members of the family hold a bundle of jute stems in their hands. Lighting their respective bundles from the flame on the rangoli, they raise them skywards chanting and prying.

Steps to Perform Puja
The puja area is first cleansed and then each deity is bathed with water then with ‘Panchamrit’ /or rose water, followed by water once more
The lamp or Deepak is placed in front of the deities.
A Panchamrit with 5 ingredients of milk, curd, ghee (clarified butter), sugar and honey is prepared.
Few mithais, snacks and fruits are placed as a prashad. Offerings of flowers, abir (red colour), sindoor (vermillion), haldi (turmeric) are made and the agarbatti (incense sticks) is lit and lamps filled with ghee.
Offerings of fruit, sweets (mithai), Mathis, Ghathia, Namakpare and offer dakshina (token money), which could be given to the poor are also prepared.
Paan (betel leaves), cloves are offered at the end. Now pray to the deities to seek their blessings.
Laxmi Pooja: Place lotus and other flowers at her feet as an offering. A silver coin is placed in front of the Goddess during the puja. Now Aarti is performed with flowers in hand (Lakshmi Aarti is sung).
Ganesh Pooja -Ganesh Puja is a must for Diwali Puja. (Lord Ganesha is to be worshipped in all pujas before any other God or Goddess.) (Ganesh Aarti is sung). After that Prasad is distributed among all and everyone goes out to burst crack.
Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/diwali/Rituals.asp

Celebrations of Diwali

Diwali is a festival synonymous with celebrations in India and is an occasion for jubilation and togetherness. This is an occasion for people of all religions. At the metaphysical level, Deepawali is a festival signifying the victory of good over evil. People believe that the latter is destroyed and reduced to ashes by fireworks. This festival is celebrated on a grand scale in almost all regions of India and is looked upon mainly as the beginning of a New Year.
On this day of Diwali (Deepavali) people light small oil lamps (called diyas) and place them around their homes, in courtyards, gardens, verandahs, on the walls and also on the roof tops. In cities, candles are substituted by diyas; and among the riches, candles are made to substitute for fashionable lights. The celebration of the festival is customarily accompanied by the exchange of sweets and lighting crackers.On the night of Diwali, all the shops & offices are decorated with electrical bulbs of various colors. They are filled to capacity in this festive season. People visit their friends and relatives and present them sweets. Many people make "rangoli" inside & outside their house. Rangoli is a pattern which is made on the floor, normally by coloured powder, but in the house it is made with paint.In the evening the family prays to Laskmi, the goddess of wealth. Then people put diyas (oil lamps) all around the house. About 8.00 pm the fireworks start. This is the time when the whole country is lit up and fireworks continue uptill midnight.In north India, Deepavali is celebrated as an auspicious occasion of Rama's homecoming from fourteen years of exile and also after defeating Ravana and his coronation as king; In Gujarat, the festival is celebrated to honour goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; and in Bengal, it is related with goddess Kali. Everywhere it is celebrated with the same spirit and signifies the renewal of life.Diwali is also celebrated outside India mainly in Britain, U.S.A., Guyana, Fiji, Malaysia, Nepal, Mauritius, Myanmar, Singapore, Srilanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Africa, and Australia among the Hindus world over. Whatever may be the legend behind the festival but people celebrate it with great enthusiasm. In this festive season people exchange sweets, wear new clothes and buy precious items for celebration and enjoyment.
Source:http://www.festivalsofindia.in/diwali/Celebrations.asp#

Legend of Diwali


Diwali is celebrated mainly for Rama's homecoming to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana and his coronation as king. The festival marks his victorious return to his kingdom along with his wife Sita, brother Laxman and great devotee Hanuman. The legend claimed that it took 20 days for Rama to return to his kingdom after defeating Ravana. The people of Ayodhya lit up their homes with oil lamps and turned the night with a light festival. From that time onwards Diwali is being celebrated to mark the Victory of Lord Ram over the evil Ravana.

Another legend said that once upon a time King Bali of the nether world mighty power had become a threat to the gods. In order to give him a lesson Lord Vishnu in the guise of a Batu Waman- a small boy- visited his kingdom. In that time King Bali was much more famous for his philanthropist cause. Keeping this in mind Lord Vishnu begged King Bali to give him only that much land which he could cover with his three steps. King Bali proudly granted Lord Vishnu’s wish. With his first step Lord Vishnu covered the entire heaven and with the second step the earth and asked Bali where to keep his third step. Bali offered his head. Putting his foot on his head Vishnu pushed him down to the underworld. In that time Lord Vishnu gave him the lamp of knowledge and allowed him to return to earth once a year to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance of humanity and spread the radiance of eternity and love. On this day people also worshipped Goddess Lakshmi as she was freed by Vishnu from the clutches of King Bali. Therefore, it is believed that the festival is celebrated in honour of Mother Laxmi.

Another legend said that, in this day of Diwali, a small boy called Nachiketa who always believed that Yam, the god of Death was as black as the dark night of amavasya. But when he met Yamraj, he was quite astonished with Yamraj's calm and stature. Yam explained to Nachiketa on this Diwali day of amavasya that by only passing through the darkness of death, man sees the light of highest wisdom and then only his soul can escape from the bondage of his mortal frame to mingle with the Supreme Power. And then Nachiketa realized the importance of worldly life and significance of death. Then he whole-heartedly participated in Diwali celebrations.


Another story is with Narakasura (a trouble-maker to the gods) who ruled the kingdom of Pradyoshapuram. He always disturbed the sages’ community in their Ashram & created havoc during the rituals. He even grabbed some territory of Aditi, (the king of Suraloka and a relative of Satyabhama, Lord Krishna's wife). Continuously harassed with this precarious approach of Narakasura along with Indra other gods pleaded Lord Krishna to protect them from the mighty Narakasura. In that time queen Satyabhama appealed to Krishna to give her chance to destroy Narakasura. Lord Krishna granted her a boon to fight with Narakasura. With Krishna as the charioteer, Satyabhama entered the battlefield and killed the Narakasura. After the death of the demon his mother Bhudevi declared to celebrate this occasion with joy and rejoice. Since then Diwali was celebrated by people every year with ardent zeal, fun and fire.

Another legend said that, on this day Mother Lakshmi emerged from the ocean of milk (Kheer Sagar). She brought with her wealth and prosperity for mankind. On that day, Lakshmi Pooja was performed to honour Goddess Lakshmi. So from that day in every year on Diwali, Hindus perform prayer and worship to Goddess Lakshmi. Many people believe that Goddess Lakshmi visit the homes of devotees on this day. Bhajans"-devotional songs in praise of Goddess Laxmi are sung and "Naivedya" of traditional sweets is offered to the Goddess.

Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/diwali/legend.asp

Diwali (Deepawali)


Introduction
ndia is a melting pot of races and religions. Every religion has its own unique style of celebration. But Diwali (Deepawali), the Festival of Light, is celebrated with fervor and gaiety among all races and religions. The festival symbolizes unity in diversity. The celebration of this five-day festival commences on Aswayuja Bahula Chaturdasi and ends on Kartika Shudda Vijiya.

