Devi Navaraatraas: The Tula Sankranti and Mesha Sankranti is designated as Vishu. Fifteen ghadiyaas before and thereafter is the Vishu Punya kaala mand the one before Vishu is known as significant. Devi Navaraatraas commence from Ashviyuja Shukla Pratipada to Maharnavami signifying ‘Karma Praadhanyata’or performing Acts of Dharma Karmaas of which Puja is the essential along with Upavaasa , Stora, Japa etc. As per one’s own ‘Kulaachara’ or family tradition, Upavasaas are observed as Eka Bhukta, Nakta Bhojana or Ayaachita Bhojana; recitals of Stotras of ‘Sapta Shati’, Lakshmi Hridaya, Lalitha-Lakshmi-Durga Sahasra Naamaas are rendered daily and formal Pujas to Devi are executed with dedication and involvement during the concerned Tithis regularly. Navaraatra Pujas begin on the Pratipada Tithi morning after Sunrise upto six ghadiyas or two Muhurtaas since the Puja is not to commence with an extension of time of the previous Amavasya into the Praatipada. In case the Pratipada Tithi does not occur even ten ghadiyas after Sun rise, then the Sankalpa could still be done looking East upto the Abhijin-muhurta upto ‘Madhyaahna’ but certainly not in the ‘Aparaahna’. The Navaraatra Pujas could be observed by all of the Chaturvarnaas and even ‘Mlecchaas’. But Brahmanaas should perform only ‘Saatvika Puja’with Japa-Homa-Annabali-Naivedyas; in fact Naivedyascha niraamishaih Madyam datvaa Brahmanastu Braahmanyaa Deva heeyatey, Madyamapeyamadeyam/ (Thus Brahmanaas have no authorization to resort to Raajasa Puja since they have no access to Madya-Maamsa). Madya paaney Maranaanta praayaschittokteyhi, Sparsham tadangacchedokteyschaalpapraayschittena doshaanapoagamena paatityaapaataat/ ( ‘Madya paana’ attracts the extreme ‘praasyaschitta’ or atonement of life unto death to a Brahmana and the limb of his body is required to be mutilated ) . Even in the case of Kshtriyaas-Vaishyaas and others , Maamsa-Madyaas are totally banned in respect of Nitya Pujas although these Varnaas might resort to them in the case of Kaamya Karmaas. However in reference to Kamya karmaas too their worship would secure additional and quicker results without Madya-Maamsaas. In any case, Japa-Homaadi Karyas need to be necessarily executed by Brahmanaas alone.
Navaraatri Vidhis: Atra Nava Raatrey Ghatasthaapanam Pratarmadhyaahney Pradosha kaaley cheti Trikaalam Dwikaalam-Eeka kaalam vaa Swaswa Kula Devataa pujanam Saptashatyaadi japokhanda deepah Achaarapraapta maalaa bandhanam Upavaasa Nakthaikabhaktaadi niyamah Suvaasini bhojanm Kumaari bhojana pujaaadi antey Saptashatyaadi Stotra Mantra Homaadi ityetaani vihitaani/ ( During these Navaraatraas the Duties required to be performed include Kalasha Sthaapana followed by daily Trikaala Puja as per ‘Vamshaachaara’, Saptapadi and other Japaas, Akhanda Deepa, Maalaa bandhana as per Kulaachaara, Upavaasa, Nakta-Eka bhuktaadi niyama, Suvaasini –Kanyaa pujaas and Bhojana and Homa Karyaas). Kalasha Sthaapana should not be performed in the nights. The Kalasha should be arranged on a Clean Vedika / Platform made of Pancha Pallavaas, milk, fruits, ‘taambula’/betel nuts and leaves, Kunkuma, Dhupa , Deepa and such other requirements of Puja. On Pratipaada morning after ‘Abhyangana’ or head bath, be seated by Grihastis along with wife and make the Sankalpa as follows: Mama saha kutumba syaamuka Devataa preeti dwaaraa Sarvaapadcchaanti purvaka Deerghaayurdhana putraadi vriddhi Shatru Jaya keertilaabha pramukha Charurvidha Purushaartha siddhyartha Madhya Prabhriti Mahaa Navamiparyanta trikaala mekakaalamvaamuka Devataapujaamupavaasaa Naktaikabhaktaanyata niyama sahitamakhanda deepajwaalana