In India, Navami is celebrated as the last day of the nine nights of Navratri – the festival in which Goddess Durga is worshipped and revered. In north India, especially amongst the Punjabi community, it is celebrated by holding kanjak or kanya pujan, where young girls, who are thought to be a form of the Devi, are prayed to and served the traditional bhog. Ladies of the house wash their feet, welcome them, seat them in a row and, after giving them the bhog items, seek their blessings. The traditional bhog for kanjak or kanya pujan is sooji halwa, poori, kala chana (black gram) and kheer. Some families observe the kanya pujan on the eighth day of the Navratri, that is on Ashtami.
On the ninth day of the Navratri, Maa Siddhidatri, the last of the nine avataars of Maa Durga, is worshipped. Siddhi means perfection, accomplishment, attainment or success. Maa Siddhidatri is said to perform miracles for her devotees and bestow them with achievements, special powers and success. The legend goes that the Lord Shiva got all those Siddhis by worshipping Maa Shakti. With Her gratitude, half the body of Lord Shiva became that of Maa Shakti and, therefore, he was called as Ardhnarishvar.
Durga Puja is one of the most celebrated festivals amongst Bengalis as well. On Navami, Maa Durga is said to have defeated the demon Mahishasuraa to emerge victorious. Durga Puja in Kolkata is celebrated with a lot of gaiety and merrymaking. Pujas are performed from morning to evening. Khichdi, mixed vegetables, papad, rosogolla, and payesh are served at many pandals where Maa Durga’s idol is being worshipped.
Navami and Durga Puja are not just celebrated in India but are also celebrated in the UK with fervor. This year, it will be celebrated in Camden, London, Mitcham, and other areas.
Image courtesy: Pixabay, Depositphotos, and www.londonpuja.co.uk