Hindus all over the world celebrate Deepawali with great enthusiasm. This is a major Hindu festival honouring Mother Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth. Diwali is a holy tradition, not to be put in the shade. It symbolizes the victory of light over darkness; darkness refers to ignorance and light refers to knowledge. Celebrated joyously all over India, it is a festival of wealth and prosperity.
Deepavali is celebrated 20 days after Dussehra, on Amavasya - the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin (Aasho) in (Oct/ Nov) every year.
Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/diwali/legend.asp

Lakshmi Puja


Laxmi or Lakshmi is the Goddess of Wealth and prosperity worshipped by the Hindus all over. Lakshmi also embodies beauty, power, luxury, fertility and auspiciousness. She secures material fulfillment to her devotees. The holy name of Lakshmi is ‘Shri’ which is written on the top of most of the documents. ‘Shri’ evokes prosperity, abundance, poise, and authority.

Lakshmi also represents the plentiful aspect of nature and as earth goddess or Bhoodevi, she nurtures life. As goddess of wealth, Shreedevi, she bequeaths pleasure and fortune on her devotees. Laksmi is also said to be swarna-hasta meaning golden handed. In other words she gives riches to the community. It is believed that where people worship Lakshmi, there is wealth. Wealth does not only mean material prosperity, it also includes the nobler aspects of life, the ethical and the moral values.

She is seen on a lotus and is depicted in two postures, namely, in a standing and in a sitting position. Lakshmi took various forms like Sita and Rukmini to accompany Lord Vishnu. The eight forms of Lakshmi are worshipped and in each form she bestows one form of wealth. The Astha Lakshmis are: Aadi Lakshmi, Santhana Lakshmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Dhana Lakshmi, Dhaanya Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi, Veera Lakshmi and Aiswarya Lakshmi.

Laxmi Puja is performed to propitiate Goddess Lakshmi and to thank her for the bestowal of her blessings on the humans. This day is considered so auspicious that people try to keep their houses neat and tidy, as Goddess Lakshmi is believed to like cleanliness and she visits the cleanliest house first.
Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/Dussehra/

Navratri

Navratri
the festival of nine nights is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine forms. According to the Hindu calendar, Navratri begins from the first day of the bright fortnight of Ashwin which usually coincides with the end of the rainy season.

Durga, the divine mother, had destroyed the evil force (in the form of the demon Mahisashura) during this period.

The festival is celebrated with true devotion and purity all over the country. People from various sections of the society irrespective of caste and creed celebrate this festival by visiting temples and offering pujas at the Mother’s feet.

In some places special puja samarohas are also held by setting the images of Mother Durga on beautifully decorated pandals. Temples dedicated to Shakti also make arrangement for pujas and bratas to mark these nine days as true symbols of devotion and adoration towards the divine mother.
Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/

Dussehra


Introduction
The festival of Dussehra is an important celebration in many parts of the country. It is celebrated with great fanfare in most parts of North India, Mysore and in the form of Durga Puja in West Bengal.
Dussehra is a very popular Hindu festival, which marks the defeat of Ravana by Lord Rama. Dussehra also symbolises the triumph of warrior Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon, Mahishasura.
The 'Ramlila' - an enactment of the life of Lord Rama, is held during the nine days preceding Dussehra. On the tenth day (Dussehra or Vijay Dasami), larger than life effigies of Ravana, his son and brother - Meghnadh and Kumbhakarna are set to fire.

The theatrical enactment of this dramatic encounter is held throughout the country in which every section of people participates enthusiastically.

In burning the effigies the people are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus follow the path of truth and goodness, bearing in mind the instance of Ravana, who despite all his might and majesty was destroyed for his evil ways.

Legends
Dussehra is also known as Vijaya Dasami, because of the victory of Ram over Ravana. On this day in Satya Yug, Ram (the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu), killed the great demon and king of Lanka, Ravana.
Puranas also opined that in this day warrior Goddess Durga defeated and killed the buffalo demon Mahishasura.


Rituals
Worship of the Goddess is the oldest tradition, signifying the female deity's supremacy over the male Gods who are unable to destroy the demon.

The worship of Durga Mata has also social implications. As Goddess of war, she is a particular favourite of the Kshatriyas, the warrior caste, once constituting the ruling elite and aristocracy.

During this time people decorate the entrance of their houses with torans, and flower studded strings. The leaves of the Apta tree are collected and exchanged among friends and relatives as gold.

Dussehra Puja in India varies from place to place and is influenced by local myth and religious beliefs.

The festival is also celebrated with intense fervour and zest, in West Bengal. The vibrant festivities last for ten days, of which nine nights are spent in worship, 'Navaratri'.

The tenth day is devoted to the worship of goddess Durga, who occupies a special position in the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses. She is 'Shakti', the cosmic energy that animates all beings. Beautiful idols of the Mother Goddess are worshipped in elaborate pandals for nine days, and on the ninth day, these are carried out in procession for immersion (visarjan) in a river or pond.
Celebrations

In Himachal Pradesh, a week long fair in the hill town of Kullu, is part of the Dussehra celebrations. From the little temples in the hills, deities are brought in procession to the 'maidan' in Kullu, to pay homage to the reigning deity, Raghunathji. The celebration actually begins nearly 10 days in advance as per tradition.

In Mysore, Karnataka the Mysore palace is illuminated for a whole month during Dussehra and caparisoned elephants lead a colourful procession through the gaily-decorated streets of the city. It is the most colourful celebration of Dussehra in world. The spectacular procession taken out on this day is really enjoyable.

In Tamil Nadu, the first three days are dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity, the next three days to Saraswati, Goddess of learning and arts and the last three days to Shakti (Durga).

In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, families arrange dolls (Bommai Kolu) on artificially constructed steps and prepare an elaborate spread of lamps and flowers. Women traditionally exchange gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets.

The whole set up is put on the very first day of Navaratri. Vijaya Dashamiy is an auspicious occasion for children to commence their education in classical dance and music, and to pay homage to their teachers.

In Punjab, Navaratri is taken as a period of fasting. In Gujarat, the evenings and nights are occasions for the fascinating Garba dance. The women dance around an earthen lamp while singing devotional songs accompanied by rhythmic clapping of hands.

In northern India, the festival wears the colourful garb of Ramlila wherein various incidents from Rama's life are enacted. Ramlila draws large number of people every year. The entire night of Dussehra passes in an enthusiastic and enchanting fair like ambience and people enjoy every bit of it. After Dussehra, the excitement of the Diwali grips the whole of India.
Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/Dussehra/

Durga Chalisa

Invoke the divine blessing of Durga Ma by reading aloud Shri Durga Chalisa

Durga Chalisa
Namo Namo Durge Sukh karani,
Namo Namo ambe Dukh harani.

Nirakar hai jyoti tumhari,
Tihun lok pheli ujayari.

Shashi lalat mukh mahavishala,
Netra lal bhrikutee vikarala.

Roop Matu ko adhika suhave,
Daras karat jan ati sukh pave.

Tum sansar shakti laya kina,
Palan hetu anna dhan dina.

Annapurna hui jag pala,
Tumhi adi sundari Bala.

Pralaya kala sab nashan hari,
Tum gauri Shiv-Shankar pyari.

Shiv yogi tumhre guna gaven,
Brahma Vishnu tumhen nit dhyaven.