Kumaaripujana Chandi Saptashati paatha Suvaasini bhojanaadi rupam Sharada nava raatrotsavaakhyam karma karishye! After the Sankalpa as above Kalasha Sthaapana follows; Tadadou Nirvighnataa siddhyartham Ganapati Pujamam Punyaahvachanam Chandi Saptashati Japaadyartham Brahman varanam karishye/ As the Kalasha Sthapana is being performed, Bhumi is prayed to and touched with the Mantra Mahaadyou; to perform ‘Ankuraaropana’ collect some ‘Mrtittika’ for the Ankuraarpana and recite the Mantras: ‘Aoushaddhayassa- Akaleshu- Imammey Gangey- Gandha dwaaraa- Kandaatkaanda- Ashwattevah-Syonaa Prithivi-Yaah phalineeh-Sahiratnaani Hiranya Rupam-Uvaasu vaasaa-Purnaadarvi-Tatwaayaami/ by inferring various acts of collecting Aoushadhis from Mrittika to fill up the Kalasha with the Sacred Water along with Pancha Pallavaas, Ratna-Hiranyaas, and perform Puja to Varuna Deva, Kula Devata and Devi in various Forms as follows: Jayanti Mangalaa Kashi Bhadra Kaali Kapaalini, Durgaa Kshamaa Shivaa Dhaatri Swaahaa Swadhaa Namostutey/ Aagaccha Varadey Devi Daithua darpa nishudini, Pujaam grahaana Sumikhi namastey Shankara priye! There after along with other Stotraas like Shri Sukta, Purusha Sukta and Prathama Ruks and formally worship with ‘Shodasopachaaraas’ like Aasana-Padya-Vastra-Dhupa-Deepa-Naivedyas and Sarva Mangala Maangaley and other ‘Praarthanaas’. Offer of ‘Bali daana’, Kushmaanda daana, ‘Kushmaanda Khandana’and Shanti mantraas ending up with Om Shaantisshaanthisshaantih/ Finally ar the end of the daily Nava Raatri Puja there shoud be resolve : Akhanda deepakam Devyaah preetaye Nmava traatrakam, Ujjwalaye dahoraatra mekachitto Dhrudha Vrata/ (I resove with unswerving devotion that the Akhanda Deepa shall be firmly set aflame all through the Nava Raatris and the daily formal worship as presribed!)
Chandi Saptashati Pathana Vidhaana: With the resolution of reading Chandi Sapta Shati or Narayana Hridaya or Lakshmi Hridaya, one should be seated comfortably and commence with Salutations to Bhagavan of Om Namo Narayanaaya Namah, Om Naraaya Narottamaaya Namah, Om Sarasvatyai Namah,Om Vyaasaaya Namah. Reading the book holding in hands is not in order. There should not be a break while reading and if so it should start again from the beginning. Reading must be done by clearly pronouncing the letters and understanding the meaning; the voice must be uniform and modulated and in proper ‘Swara’. Shanti karmani sarvatra tathaa Dussapna darshane, Graha peedaasu chograasu Mayatmyam shrunuyaanmaya/ ie. when Shanti Karmaas are being done or when bad dreams occur or while entering frightening places, reading the Devi Mahatmya would bar any kind of impediments. While entering water and forests or sudden out breaks of fire or attack by robbers or enemies, recitation of Sapta Shati happens to be a sure remedy. Its recital thrice wards off ‘Upadravaas’ or calamities; ‘graha peedaa nivrutti’is assured by the recital by five times; undergoing ‘Maha Bhaya’ is overcome by seven recitals; For Shaanti and Vaajapeya Phala praapti by nine tmes; Raja Vasya by eleven times; Shatru naashana by reciting twelve times; ‘Stree-Purusha Vasyata’ by fourteen times; Putra-Poutra-Dhana-Dhaanya-Arthaas are attainable by the ‘Paath’ of the ‘Shati’by sixteen times; Raja bhaya naasha by seventeen times; Vana Bhaya by twenty times; freedom from shackles by twenty five times; and concentrated recital of the Sapta Shati by hundred times would accompish curing of Impossible diseases, Kulaccheda nivaarana, Ayur –naashana and so on. ‘Sahasra Paatha’ of the Sacred Sapta Shati would indeed bestow ‘Shataashwamedha phala’ and Moksha Prapti!
