What Is The Symbolism Of Navapatrika, The Tree Next To Lord Ganesha During Durga Puja?

by Tejashee Kashyap
What Is The Symbolism Of Navapatrika, The Tree Next To Lord Ganesha During Durga Puja?

As Durga Puja begins to be celebrated with fervour, it is crucial to recognise and appreciate the symbolism and significance of the Navapatrika. This significant and unique component of Durga Puja adds depth and meaning to this grand festival. This festival is marked by elaborate rituals, cultural performances, and artistic displays. But one of the lesser-known yet highly symbolic elements is the Navapatrika.

The Origins Of Navapatrika

The concept of Navapatrika dates back to ancient Bengal, where the worship of female deities has deep roots. Navapatrika is carefully dressed in a crimson and white saree on Saptami (the seventh day of Durga puja). Then it is placed gently on a palanquin or carried by a priest on his shoulder. While Durga Puja itself has been celebrated for centuries, the inclusion of the Navapatrika is believed to have evolved over time.

On Maha Saptami, the Navapatrika is bathed and adorned with sindoor (vermilion), turmeric, and flowers. A small banana or plantain is often dressed in a sari to represent the goddess. The Navapatrika is then placed next to the idol of Durga, and both are worshipped together. The culmination of the ritual involves immersing the Navapatrika in water, symbolising the return of the goddess to nature and the regeneration of life.

Also read: Delhi’s Durga Puja Thrives In CR Park; Unfold The Timeless Story Of Durga Puja In Mini Bengal

Components Of Navapatrika

The nine leaves and plants that make up the Navapatrika represent different goddesses and elements:

  • Banana Plant: The central leaf or plantain represents the goddess Durga herself. It symbolises the divine feminine energy and the mother of the universe. The banana plant denotes fertility and abundance
  • Turmeric Plant: Turmeric leaves symbolize Mahakali, the fiercest form of Durga. Turmeric has antiseptic properties and denotes purifying qualities.
  • Bel Leaves: Bel leaves represent Mahalakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. The bel tree is sacred in Hinduism.
  • Arum Plant: Arum leaves symbolize Mahasaraswati, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge. Arum is also used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
  • Pomegranate Plant: Pomegranate leaves signify Kartik, the son of Durga. The plant denotes symbols of fertility and abundance.
  • Ashoka Plant: Ashoka leaves represent Shokh or Shokla, another name for Durga. The Ashoka tree denotes love and compassion.
  • Paddy Plant: The paddy plant symbolises the earth goddess, Bhubaneshwari. Paddy is a staple crop in Bengal, and this element connects the goddess to the land and agriculture.
  • Jayanti Plant: The Jayanti plant is dedicated to Jayanti, a form of Durga. This element is often a flowering plant that symbolizes victory and the triumph of good over evil.
  • Colocasia Plant: Colocasia leaves represent Aindri, another form of Durga. Colocasia is a tuber and signifies nourishment and sustenance.

It’s Significance

If you go to a Durga Puja pandal, you’ll see a tree that looks like a newlywed standing next to Lord Ganesha. Navapatrika refers to its nine leaves, which stand for the goddess Durga’s nine manifestations.

Additionally, the diversity of leaves and plants in the Navapatrika reflects the multiplicity of the divine feminine energy. Durga Puja and the Navapatrika celebration empower women. This reinforces the idea that women are the bearers of life and prosperity.

Many think that the rite heralds the start of the growing season and that the Navapatrika stands in for the grain God.

In other words, how excited are you for Durga Puja?

Cover image credits: Wikimedia Commons

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