Roop Saraswati ko tum dhara,
De subuddhi rishi munina ubara.

Dharyo roop Narsimha ko amba,
Pragat bhayin phar kar khamba.

Raksha kari Prahlaad bachayo,
Hiranakush ko swarga pathayo.

Lakshmi roop dharo jag mahin,
Shree Narayan anga samihahin.

Ksheer sindhu men karat vilasa,
Daya Sindhu, deeje man asa.

Hingalaja men tumhin Bhavani,
Mahima amit na jet bakhani.

Matangi Dhoomavati Mata,
Bhuvneshwari bagala sukhdata.

Shree Bhairav lara jog tarani,
Chhinna Bhala bhav dukh nivarani.

Kehari Vahan soh Bhavani,
Langur Veer Chalat agavani.

Kar men khappar khadag viraje,
Jako dekh kal dan bhaje.

Sohe astra aur trishoola,
Jase uthata shatru hiya shoola.

Nagarkot men tumhi virajat,
Tihun lok men danka bajat.

Shumbhu Nishumbhu Danuja tum mare,
Rakta-beeja shankhan samhare.

Mahishasur nripa ati abhimani,
Jehi agha bhar mahi akulani.

Roop karal Kalika dhara,
Sen Sahita tum tin samhara.

Pan garha Santan par jab jab,
Bhayi sahaya Matu tum tab tab.

Amarpuni aru basava loka,
Tava Mahirna sab rahen asoka.

Jwala men hai jyoti tumhari,
Tumhen sada poojen nar nari.

Prem bhakti se Jo yash gave,
Dukh-daridra nikat nahin ave.

Dhyave tumhen jo nar man laee,
Janam-maran tako chuti jaee.

Jogi sur-muni kahat pukari,
Jog na ho bin shakti tumhari.

Shankar Aacharaj tap keenhon,
Kam, krodha jeet sab leenhon.

Nisidin dhyan dharo Shankar ko,
Kahu kal nahini sumiro tum ko.

Shakti roop ko maran na payo,
Shakti gayi tab man pachitayo.

Sharnagat hui keerti bakhani,
Jai jai jai Jagdamb Bhavani.

Bhayi prasanna Aadi Jagdamba,
Dayi shakti nahin keen vilamba.

Mokon Matu kashta ati ghero,
Tum bin kaun hare dukh mero.

Aasha trishna nipat sataven,
Moh madadik sab binsaven.

Shatru nash keeje Maharani,
Sumiron ekachita tumhen Bhavani.

Karo kripa Hey Matu dayala,
Riddhi-Siddhi de karahu nihala.

Jab lagi jiyoon daya phal paoon,
Tumhro yash men sada sunaoon.

Durga Chalisa jo gave,
Sab sukh bhog parampad pave.

Translation of Durga Chalisa in English

I bow to You O Goddess Durga, the bestower of happiness!
I bow to You O Goddess Amba, who Ends all miseries.

The radiance of your light is limitless and all pervading and all the three
realms (Earth, Heaven And the Nether World) are enlightened by Thee.

Your face is like the moon and mouth very huge. Your eyes shine with a
red glow and You have a Frightening frown.

O Mother! Your look is enchanting, the very sight of which ensures welfare
of the devout.

All the powers of the World repose in Thee and it is You who provide food and
wealth for the World's survival.

Like the feeding Mother Annapoorna, You nurture the whole universe and You are
the one Who appear like the timeless Bala Sundari (young girl of extreme beauty).

At the time of dissolution, it is You, O Mother, who destroys everything. You are the
beloved Consort of Lord Shiva, Gauri (Parvati).

Lord Shiva and all yogis always chant your praise Brahma,
Vishnu and all other Gods ever meditate on You.

You appear in the form of Goddess Saraswati too,
to grant wisdom to the sages and thus ensure their Welfare.

O Mother Amba! It was You who appeared in the form
of Narsimha, sundering the pillar.

Thus You saved Prahlad and Hiranyakashyap also went to
Heaven as he was killed by your Hands.

In the form of Goddess Lakshmi, O Mother, you appear in
this world and repose by the side of Shree Narayan.

Dwelling in the ocean of milk, O Goddess, with Lord Vishnu,
please fulfill my desires.

O Bhavani, the famous Goddess of Hingalaja is no one else but
You Yourself. Illimitable is your Glory, defying description.

You are yourself Matangi and Dhoomavati Mata. It is You who appear as
Bhuvaneshwari and Bagalamukhi Devi to bestow happiness to all.

It is You who redeem the wolrd, appearing in the form of Shree Bhairavi,
Taradevi and Chhinnamasta Devi, and end its sorrows.

Reposing gracefully uopn your vehicle, O Goddess Bhavani, You are welcome
by the brave Langour (Lord Hanuman).

When You appear in the form of Goddess Kali, with sword in one hand and a
cupel in the other, Even Time flees in panic.

Beholding You, well armed, with a Trident in your hand, the enemy's
heart aches with the sting Of fear.

You also repose in the form of Devi at Nagarkot in Kangara. Thus all the
three realms shudder in the might of your glory.

You slayed the demons like Shumbh & Nishumb and massacred the
thousand forms of the dreaded Demon Raktabeej.

When the earth was severely distressed bearing the load of the sins
of the arrogant Mahishasur.

You assumed the dreadful form of Goddess Kali and
massacred him along with his army.

Thus, whenever the noble saints were distressed,
it is You O Mother, who came to their rescue.

All the realms including the Amarpuri (divine realm) remain
sorrow-less and happy by Your Grace. O Goddess!

It is the symbol of Your glory that is burning brightly at Shree JwalaJi.
All me and women Ever worship You, O Mother!

He who sings Your glory with devotion, love, and sincerity remains
beyond the reach of grief And poverty.

He who meditates upon Your form with concentration goes
beyond the cycle of births and deaths.

All the yogis, gods and sages openly declare that without your
favour one can't establish communion with God.

Shankaracharya had performed once a special penance called
Aacharaj and by virtue of which he had subdued his anger and desire.

He ever worshipped Lord Shankar and never for a moment
concentrated his mind on You.

Since He did not realise your immense glory, all His powers
waned and then He repented hitherto.

Then He sought refuge in You, chanted Your glory and
'victory, victory, victory to Thee, O Jagadamba Bhavani'.

Then, O Primal Goddess Jagadamba Ji, You were propitiated and
in no time You bestowed Him with his lost powers.

O Mother! Severe afflictions distress me and no one except Your
Honoured Self can provide relief please end my afflictions.

Hopes and longings ever torture me. All sorts of passions and
lust ever torment my heart.

O Goddess Bhavani! I meditate only upon you Please
kill my enemies O Queen!

O Merciful Mother! Show me your favour and make me feel
happy by bestowing me with all sorts of riches and powers.

O Mother! May I be receptable of Your grace as long as I live,
ever recounting the feats of Your Glory to all.

This way, whoever sings this Durga Chalisa shall ever enjoy all
sorts of pleasures and shall attain the highest state in the end.

This page has been added on request from Ms Arti Chandani.
We welcome your suggestions.