Kumaari Puja: Excepting a baby of one year, Kanyas from two to ten years of age are worthy of worship. Such Kanyaas are designated as Kumari, Trimurti, Kalyani, Rohini, Kaali,Chandika, Shambhavi,Durga and Bhadra. ‘Aavahana’ or Invocation of such Kumaris in their Puja would be as follows: Mantraakshara mayeem Lakshmim Maatrunaam Rupa dhaarineem, Nava Durgaatmikaam Saakshaat kanyaanmavaa hyamyaham/ Jagatpujye Jagadwandye Sarva Shakti Swarupini, Pujaam grihaana Koumaari Jaganmaatarnamostutey/ After the Avaahana Mantra the Kanyaa Puja is commenced with Paada prakshaalana or washing thefeet of the Kumari and offering Vastra-Kumkuma-Gandha-Dhupa-Deepa-Bhojanas. During the Puja, recitation of Chandi-Paatha is required while others prescribe Lalita Sahasranaamaa too. Upaanga Lalita Vrata: This Vrata is scheduled on Ashwiyuja Shukla Panchami and ‘Aparaahna’ is suitable; if Aparaahna is not avilble on Panchami, then the previous Aparaahna would be suitable. Some opine that Lalitha Puja is better performed in the night.
Saraswati Puja: This popular and Sacred Puja of Devi Saraswati is performed on Ashviyuja Shukla Paksha Saptami but significantly in the Moola Nakshatra. Sthaapana has to be in Moola, Avaahana and Puja are to be in Purvaashaadha Nakshatra, Bali daana in Uttaraashaadha and Udwaasana in Shravana: Mooleshu Sthaapanam Devyaah Purvaashaadhaasu pujanam,Uttaraasu Balim tadyacchravaney na visarjayet/ But Rudraamala Grandha states: Avahana and Anga Puja be done in Moola Nakshatra, detailed Puja in Purvaashadha without Avahana, Bali daana in Uttaraashaadha, and Anga Puja before Visarjana in Shravana Nakshatra . In any case, Avahana of Saraswati is to be done three muhurtaas before ‘Suryastama’ but if Moola Nakshatra is unvailable at that time then Aavahaya is done next day’s Moola’s dwiteeya paada.
Mahaashtami Nirnaya: If Ashtami is mixed even by a negligible time at the Suryodaya Kaala then Ashtami is called as Namavi.Similarly if Saptami is mixed with Ashtami at the Sun Rise even by one ghadi then that Tithi is not determined as Ashtami. The combination of Tuesday and Ashtami Tithi are notable and highly auspicious. Incidentally, those who have sons should not observe Upavaasa on this Ashtami; at least they should consume even a little food.
Maha Navami Nirnaya: In case the previous day has sixty ghadiyas and on the following day there is a muhurta or so, then the previous day is taken as Navami and excepting Bali daan, Upavaasa and Puja be performed in the Ashtami Viddha. Similarly, Navami- yukta Balidaan be performed in Dashami Viddha Navami. In the Ashtami and Navami Sandhikaala one has to perform a Sandhi Puja separately. There is a need to implement a Homa after Navami Puja. Since no homa is done in the nights, this has to be necessarily done in the day time itself. This homa needs to be accomplished with the Durga navaakshari Mantra or with the Sapta shati Mantra of Namo Devavyai Maha Devayai etc. The Homa dravyaas include ghee mixed with white Tilaas, ‘Paayasam’/ ‘Ksheeraanna’, Kishuka Pushpa, Yava, Durvaasa, Shri phala, Rakta Chandana, Nuts /Supari, bilwa etc. The Homa Sankhya is to be one tenth of the Japa Sankhya. At the end of Navami Vrata and Homa, Brahmanas should perform Devtodwaasana, Paarana, Brahmana Bhojana and Dakshinaadi Daanaas.
