All the girls surely miss their childhood for one huge reason: being invited for Kanya or Kanjak puja during Navratri. It used to be so much fun, as they would receive invitations from so many houses in the neighborhood. They would receive princess treatment, delicious food, and gifts at the end. Those were the days! Well, but do you know the significance of Kanya Puja during Navratri? Let us help you with that.
All About Kanya Puja
Hindus perform the sacred Kanya puja, particularly on the eighth and ninth days of the Navratri celebration, Ashtami and Navami. The main focus of the celebration is the worship of nine females, who stand in for the nine incarnations of the Goddess Durga (Navadurga). These girls are regarded in Hindu philosophy as the embodiment of the creative force.
According to legend, Shakti assumed the form of Goddess Durga on the ninth day of Navaratri at the devas’ request to destroy the monster Mahisasura. Another legend states that Devi Durga took the form of a young girl to kill the demon Kalasur.
The reason behind the worship is that women represent Mahamaya in the ideology of ‘Striyah Samastastava Devi Bhedah’. Because of her innocence, a girl child is even regarded as the purest of them.
This Hindu ceremony of inviting and worshipping nine young girls mainly takes place in Navratri in Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh. It takes place during Rama Navami in some other states.
On this day, devotees fast by inviting young females into their homes. This rite is believed to be carried out to thank the Supreme Goddess.
The ninth day of Navratri, also known as Ashtami, is when devotees welcome nine young girls—sometimes as many as 18—to their houses.
- They invite children to sit on a special pedestal, generally a bit elevated.
- Their feet are washed and then wiped with a clean towel.
- Their right wrists are bound with a holy thread (mouli), which is used during puja in Hindu culture.
- A tikka of vermillion is applied to their forehead with some grains of rice. It is believed that the grains of rice must stick to the forehead.
- Their blessings are seeked by touching their feet.
- They are served a variety of meals, which include poori, chana, ghee halwa, sweets, and kheer.
- Lastly, when they leave, they are given gifts like new outfits, bangles, chocolates, napkins, and money.
The nine divine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped as Brahmacharini, Andraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalarati, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri.
These days, many households also invite a boy and nine girls. It is believed that while the nine girls are nine goddesses, a boy with them symbolises Lord Hanuman. Lord Hanuman walks in with these goddesses as their “rakshak,” or saviour.
How is this Navratri celebrated in your state?
Cover Image courtesy: @anuragrajpurohit
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