Goddess Durga Bhajans

Aadi Divya Jyothi Mahaa Kaali Maa Namo
Devi Shakthi Mahaa Shakthi Kaali Maa Namo
Kaali Maa Namo, Sathya Sai Maa Namo
Shringa Shaila Vaasini Kaali Maa Namo
Sankata Haarini Mangala Kaarini Kaali Maa Namo
Kaali Maa Namo, Sathya Sai Maa Namo

(Oh Eternal, Effulgent Divine Light, Great Goddess Kaali, Oh Great Power, dweller of the snow-clad mountain tops, You have guarded us against pain and misery; You have brought auspiciousness into our lives. You are called by the name Kaali. You are also called by the name Sai. We bow to Thee, Divine Mother Sai.)

Akhilaandeshwari Amba Parameshwari
Sakala Jagat Ko Paalaya Maa
Sab Sukha Daayini Kashta Nivaarini
Vibhuda Vilaasini Paalaya Maa
Paalaya Maa Sai Paalaya Maa (2)

(Oh Goddess of the universe, please protect the whole world. You are the Goddess who gives mankind its happiness. You are the Goddess who removes pain and misery from all living creatures. You are the all-pervading Goddess. Protect us Mother. )

Amba Manda Haasa Vadani Manohari Sai Jagat Janani
Matha Matha Matha Jagat Janani
Jagat Janani Shubha Karini
Sathya Sai Jagan Matha

(Worship the auspicious Mother of the Universe, Mother Sai and Amba who has an enchanting face with a charming smile.)

Amba Parameshwari Akhilaandeshwari
Aadi Para Shakti Palayamaam
Tribhuvaneshwari Raajaraajeshwari
Ananda Roopini Paalayamaam

(Oh Goddess Amba (Parvati) Oh Divine Mother of the entire creation! Oh Queen of the Universe! Thy form is bliss. Thou art the nourisher, sustainer and protector.)

Amba Shankari Sashi Shekhari Parameshwari Amba
Sarveshwari Jagadeeshwari Parameshwari Amba
Sundari Guna Manjari Shiva Shankari Amba
Kaadambari Shwetambari Hari Sodari Amba

(Oh Mother, Consort of Shankar, Giver of Bliss, Thou art the universal Mother Thou art the Cause of all and Queen of this world, Oh Mother Beautiful beyond words, Thou art the Repository of all traits and dearest to Lord Shiva Universal Effulgence emanates from You and being the ultimate Power, You are clad in brilliant white The Sister of Hari, Oh Mother of the universe, Oh Mother!) sai

Ambey Bhavani Maa Jai Ambey Gauri Sai Maatha
Kasht Nivaaro Maiyya Bhakth Janonke
Sankatahaarani Maa Jai Ambey Gauri Sai Maatha
Kasht Nivaaro Maiyya Bhakt Janonkey
Parthipuri Sai Maa Jai Ambey Gauri Sai Maatha
Prem Bhaav Sey Pooja Karey Theree

(Victory to Mother Bhavani, Mother Sai. We pray to You with love. Kindly remove the difficulties of Your devotees, Oh Mother)

Ambey Janani Abhiraami
Abhayapradaayini Shiva Kaami
Ambey Janani Abhiraami
Shaambhavi Shankari Sarveshwari
Shaantha Swaroopini Shiva Shankari
Sathya Swaroopini Sai Maatha
Shaashwatha Ananda Daayini Maatha

(Hey Mother Ambe (Parvathi); The One who gives protection, Parvathi; Shambhavi, Shankari (Appellations of Parvathi), the supreme Goddess; The embodiment of peace, Parvathi; The embodiment of Truth, Mother Sai; The Mother who bestows ever lasting happiness)

Ashta Bhujangini Divya Swaroopini Kaali Kapaalini Maa Duritha Nivarini Bhava Bhaya Harini Mangalakaarini Maa Janani Shubha Janani Parthi Pureeshwari Shankari Maa (2x)

(Oh heavenly beauty, Goddess Durga, with eight arms, Mother Kaali, Kapaalini! You always help us quickly overcome our problems. You have encouraged us to overcome the fear of existence and getting entangled in the endless cycle of births and deaths. You have always brought auspiciousness into our lives. Oh Mother, Oh Divine Mother, Goddess of Puttaparthi (we adore You).)

Bhajorey Maa Bhajorey Maa
Bhajorey Bhaja Mana Sai Maa
Bhajorey Saraswathi Shankari Maa
Bhajorey Chandi Maheshwari Maa
Parvathi Bhava Bhaya Haarini Maa
Pankaja Lochani Sai Maa

(Oh Mind! Worship the Lotus-eyed Mother Sai, Destroyer of evil, fear and bondage of birth and death. Goddess Saraswati - bestower of knowledge.)

Durga Aarti


Jai ambe gaurii maiyaa, Jai shyaamaa gaurii Nishadina tumako dhyaavata, Hari brahma shivajii

"Glory to you, O divine Mother Gauri, glory to you, O Parvati, who are so rich in maiden grace (virgin beauty), the object of daily meditation by Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva!"

Maanga sinduura viraajata, Tiko mriga madako Ujjvalase dauu nainaa, Chandravana niiko

"O Ambe! On your forehead is a resplendent mark of vermilion along with a mark of musk (signifying good luck). Your twin eyes are bright and your face beautiful as the moon."

Kanaka samaana kalevara, Raktaambara raaje Raktapushpa galamaalaa, Kanthahaara saaje

"Your body with a tinge of gold is splendidly dressed in red attire; on your throat lies a wreath of red blossoms like a beautiful necklace."

Kehari vaahana raajata, Khadaga khappara dhaari Sura nara munijana sevata, Tinake dukha haari

"Your vehicle, the lion, is, O Mother in keeping with your splendid form; you bear a sword and a skull in your hands, and on you attend the gods, men, hermits and your votaries whose grief you drive away."

Kaanana kunadala shobhita, Naasaagre motii Kotika chandra divaakara, Sam raajata jyotii

"You are adorned with rings on your ears and with pearl on the tip of your nose, your radiance looks as splendid as that of myriad of suns and moons."

Shumbha nishumbha bidaare, Mahishaasura ghaatii Dhuumra vilochana nainaa, Nishadina madamaatii

"O slayer of the demon Mahisha, you tore apart the bodies of Shumbha, Nishumbha and Dhuumravilochana. (In the battle waged against them) your eyes reflected a frenzy of fury everyday and night."

Brahmaanii rudraanii, Tuma kamalaa raanii Aagama-nigama bakhaanii, Tuma shiva pataraanii

"You are the beloved consort of Brahma, Rudra and Vishnu. The Vedas and the Shastras describe you as the queen consort of Shiva,"

Chausatha yoginii gaavata, Nritya karata bhairon Baajata taala mridanga, Aura baajata damaruu

"Sixty-four Yoginis chorus your praise and glorify you, while Bhairava (Shiva) dances in tune to the accompaniment of the sound of tambour (mridanga) and drum (damaru)."

Tuma ho jaga kii maataa, Tuma hii ho bhartaa Bhaktana kii dukha hartaa, Sukha sampati kartaa

"You are mother of the universe, its sustainer, reliever of your devotees' affliction and bestower of happiness and prosperity."