As regards Bali Vidhana ( sacrifice) in the Nava Raatraas, ‘Maasha Sahitaanna’ or ‘Kushmaanda’or Pumpkin are the appropriate items as far as Brahmanas are concerned; as already mentioned above in the Preface of Navaratri Vrataas, Brahmanena Pashu maamsa Madyaadi Bali daaney, Brahmantwa bhrashtata! ( If Bali is given by Brahmanas in terms of Madya Maamsaas, Brahmantwa is lost forever!
Chhatra Puja: During the Nava Raatraas, the ancient custom followed by Kings was to observe ‘Lohaabhisaarika Vrata’ and Chhatra Puja during the first eight days from Patipada to Ashtami of Ashwiyuja Shukla Paksha. The Puja involves installation of the Pratimaof Indra’s Divine Horse called ‘Ucchaishrava’ and worshipped by Homaas and formal Puja while ‘Pratyaksha’ or live ‘Gajaashvaas’ are duly bathed, cleaned and displayed along with their Royal Insigniyas or ‘Raja Chinaas’ like ‘Chhatra Chaamaras’ or Umbellas and Huge Hand-carried Fans with colourful Vastras on their backs. The Divine Horse as also the live Royal Animals are worshipped with ‘Neeraajana’ or camphor light. The ‘Ashirwaada’(blessing) Mantras signify: ‘ Let the Ashva-Gaja generations thrive forever and let their ‘Vamshaas’ generated out of the grace of Brahma, Soma and Varuna continue for ever to serve the Kings and their families well to enable their administration providing peace and contentment to their Subjects.
Vijaya Dashami Celebrations: The Treatise of ‘Nirnaya Sindhu’ states that even there is a fraction of Shravana Nakshatra yoga at the ‘Aparaahna’ of that day, then that day be considered as Dashami or else on the following day. The custom had been that none should leave the boundaries of their village or township on that day without performing Aparajita Devi Puja. It is on this day’s Aparaahna that the residents of the villages or townships assemble at the ‘Shami Vrikshaas’ towards Ishaanya , clean up the area, decorate a raised platfom with ‘Ashtadala Padma’/ or Lotus of Eight Leaves and perform Puja to the Idols of Aparajita Devi and Vijaya Devi with ‘Shodashopachaaraas’or the prescribed Sixteen Services and at the end of the worship pray to them reciting : Imam Pujaam maya Devi yadhaa Shakti Niveditam, Rakshaarthantu samaadaaya Vraja swasthaana muttamam/ After the prayers the Vrata is concluded reciting : Haarnena tu Vichitrtena bhaswat Kanaka mekhala, Aparaajita bhadrataa karotu Vijayam mama/ (May the Mangalakaari Aparajitaa Devi as ornamented in gold with Kati Sutra or waist band and so on bestow to us with propitiousness and victory always. Brahmana priests would the convey the blessings of the Devi to the King and Subjects to say : Yatrayam Vijaya Siddhartha! Those who are desirous of undertaking any type of Auspicious Task including Travel on Vijaya Dashami day are most certainly blessed, irrespective of Muhurta, Taaraa Phala or Chandra phala: Ashvayuja Shukla Dashami Vijayaakhyaakhiley Shubhaa,Prayaaney tu visheshena kim Shravanaanvita! ( Ashvayuja Shukla Vijaya Dashami is the most auspicious day to take up travels or any other Shubha Karyaas; more so if that day is of Shravana Nakshatra!)
Ashwiyuja Karma: Rigvedis perform this karma on Pournami. In case the Parva is of ‘dwividha sandhi’ or of Chaturdashi and Pournami, then the Karma is ‘Prakruti Vishti’or worthy of initiation in the Purvaahna Sandhi and terminable or ‘Vikritishta’ in the Aparaahna Sandhi. Karaka Chaturdashi Vrata: is observed on Ashwiyuja Krishna Chaturthi on the lines of Sankata Chaturthi.
