Navratri Vrat or Navaratri Vratam is an important fast observed by Hindus during Ashvin (September – October). Navratri 2014 begins on September 25 and ends on October 3. Vasant Navratri is from March 31 to April 8. It is believed that those devotees who perform Navratri fasting will find happiness on earth and will receive ‘moksha.’ Legend has it that, how to observe the Navarathri Vrat was once narrated by Goddess Durga to one of her ardent devotee. The Vratam is observed by both men and women and Navratri mantra is repeated during the period.
The Navratri fast is observed from the first day to the ninth day of Ashvin month. People take bath in the morning and evening during this period and some even drink water only after the ritual bath in the morning.
Most devotees take only a single meal during the day. Non-vegetarian food is totally avoided. Some people confine to milk and fruits during the nine days.
Some devotees only observe fast during three days i.e., first fast during any one of the first three days and second fast during any one of the next three and last in any one of final three days.
How to perform the rituals?
A Kalash is prepared at home and the water is changed daily for nine days. The kalash is placed on grains on raised platform or in the Puja room. Goddess Durga is worshipped during the first three days, Goddess Lakshmi for the next three days, and Goddess Saraswathi during the last three days. (Some people make clay figures of the Goddesses during the period).
Each day fresh flowers and fruits are offered to the Goddess. Arati is performed and bhajans are recited.
The Mantras and Bhajans to be recited
Devi Mahatmya (Durga Saptashati) and Sri Lalita Sahasranama are recited during the period. The important Navratri mantra is ‘Aaim hreem kleem chamundayai vichche.’
Some devotees conduct special homas and pujas during the period.
On the ninth day, all books, pen and whatever implements that a person uses for his/her livelihood is worshipped and is not touched on the day.
On the tenth day, that is the Vijayadashami day in
South India, especially in Kerala, young children are initiated into the world of learning.
There are no hard and fast rules for any fasting in Hindu religion. There is always scope for flexibility. Some people just abstain from non-vegetarian food during the period. Some people just visit temples all the nine days. Some people read Bhagavad Gita or other holy books during the period.