Bhujaa chaara ati shobhita, Vara mudraa dhaarii Manavaanchita phala paavata, Sevata nara naarii

"The four arms you have adorned your person, while the hand raised in benediction reveals your benign aspect. Those among men and women who wait on you and worship you have all their cherished wishes ever fulfilled."

Kanchana thaala viraajata, Agaru kapuura baatii Bhaalaketu mein raajata, Kotiratana jyotii

"In a golden platter are beautifully laid aloe and camphor, both of which have lighted (to be waved before you); in he radiance of your forehead is reflected the splendour of a myriad gems."

Durga Puja Fast

Devotees of Goddess Durga observe fast on the occasion of nine-day-long Durga Puja celebrations every year with full faith and sincerity. The purpose of observing fast is to propitiate Durga Ma and seek her divine blessings. Having been religiously carried out since ages during the festival of Navratri or Durga Puja, the fast has become an intrinsic part of the festival.

Purpose of Observing Fast
Hindus have high regards for Goddess Durga whom they look upon as Ma or Mother of all. Fast to them is a denial of the physical needs of the body and a means to attain spiritual gains besides blessings of the Mother Goddess. Hindus sincerely believe that fasting helps in establishing a harmonious coordination between body and soul. Besides, fasting is also considered to be good for the body. It helps to keep body healthy by giving digestive organs some rest and cleansing the body of toxic materials.

Durga Puja Fast Rituals
The custom of observing Durga Puja Fast is particularly prevalent in Northern India. In the state of Punjab people observe fast for seven days of the nine-day-long Durga Puja Festival. The fast is broken only on the ashtami or navmi day. Some devotees of Durga Ma consume only milk during the fasting days while some only live on fruits. Some devotees observe ‘Ekana’ which means that they take one complete meal during the day. Non-vegetarian food, intoxicating substances and other forms of entertainment are completely avoided during the fasting days. Men observing fast are not supposed to shave. Some also believe in sleeping on the ground and thereby deny themselves all luxuries and comforts.

Fasting during Durga Puja festival is also quite popular in the state of West Bengal and several other Southern states. At the end of the fasting period devotees feed beggars and worship little girls who spell the Shakti of Mother Goddess.

At several places there is a tradition of sowing barley seeds during the Durga Puja fasting period. In this a small bed of mud is prepared in a little container and barley seeds are sown in it. This is placed in the Puja room and cared for during the fasting period. At the end of the fast the shoots reach a height of 3-5 inches. These are pulled out and given to devotees as form of blessings.

Modern Fasting Trends
It is interesting to note that the present generation has retained the custom of fasting during Durga Puja. Though many observe fast in its true meaning some have molded it suit their taste buds. Rush of people in the stall selling vrat (fast) ki chaat and vrat ki namkeen is a common site especially in metropolitan cities. Restaurants too offer a special menu to those observing Navratri fast. While many look at the changing trends with skepticism others feel that such transformation does not matter a lot as long as people have faith in Durga Ma.

Regional Names of Durga Puja

Durga Puja is identified by different regional names throughout India. This diversity across various states bind the people in a unique way. Durga Puja is one of the most important religious festival of Hindus, celebrating the return of the goddess to her natal home. But, this great Hindu festival is recounted and celebrated slightly differently in various regions taking on different forms and names. The festival of Durga Puja is characterized by a variety of prayers and rituals. The name of the Durga puja vary from locale to locale as common for most of the Hindu festivals. The various distinct regional names of this festival are:
Durga Puja / Durga Pujo
Navratri Puja
Kullu Dussehra
Mysore Dussehra
Bommai Kolu
Ayudha Puja
Vidyaramba
Saraswati Puja
Simollanghan

Akalbodhan

The worship of Devi Durga in the month of Ashwin is called 'Akalbodhan'- an uncustomary time for commencement of the worship. It is so called since the period of this worship differs from the conventional period (during the spring - 'Basanta'). Ramayana says that when Rama was engaged in the fierce battle with Ravana, he wanted to secure the blessings of victory from Devi Durga. He held the puja to evoke the goddess during autumn to his dire plight, thereby worshiping Durga untimely (in Akal). Hence this puja is called Akalbodhon.It was customary to worship Durga with 100 neel kamals (blue lotuses). Rama could gather only 99 of them; he offered one of his eyes as a substitute of the 100th lotus. Pleased with his devotion Durga blessed him. The battle started on Shaptami and Ravana was killed at the Shandhikshan (in between) Ashtami and Navami; he was cremated on Dashami. Therefore the four days of the puja that we celebrate ends in the triumph of the good over evil.

The Essentials of Durga Puja


Specific items are needed for each day of Durga Puja. There is a detailed method to worshiping Goddess Durga that are mentioned in the scriptures. Items which are needed for the ritual worship of the goddess should be collected beforehand so that the ritual is performed smoothly. The list of essentials of Durga Puja are:

Items needed for Kalparambho, the ritual performed before the commencement of the puja and Mahasna:
Food Offerings : Panchashasha (grains of five types - rice, mung or whole green gram, til or sesame, mashkalai or any variety of whole black leguminous seed, job or millet), panchagobbo (five items obtained from the cow - milk, ghee or clarified butter, curd, cow dung and gomutra ), curd, honey, sugar, three big noibiddos , one small noibiddo, three bowls of madhupakka (a mixture of honey, curd, ghee and sugar for oblation), bhoger drobbadi (items for the feast), aaratir drobbadi mahasnan oil, dantokashtho, sugar cane juice, an earthen bowl of atop (a type of rice), til toilo (sesame oil).

Water Offerings: Ushnodok (lukewarm water), coconut water, sarbooushodhi , mahaoushodhi, water from oceans, rain water, spring water, water containing lotus pollen.

Puja Items: Sindur (vermillion), panchabarner guri (powders of five different colours - turmeric, rice, kusum flowers or red aabir, rice chaff or coconut fibre burnt for the dark colour, bel patra or powdered wood apple leaves), panchapallab (leaves of five trees - mango, pakur or a species of fig, banyan, betal and Joggodumur or fig), pancha ratna (five types of gems - gold, diamond, sapphire, ruby and pearl), panchakoshay (bark of five trees - jaam, shimul, berela, kool, bokul powdered in equal portions and mixed with water), green coconut with stalk, three aashonanguriuk (finger ring made of kusha).

Cloth Offerings: Gamcha or a piece of cloth to cover the pot, a dhoti for Vishnu, a sari each for bodhon and Chandi.

Decorative Items : Ghat or a pot, kundohari , a mirror, four arrows, tekatha or a triangular frame of wood, horitoki flowers (myrobalan), chandmala (garland with circular decorations), aashon (a mattress of jute or hay).

Other Items : Water camphor and perfumed sandal wood paste. soil - extracted from elephant tusks, from the teeth of the pig, from the horns of the ox, from the bank of rivers Ganga and Saraswati, from both the banks of a river, from a place where four roads intersect, from palaces, from the ant hill, from the mountains, Vishnu toilo.

Items needed for the Shashthi puja of Goddess Durga:
Food Offerings: A stem of wood apple with fruits, green coconut with stalk, an earthen bowl full of atop, three bowls of madhupakka, sesame seeds, curd, honey, clarified butter, sugar, three big noibiddos, one small noibiddo, bhoger drobbadi, aaratir drobbadi, grain, fruits, one dozen bananas with a single stem, white mustard seeds.

