The beginning of the Chaitra month is celebrated as the New Year in several parts of India, with different names and customs. Here are a few ways in which the beginning of Chaitra month is celebrated in different parts of India:
• Ugadi/Yugadi: As mentioned earlier, Ugadi or Yugadi is the New Year's Day for people in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. It is celebrated with traditional rituals, special dishes, and cultural programs.
• Gudi Padwa: Gudi Padwa is the New Year's Day for people in Maharashtra, and it falls on the first day of the Chaitra month. On this day, people hoist a Gudi (a flag-like structure made of cloth and topped with a copper or silver pot) outside their homes to mark the beginning of the New Year. People also prepare special dishes, such as shrikhand and puran poli, and decorate their houses with rangolis.
• Navreh: Navreh is the New Year's Day for people in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and it falls on the first day of the Chaitra month. On this day, people clean their houses and prepare a traditional dish called haakh, which is made of collard greens. People also visit temples and offer prayers to seek the blessings of the gods.
• Cheti Chand: Cheti Chand is the New Year's Day for the Sindhi community, and it falls on the first day of the Chaitra month. On this day, people worship Lord Jhulelal, who is considered the patron saint of the Sindhi community. People prepare special dishes such as sai bhaji and sing sweet folk songs.
• Vishu: Vishu is the New Year's Day for people in the state of Kerala, and it falls on the first day of the Malayalam month of Medam, which usually falls in April. On this day, people decorate their houses with flowers and prepare a special dish called Vishu Kani, which is a display of auspicious items such as rice, fruits, and gold.
Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra: On this day, people hoist a Gudi, a flag-like structure made of a silk cloth and topped with a copper or silver pot, outside their homes to mark the beginning of the New Year.
The use of silk cloth and lota (a small brass or copper vessel) in making the Gudi holds significant importance in this tradition. Here's what they symbolize:
Silk cloth: The silk cloth used in making the Gudi symbolizes prosperity, richness, and well-being. Silk is considered a luxury item, and using it in the Gudi indicates the wish for prosperity and abundance in the New Year.
Lota: The lota used in making the Gudi symbolizes purity, and it is believed to ward off evil forces. In Indian culture, brass and copper are considered pure metals, and the use of the lota in making the Gudi represents the desire for a pure and sacred environment in the home.
Copper or silver pot: The copper or silver pot used to top the Gudi symbolizes victory and achievement. It is believed that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya on this day after defeating the demon king Ravana, and the use of the copper or silver pot represents the victory of good over evil.
Overall, the Gudi is considered an auspicious symbol of good fortune, prosperity, and victory, and its hoisting on Gudi Padwa is believed to bring blessings to the household.
Chaitra Navratri starts from the first day of chaitra month and it culminates with the celebration of Ram Navami. During this festival, devotees worship Devi Mā in her nine forms, seeking her blessings and protection.
The nine forms of Devi Mā worshipped during Chaitra Navratri are:
• Shailaputri: The first form of Devi Mā, Shailaputri is worshipped on the first day of Navratri. She is depicted as riding a bull and holding a trident in one hand and a lotus flower in the other. She represents the power of nature and is associated with mountains and the earth. The first day represents new beginnings and purity.
• Brahmacharini: The second form of Devi Mā, Brahmacharini is worshipped on the second day of Navratri. She is depicted as carrying a rosary and a water pot and represents austerity, dedication, penance, and self-discipline. The second day represents self-discipline and dedication.
• Chandraghanta: The third form of Devi Mā, Chandraghanta is worshipped on the third day of Navratri. She is depicted as having a half-moon on her forehead and riding a lion. She represents bravery, courage, and inner strength. The third day represents courage and inner strength.
• Kushmanda: The fourth form of Devi Mā, Kushmanda is worshipped on the fourth day of Navratri. She is depicted as having eight arms and holding weapons in each of them. She is associated with the creation of the universe and represents cosmic energy. The fourth day represents creativity and the power to create.
• Skandamata: The fifth form of Devi Mā, Skandamata is worshipped on the fifth day of Navratri. She is depicted as having four arms and carrying her son, Skanda, on her lap. The fifth day represents motherly love and protection.
• Katyayani: The sixth form of Devi Mā, Katyayani is worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri. She is depicted as having four arms and riding a lion. She represents the warrior aspect of Devi Mā. The sixth day represents determination and courage.
• Kalaratri: The seventh form of Devi Mā, Kalaratri is worshipped on the seventh day of Navratri. She is depicted as having a dark complexion and wild hair, holding a sword and a severed head in her hands. The seventh day represents the power of destruction and transformation.
• Mahagauri: The eighth form of Devi Mā, Mahagauri is worshipped on the eighth day of Navratri. She is depicted as having four arms and a calm demeanor, holding a trident and a drum in her hands. The eighth day represents purity, inner strength and inner peace.
• Siddhidatri: The ninth form of Devi Mā, Siddhidatri is worshipped on the ninth day of Navratri. She is depicted as having four arms and sitting on a lotus flower, holding a mace and a conch shell in her hands.The ninth day represents spiritual enlightenment and the attainment of divine knowledge.
During Chaitra Navratri, devotees fast, perform puja, and meditate on these nine forms of Devi Mā, seeking her blessings and protection. By embodying the qualities and virtues represented by these forms, devotees hope to cultivate inner strength, courage, and spiritual growth in their lives. Aligning our energies with Devi Mā energies during Navratri can be a powerful way to boost our spiritual practices and connect with our higher self. Here are some ways to do that:
Focus on the qualities represented by each form of Devi Mā: Each of the nine forms of Devi Mā represents different qualities and virtues that we can cultivate within ourselves. By meditating on these qualities and striving to embody them in our daily lives, we can align our energies with Devi Mā energies.
Practice self-reflection and introspection: Navratri is a time for self-reflection and introspection, as we seek to identify and overcome our inner weaknesses and limitations. By taking time to reflect on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationship with the divine.
Perform puja and other spiritual practices: During Navratri, many people perform puja (worship) to Devi Mā and other deities, as well as engage in other spiritual practices like meditation, chanting, and fasting. These practices can help us to connect with the divine and cultivate a deeper sense of spirituality and inner peace.
Serve others and practice compassion: Devi Mā is often associated with compassion and service to others. By practicing acts of kindness and service to others during Navratri, we can align our energies with her compassionate and giving nature.
By aligning our energies with these different aspects of Devi Mā, we can cultivate a deeper sense of spirituality, inner strength, and compassion, and connect with our higher self during Navratri.
The next blog will talk about the ayurvedic perspective of the rituals.
Director. ME Holistic Centre