Bengali traditions & culture/ Festivals & Occasions

Durga pujo rituals, believes and special food menu series – MahaNavami

Aaj MahaNavami

durga puja 2017

Today is the ninth day of Navratri and fourth and final day of Durga pujo. MahaNavami rituals begins with mahasnan and shodashopachar puja like other days. Mahanavami tithi / timings begins right after Sandhi puja on MahaAshtami and continues till the next day.

Today goddess Durga is worshiped as Mahishashur-mardini, the annihilator of demon king Mahishashur. The fierce battle that had lasted for undefined period of time has culminated today with the death of Mahishasur.

Devi Durga who is manifestation of Goddess Chandi – the fierce and powerful form of Goddess Shakti,  aadiparashakti, the primordial cosmic energy , one who is responsible for creation, sustenance and destruction of this entire cosmos. She is the sum total of the energies of all beings in this universe. Goddess Chandi is an embodiment of power and all the divine forces.

But after the fierce battle, the bloodsheds, the negativity in the cosmos and the battle that has virtually  destroyed every living being in the universe, Chandi home (fire oblation) is performed to please goddess Chandi so that world order can be reestablished, vegetation can grow and a renewed, revitalized, luxuriant and fertile Earth could be formed that can sustain lives once again.

Hence Chandi homa is traditionally being performed in Bengal on MahaNavami, by reciting shlokas and chants from Durga Saptashati. This homa is performed as per the vedic and tantric traditions following the Shaktism tradition.

Homa is usually followed by aahuti or balidaan. In Bengal there was a tradition of sacrificing  goat on Navami, the meat was then cooked in vegetarian way, that is without onions and garlic (we call it niramish mangsho / vegetarian meat) and then distributed among the devotees. This dictates the tradition of eating non-veg during Durga puja, specially mutton on Navami night.

But now a days, many homes had strictly banned the animal sacrifice and instead a symbolic bali is performed mostly on white pumpkins or chaalkumro.

Keeping up with this tradition, Navami bhog is no longer a khichuri-labra ritual, but instead a lavish spread of pulao-mangsho, luchi, fish curries and so on. But point to be noted that all such dishes, even the non-veg dishes are prepared without use of onion and garlic. Navami bhog takes an interesting turn with each family going gourmet today and decked up the food platter with fancy and gourmet Bengali delicacies.

Here goes my Navami platter –

Hope you have loved this series,


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