Puja Items : A pot, four arrows two ashonanguriuk, panchapallab, pancha ratna, panchashasha, panchagobbo, tekatha, dubba grass, sindur, swastik pituli, conch shell, kajol (corrilium), gorachana, yellow thread, chamor, a fly-whisk made of yak's tail used for fanning, earthen lamps, panch pradip for arati.

Cloth Offerings: Gamcha to cover the pot, a dhoti for the wood apple tree, a sari for bodhon, one sari for amontron.

Decorative Items: Myrobalan, flowers, chandmala, adibas oil, turmeric, soil from the bank of river Ganga, perfume, stone, gold, silver, copper, iron, mirror and alta.

Items Needed For Saptami Puja of Goddess Durga:
Food Offerings: Sesame seeds, myrobalan, flowers, two earthen bowls full of atop, green coconut with stalk, wood apple leaves, white mustard, madhupakka (40 or 22 bowls), honey, sugar, noibiddos (40 or 22), one main noibiddo, fruits, items for bhog.

Puja Items: Jute ropes, red thread, alta, four finger rings, four yadnyopaveet, a pot, a mirror, a tekatha, sandalwood, mashkolai, hibiscus flower, small noibiddo, one big earthen lamp, panchapallab, pancha ratna, panchashasha, panchaguri, vermillion, items for arati, items for the yadnya - sand, wood, dry khorke grass, cowdung, kusha grass, ghee, 108 bel leaves and a bowl.

Cloth Offerings: Clothes for the Pundit, a piece of cloth, gamcha for arati, 40 or 22 finger rings made of kusha, sari for nabapatrika, one sari for the main puja, saris for Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Chandi, dhoti for Kartik, Ganesh, Shiva, Vishnu, clothes for nine planets, clothes for peacock, mouse, lion, demon, buffalo, ox, snake, chandmala, a nosering, iron, conch shell.

Plants and flowers offerings: Flower garland, belpatra garland, Banana plant, turmeric plant, colacassia plant, wood apple stem, pomegranate stem, a stem of Jayanti plant, arum plant, rice plant, ashoka stem, twigs of white aparajita plant, two banana stems.

Items needed for Ashtami Puja of Goddess Durga:
Food Offerings : Fruits, items for bhog, items for arati, 40 or 22 bowls of madhupakka, honey, sugar, curd, ghee, 40 or 22 noibiddos, four small noibiddos.
Cloth Offerings : One sari for Durga, new clothes for Lakshmi, Saraswati, Chandi, Kartik, Ganesh, Shiva, Vishnu, nine planets, the peacock, mouse, lion, demon, buffalo, ox, snake, Jaya, Bijoya and Ram.
Puja Items : One dantakashto, 40 or 22 finger rings made of kusha, one nosering, iron, two conch shells, a box of vermillion, flowers, a garland, belpatra garland, one chandmala, one ghoti.
For Sandhi Puja - Flowers, gold ring, a bronze bowl for madhupakka, a small sari, main noibiddo, one small noibiddo, one plate, one pitcher, iron, one nosering, one pillow, a mat, a chandmala, 108 earthen lamps, items for bhog, and items for the arati .

Items needed for Nabami and Dashami Pujas:
Food Offerings : Betel leaves, pan masala, 40 or 22 bowls of madhupakka, honey, sugar, curd, ghee, 40 or 22 noibiddos, four small noibiddos.

Cloth Offerings : Clothes for Lakshmi, Saraswati, Chandi, Kartik, Ganesh, Shiva, Vishnu, the nine planets, the peacock, mouse, lion, demon, buffalo, ox, snake, Jaya, Bijoya and Ram, one dantakashto , one sari for the main puja.

Puja Items: Flowers, 40 or 22 finger rings made of kusha, one ghoti , one nosering, iron, two conch shells, a box of vermillion, flower garland, belpatra garland, a chandmala, one plate, items needed for the yadnya (fire sacrifice), bel leaves, gift for the Purohit.

For the Dashami puja - Perfume, flowers, durba grass, basil leaves, bel leaves, incense sticks, an earthen lamp, noibiddo, curd, murki, sweets and items needed for arati.

Dussehra

The festival of Dassehra, also known as Vijayadashmi, is one of the fascinating festivals of India and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm. According to the great Hindu scripture, the Ramayana, Lord Rama performed chandi-puja (holy prayer). This was carried out in order to invoke the blessings of Durga Maa for the killing of Ravana, the ten-headed demon king of Sri Lanka who had abducted Seeta, wife of Lord Rama.Durga Maa divulged the secret to Rama on how he could slay the great Ravana. Hence upon vanquishing the demon Ravana, Lord Rama with Sita and younger brother Laxmana, returned victorious to his kingdom of Ayodhya on the day which is called 'Diwali'. Revelers across northern India re-enact the legend at sundown in a performance called the Ramlila, featuring actors dressed as Rama shooting flaming arrows at effigies stuffed with firecrackers. Dassera day is considered a most auspicious day. It is a time-honored belief that if any new venture is started on this day, it is bound to be successful. Hence, all the undertakings be it laying-in of foundation of a new building, opening of a new commercial establishment or even initiating a child into the world of learning- are started on this day. Also on this day implements of agriculture, manufacturer's machines, the intellectuals pens, the household articles, the children's school books are placed before the idol of Durga and worshiped.

Mahalaya

Mahalaya ushers in the aura of Durga Puja. The countdown for the Durga Puja begins much earlier, from the day of 'Janmastami'. It is only from the day of Mahalaya that the preparations for the Durga Puja reaches the final stage. The midnight chants of various hymns of 'Mahishasura Mardini' reminds one of the beginning of Durga Puja. Mahalaya is an auspicious occasion observed seven days before the Durga Puja, and heralds the advent of Durga, the goddess of supreme power. It's a kind of invocation or invitation to the mother goddess to descend on earth - "Jago Tumi Jago". This is done through the chanting of mantras and singing devotional songs. The day of Mahalaya is also the day of remembrance. On this day, people offer 'tarpan' in memory of their deceased forefathers. The banks of River Ganga becomes a sea of humanity. Priests are seen busy performing 'Tarpan' for devotees in groups. The rituals start from early down and end during the midday. Devotees and worshipers buy clothes and sweets to offer to their forefathers. 'Tarpan' is to be performed in empty stomach. After offering 'tarpan', people eat at the same place.

Navratri


Navratri, the festival of nights, lasts for 9 days with three days each devoted to worship of Ma Durga, the Goddess of Valor, Ma Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Ma Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. During the nine days of Navratri, feasting and fasting take precedence over all normal daily activities amongst the Hindus. Evenings give rise to the religious dances in order to worhip Goddess Durga Maa.

1st - 3rd day of Navratri
On the first day of the Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room of the house and barley seeds are sown on it. 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. These initial days are dedicated to Durga Maa, the Goddess of power and energy. Her various manifestations, Kumari, Parvati and Kali are all worshipped during these days. They represent the three different classes of womanhood that include the child, the young girl and the mature woman.

