Our lifestyles are based upon the environment around us. Their occurrence and observance are well defined and celebrated even by our Vedic Scriptures. The beginning of the summer months or the ‘vasant ritu’ is earmarked by the onset of Vasant Navratri or the Chaitra Navratri.
The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit. ‘Nava’ meaning Nine and ‘Ratri’ meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Goddess Shakti (metaphor for goddess Durga ) i.e. female divinity are worshipped. These are some of the most auspicious and celebrated days as per the Hindu Calendar, specifically in North India.
Gudi Padwa or Samvatsar Padvo is celebrated as the first day of the year by Maharashtrians and Konkanis. It is the first day of the Chaitra Navratri and is also celebrated as ‘Ugadi’ in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Story Behind Celebrating Chaitra Navratri and Gudi Padwa
The story of Navratri begins with King Dooshibago of Kosala who was killed by a lion during hunting. Prince Sudarsana was to be crowned as the King. But, King Yudhajit of Ujjain, the father of Queen Lilavati, and King Virasena of Kalinga, the father of Queen Manorama, were each desirous of securing the Kosala throne. Thus, a battle was fought amongst them. King Virasena was killed. Manorama fled to the forest with Prince Sudarsana and a eunuch. They took refuge in the hermitage of Rishi Bharadwaja.
King Yudhajit, then crowned his grandson, Satrujit, at Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala. He searched for Manorama and her son. The Rishi said that he would not give up those who had sought protection under him. Yudhajit wanted to attack the Rishi. But, his minister told him about the Rishi's statement and his powers. Yudhajit returned to his capital empty handed.
Prince Sudarsana was lucky. A hermit's son came one day and called the eunuch by his Sanskrit name Kleeba. The prince caught the first syllable Kli and began to pronounce it as Kleem. This syllable happened to be a powerful, sacred Mantra. It is the Bija Akshara (root syllable) of the Divine Mother. The Prince obtained peace of mind and the Grace of the Divine Mother by the repeated utterance of this syllable. Devi appeared to him, blessed him and granted him divine weapons and an inexhaustible quiver.
The emissaries of the king of Benares passed through the Ashram of the Rishi and, when they saw the noble prince Sudarsana, they recommended him for Princess Sashikala, the daughter of the king of Benares. Thus, Princess Sashikala was duly wedded to Prince Sudarsana. King Yudhajit, who had been present at the function, was upset with the king of Benares. Devis helped Sudarsana and his father-in-law. Yudhajit mocked the great Devi, upon which Devi promptly reduced Yudhajit and his army to ashes.
Thus Sudarsana, with his wife and his father-in-law, upheld and worshipped the Devi. She was highly pleased and ordered them to worship her with havan and other means during the Vasanta Navarathri. Then she disappeared.
Prince Sudarsana and Sashikala returned to the Ashram of Rishi Bharadwaja. The great Rishi blessed them and crowned Sudarsana as the king of Kosala. Sudarsana and Sashikala and the king of Benares performed worship rituals for the divine mother, the Devi in a splendid manner during the Vasanta Navaratri. This is the story behind celebrations of Chaitra Navaratri.
According to the Brahma Purana, Lord Brahma created the world on the auspicious day of Gudi Padwa and time began to tick from this day itself.
Why is it Celebrated
Chaitra Navratri marks the first day of the Hindu calendar. It also earmarks the beginning of the Chaitra Month and onset of summer months. It is a nine-days long festival in which Goddess Shakti is worshipped in her nine different forms. Gudi Padwa is the marathi New Year celebrated on the same day as 1st day of Chaitra Navratri.
Marathi Gudi Padwa begins at 16:53 pm on 7th April, 2016 until 13:05 pm on 8th April, 2016. The Chaitra Navratri will be celebrated in the year 2016, from 8th April, 2016 to 16th April (Dashami), 2016.
Chaitra Navaratri is the most auspicious period of devotional sadhanas and worship of Goddess Shakti. Goddess Shakti is basically worshipped in three different forms of Goddess Durga, Goddess Laxmi, and Goddess Saraswati. It is believed if a person truly worships the Devi in its vital forms in these days, all his wishes come true and is freed from all bondages. Worshipping Goddess Shakti on Gudi Padwa wards off evil and invites prosperity into the house.
Products to perform the puja
The nine forms of Goddess Shakti worshipped each day respectively are:
Depending upon a person’s health, he or she may fast and consume very light food once a day. An anushthan of japs or havans done in these nine days are also considered very auspicious.
The specific mixture of Bevu-Bella made by mixing Neem leaves and jiggery is eaten on the day of Gudi Padwa. An oil bath followed by a warm water bath is also considered auspicious on Gudi Padwa. The entry door should also be well decorated to bring in the New Year with happiness and prosperity.