Go-Vatsa Dwadashi: This is observed on Ashwina Krishna Dwadashi and should be at Pradosha Kaala only; if Pradosha Time coincides with Dwadashi it would be in order but otherwise, the Vrata would have to be held on the following day. Worship is done to Cow and Calf by offering Arghya in copper vessels with the Mantra: Ksheerodaarnava sumbhutey Suraasura namskritey, Sarva Deva maye Maatargrihaanaarghyam Namostutey/ Then Naivedya is offered by way of fried ‘Maasha Sthaalipaakam’ avoiding cow products of milk, ghee and curd followed by ‘Neeraajana’ with lit-camphor. The Kartha himself should consume ‘Maashaanna Bhojana’ and sleep on ground observing celibacy.
Deepavali Celebrations: Naraka Chaturdashi Nirnaya: Ashwina Krishna Chaturdashyaam Chandrodaya vyaapinyaam Naraka bheerubhishtila tailaabhyaangana snaanam karyaam/ ( Those who are afraid of Narakaas should perform oil and tila snaana in the early hours of Amavasya and thereafter wear Tilaka or Sindur). Thereafter the Grihastis should execute Yama Tarpana reciting Yamaaya Namaha-Yamaam tarpayaami with tilodakaas three times either in ‘Savyopaveeta’in the normal position of the Sacred Thread to Devataas and in ‘Apasavya’ manner invoking Jeeva Pitrus; in both the cases the Karta should face South but in the case of Devataas, the Tarpana has to be from the right finger tips and in the case of Jeeva Pitrus [ Kashyapa, Atri, Vashishtha, Vishvamitrra, Goutama, Bharadwaaja, Jamadagni, Angira, Kutsa, Bhrugyadi Rishis; Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanaatana, Sanatkumaara, Kapilaadi Divya Manushyaas] from the middle of Angushtha and Tarjani /Thumb and fore-finger. To Yama Devata the invocation would be as follows: Dharma raajaaya namah, Mrityavey namah, Antakaaya namah, Vaivaswataaya namah, Kaalaaya namah, Sarva bhuta kshayaaya namah, Dadhyaya namah, Neelaaya namah, Parameshthiney namah, Vrikodaraaya namah, Chitraaya namah, Chitraguptaaya namah/ At the pradosha time of Chaturdashi, there would be Deepa prajjvalam or fulfledged illumination all over in the temples, praakaaraas, streets, Goshaalaas, Hasti-Ashwa shaalaas, market places and in each and every house! This kind of illumination should for three evenings in a row! Tulaasamsthe Saharaamshou pradoshey Bhuta darshayoh, Ulkaahastaa Naraah kuryuh Pitrunaam maargadarshanam/ Tatra Daana mantrah:Agni dagdhaascha ye jeevaapyadagdhaah kuley mama, Ujjvala jyotishaa dagdhastey yaantu oparamaam gatim/ Yamalokam parityajja aagataa ye Mahaalaye,Ujjvala jyotishaa varta prapasyantu vajrantu tey/ Asyaam Nakta bhojanam mahaa phala pradam/ (While Surya is in Mesha at Pradosha time on Chaturdashi, human beings should show the way in the full illumination made for Naraka Chaturdashi by way of Ulkaas to Pitru Devataas who would have arrived for their Shraddhaas in the Mahalaya Pakshaas . The relevant Mantra for giving away Daana in this connection in favour of the visiting Pitru Devaas is: May all the Pitru ganaas who were dead and burnt in Agni -or not burnt in Agni formally- be redeemed to attain Mukti. May those Pitraas who came out from Yama loka to receive the Shraaddha Tarpanaas offered by their progeny on Earth in connection with Mahalaya Pakshaas be shown the way by the illumination made on Chaturdashi celebrations from Earth through by the Ulkaas or Meteors! Human beings experiencing the Illuminative Celebrations on the Ashwiyuja Shukla Chaturdasi Pradosha are suggested to better observe Nakta Bhojana on that day.
Amavasya vidhis on Deepavali day: After performing Yama Tarpana and Pitru Marga Darshana on the previous day, there should be the observance of ‘Pratah kaalaabhyangana’ in the early morning hours of Amavasya, Nitya Karmaas followed by ‘Aparaahna Parvana Shraaddha’ to Pitru ganaas and at Pradosha Samaya the worship of Devi Lakshmi. In view of the Darsha Shraaddha in the Aparaahna and Pradosha Puja of Lakshmi, bhojana during the Amavasya Day is disallowed except for children and the elders.