4th - 6th day of Navratri
During these days, Lakshmi Maa, the Goddess of peace and prosperity is worshipped. On the fifth day which is known as Lalita Panchami, it is traditional, to gather and display all literature available in the house, light a lamp or 'diya' to invoke Saraswati Maa, the Goddess of knowledge and art.

7th - 8th day of Navratri
These final days belong to Saraswati Maa who is worshipped to acquire the spiritual knowledge. This in turn will free us from all earthly bondage. But on the 8th day of this colourful festival, yagna (holy fire) is performed. Ghee (clarified butter), kheer (rice pudding) and sesame seeds form the holy offering to Goddess Durga Maa.

Mahanavami
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 new clothes as gifts by the worshiper. This ritual is performed in most parts of the country.

Different kinds of Puja

Durgapuja, over the years, has outgrown its religious connotations to a large extent as people all over the India celebrate it with a gusto. There are various ways in which Ma Durga is worshiped. The rituals and customs vary due to vast difference in the culture of Indian States. But, all these follow the century old tradition and practice that intermingle with historical ethos.

Maharashtra
In Maharashtra, Durga Puja is a fun occasion. Puja is performed each day and devotees don't remove the flower garland that is put each day on the idol or image of the deity. After nine days all nine are removed together. Young girls who have not attained maturity are invited to eat, play games, dance and sing. An elephant is drawn with rangoli and the girls play guessing games. Then they are fed a meal of their choice.

West Bengal
In West Bengal, Durga Puja is five days of festivity. It hinges around Mahalaya day, a week before the actual celebrations begin. It was on this day that Durga was assigned the task of eliminating evil. So the familiar pose of Durga unleashing her wrath on an out powered assura (demon). Legend goes that Ram wanted to invoke the blessings of Durga before his great war with Ravan. He performed the Durga Puja despite the time of year not being right. That is why the puja is also known as Akal Bodhon, or untimely invocation.

Punjab
People of Punjab strictly observes Navratri. Some Punjabus have only milk for seven days before breaking the fast on ashtami or navami. They worship Durga Ma and do the aarti at home. Some of them have fruit or a complete meal once a day and intoxicating drinks or meat and other form of entertainment is completely avoided. At the end of the fast devotees feed beggars or worship little girls who spell the Shakti of the Mother Goddess.

Gujarat
Navratri is devoted to Amba mataji. In some homes, images of mataji are worshiped in accordance with accepted practice. This is also true of the temples, which usually have a constant stream of visitors from morning to night. The most common form of public celebration is the performance of garba or dandia-ras, Gujarat's popular folk-dance, late throughout the nights of these nine days in public squares, open grounds and streets.

Kerala
In Kerala, Durga Puja signifies the beginning of formal education for every child aged 3-5 years. While puja goes on in the temple for all ten days, it is only the concluding three days which are really important. Ashtami is the day of Ayudya Puja, when all the tools at home are worshiped. Custom dictates that no tools be used on this day. On navami, day, Goddess Saraswati is honored by worshiping the books and records at home.


Thousands throng the Saraswati temple at Kottayam during this period to take a dip in the mysterious holy pond whose source is yet unknown. Large gatherings are also seen at the famous temples at Thekkegram (Palghat), in which there are no idols -- only huge mirrors. A devotee finds himself bowing before his own reflection which indicates that God is within us.

Kashmir
Hindus are a minority in Jammu and Kashmir but they celebrate their festivals with pomp and show. These days, festivities are subdued, though. The favorite deities of Kashmir are Lord Shiva and Serawali Ma Durga, the one who rides the tiger. Pundits and Muslims alike vouch that Navratri is important. No big pandals here, each Hindi house-hold does the pooja at home. All the adult members of the household fast on water. In the evenings, fruit may be taken. As elsewhere, Kashmiris grow barley in earthen pots. They believe that if the growth in this pot is good, there is prosperity all year.

The most important ritual for Kashmiri Pandits is to visit the temple of guardian goddess Kheer Bhawani on all nine days. On the last day of Navratri, an aarti is held at the temple after which people break their fast. On Dussehra day, Ravana's effigy is burnt. Devotees also visit the Hari Parbat temple.

Different Forms of Durga


As the ten-armed Goddess, Goddess Durga presents a radiantly beautiful form that is bewitching to behold. That special form is somehow simultaneously wrathful and benign and transmits profound spiritual teachings in an exacting manner. The nine-day period from the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvina is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu Calendar and is hence the most celebrated time of the year as Durga Puja. The nine different forms of Devi are worshiped over the nine days. These are the most popular forms under which she is worshiped:

Durga Shailputri (Daughter of Mountain)
She is a daughter of Himalaya and first among nine Durgas. In previous birth she was the daughter of Daksha. Her name was Sati - Bhavani. i.e. the wife of Lord Shiva. Once Daksha had organized a big Yagna and did not invite Shiva. But Sati being obstinate, reached there. Thereupon Daksha insulted Shiva. Sati could not tolerate the insult of husband and burnt herself in the fire of Yagna. In other birth she became the daughter of Himalaya in the name of Parvati - Hemvati and got married with Shiva. As per Upnishad she had torn and the egotism of Indra, etc. Devtas. Being ashamed they bowed and prayed that, "In fact, thou are Shakti, we all - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiv are capable by getting Shakti from you."

Brahmacharini
The second Durga Shakti is Brahamcharini. Brahma that is who observes penance(tapa) and good conduct. Here "Brahma" means "Tapa". The idol of this Goddess is very gorgeous. There is rosary in her right hand and Kamandal in left hand. She is full with merriment. One story is famous about her. In previous birth she was Parvati Hemavati the daughter of Himvan. Once when she was busy in games with her friends. Naradaji came to her and predicted seeing her Palm-lines that, "You will get married with a naked-terrible 'Bhole baba' who was with you in the form of Sati, the daughter of Daksh in previous birth. But now you have to perform penance for him." There upon Parvati told her mother Menaka that she would marry none except Shambhu, otherwise she would remain unmarried. Saying this she went to observe penance. That is why her name is famous as tapacharini - Brahmacharini. From that time her name Uma became familiar.

Chandraghanta
The name of third Shakti is Chandraghanta. There is a half-circular moon in her forehead. She is charmful and bright. She is Golden color. She has three eyes and ten hands holding with ten types of swords - etc. weapons and arrows etc. She is seated on Lion and ready for going in war to fight. She is unprecedented image of bravery. The frightful sound of her bell terrifies all the villains, demons and danavas.

Kushmanda
Name of fourth Durga is Kushmanda. The Shakti creates egg, ie. Universe by mere laughing .She resides in solar systems. She shines brightly in all the ten directions like Sun. She has eight hands. Seven types of weapons are shining in her seven hands. Rosary is in her right hand. She seems brilliant riding on Lion. She likes the offerings of "Kumhde." Therefore her name "Kushmanda" has become famous.

Skanda Mata
Fifth name of Durga is "Skanda Mata". The daughter of Himalaya, after observing penance got married with Shiva. She had a son named "Skanda." Skanda is a leader of the army of Gods. Skanda Mata is a deity of fire. Skanda is seated in her lap. She has three eyes and four hands. She is white and seated on a lotus.

Katyayani
Sixth Durga is Katyayani. The son of "Kat" as "Katya". Rishi Katyayan born in this "Katya" lineage. Katyayan had observed penance with a desire to get paramba as his daughter. As a result she took birth as a daughter of Katyayan. Therefore her name is "Katyayani" . She has three eyes and eight hands. These are eight types of weapons missiles in her seven hands. Her vehicle is Lion.

Kalratri
Seventh Durga is Kalratri. She is black like night. Durga hairs are unlocked. She has put on necklaces shining like lightening. She has three eyes which are round like universe. Her eyes are bright. Thousands of flames of fire come out while respiring from nose. She rides on Shava (dead body). There is sharp sword in her right hand. Her lower hand is in blessing mood. The burning torch (mashal) is in her left hand and her lower left hand is in fearless style, by which she makes her devotees fearless. Being auspicious she is called "Shubhamkari."

Maha Gauri
The Eighth Durga is "Maha Gauri." She is as white as a conch, moon and Jasmine. She is of eight years old. Her clothes and ornaments are white and clean. She has three eyes. She rides on bull She has four hands. The above left hand is in "Fearless - Mudra" and lower left hand holds "Trishul." The above right hand has tambourine and lower right hand is in blessing style. She is calm and peaceful and exists in peaceful style. It is said that when the body of Gauri became dirty due to dust and earth while observing penance, Shiva makes it clean with the waters of Gangas. Then her body became bright like lightening. There fore, she is known as "Maha Gauri" .

Siddhidatri
Ninth Durga us Siddhidatri. There are eight Siddhis , they are- Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva & Vashitva. Maha Shakti gives all these Siddhies. It is said in "Devipuran" that the Supreme God Shiv got all these Siddhies by worshipping Maha Shakti. With her gratitude the half body of Shiv has became of Goddess and there fore his name "Ardhanarishvar" has became famous. The Goddess drives on Lion. She has four hands and looks pleased. This form of Durga is worshiped by all Gods, Rishis-Munis, Siddhas, Yogis, Sadhakas and devotees for attaining the best religious asset.

Origin of Durga - The Mythology


Devi is the great goddess of the Hindus,the consort of Shiva and she is worshiped in various forms corresponding to her two aspects: benevolence and fierceness. She is Uma, "light"; Gauri, "yellow or brilliant"; Parvati, "the mountaineer"; and Jagatmata, "the-mother-of-the-world" in her milder guise. The terrible emanations are Durga "the inaccessible"; Kali, "the black"; Chandi, "the fierce"; and Bhairavi, "the terrible."

Descent of the Goddess
Durga, a beautiful warrior seated upon a tiger, was the first appearance of the great goddess. The circumstance of her miraculous arrival was the tyranny of the monster-demon Mahishasur, who through terrific austerities had acquired invincible strength. The gods were afraid of this water-buffalo bull because neither Vishnu nor Shiva could prevail against him. It seemed that the joint energy of Shakti was only capable of vanquishing Mahisha, and so it was the eighteen-armed Durga who went out to do battle.

Battlefield
She went to battle on her ferocious mount lion, armed with the weapons given to her by the other Gods. Durga is one of the angry and aggressive aspects of the goddess Shakti, whose role in Hindu mythology was to fight and conquer demons and also personify the Sakti or female aspect of any male deity. In the battle, she fought and killed the evil Mahishasura and restored heaven to the Gods. Since then the goddess is invoked for protection from the powers of evil. Durga Puja is observed in her honor, to celebrate her victory over evil.

Revered Mother
She has been worshiped from about 400 AD, but probably earlier, to the present. Her literary references are chiefly the Ramayana and Mahabharata, epic and Puranic texts, and she is mentioned by name in Vedic literature. In general, Durga is regarded in northern India as the gentle bride epitomizing family unity while in southern India she is revered more in her warrior aspect.

Mata Temples in India


There are innumerable temples throughout India, dedicated to Ma Durga, the true manifestation of the absolute energy that pervades the universe. These temples helps to promote and flourish the richness of the Hindu religion, culture, and philosophy. In addition, the various Durga temples provides an opportunity for the Hindu community to learn and display the many characteristics possessed by Ma Durga through participation in rituals, customs and various other activities, performed in the temples.
Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu and Kashmir
Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam
Mansa Devi Temple, Churu, Rajasthan
Karni Mata Temple, Deshnoke, Rajasthan.
Chamunda Devi Temple, Himachal Pradesh
Kalkaji Mandir, Delhi
Durgiana Temple, Amritsar, Punjab
Amba Mata Temple, Junagadh, Gujarat
Chartarpur Temples, Delhi
Jwalamukhi Temple, Himachal pradesh
Naina Devi Temple, Nainital, Uttar Pradesh.
Mookambika Devi Temple of Kollur, Karnataka
Vidyashankara Temple at Sringere, Karnataka
Chamundeswari Temple of Chamundi Hill, Mysore
Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata, West Bengal
Mangalagauri Temple, Gaya, Bihar
The Durga Temple, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Devi Kanaka Durga, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh
Shree Durga Parameshwari Temple, Kateel, Karnataka.
Bhadra Kali, Nepal
Chandi Devi, Haridwar, UP
Bhagavathi Temple, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
Devi Patan Temple
Bhadrakali Temple at Hanamkonda, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh
Annapoorneshwari Temple of Horanadu, Karnataka
Marikamba Temple of Sirsi, Karnataka
Banashankari Temple near Badami, Karnataka

Goddess Durga

Durga, in Sanskrit means "She who is incomprehensible or difficult to reach." Goddess Durga is a form of Sakti worshiped for her gracious as well as terrifying aspect. Mother of the Universe, she represents the infinite power of the universe and is a symbol of a female dynamism. The manifestation of Goddess Durga is said to emerge from Her formless essence and the two are inseparable. She is also called by many other names, such as Parvati, Ambika, and Kali. In the form of Parvati, She is known as the divine spouse of Lord Shiva and is the mother of Her two sons, Ganesha and Karttikeya, and daughter Jyoti. Destroyer of demons, she is worshiped during an annual festival called Durga puja, especially popular among Bengalis. Her Appearance There are endless aspects of Durga described in the Puranas and Agamas and the iconography is consequently very varied. She is usually pictured as having ten arms holding Sword, Conch, Discus, Rosary, Bell, Winecup, Shielf, Bow, Arrow, and Spear. She is most often shown riding a lion from which comes Her august name, Simhavahini, "She who stands astride the king of beasts". She is gorgeously dressed in royal red cloth and has several ornaments decorating Her personage. Her hair is dressed up in a crown (karandamukuta) which then flows out in long luxuriant tresses that are darkly luminous and soothing to the eye. The various tools reflects the eminent supremacy that helps in controling the universe and obey Her will. Weilding Energy Goddess Durga exists eternally, always abiding in her own sweet nature and inhabits the hearts and minds of her ecstatic devotees. As Shakti power, she shapes, nurtures, and dissolves names and forms, while as subtle spiritual energy called Kundalini, She lights the lotuses fo the seven centres of awareness in the sacred human body. Goddess Durga killed the powerful demon Mahish and all his great commanders. When demonic forces create imbalance all god unite becoming one divine force called Shakti or Durga.