Durga Maha Navami Puja
Maha Navratri or Sharad Navratri is the most significant of the four Navratris and Mahanavami falls on the ninth and last day of the Navratri festival. This year, it will be observed on October 18, 2018.
It marks the final day of the long drawn battle between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura, who was defeated at her hands on the tenth day or Vijayadashmi. People offer prayers to the Goddess and worship her as Mahishasuramardini – the slayer of the buffalo demon.
In parts of India, teenage girls, who have not attained puberty, are worshipped as Durga. They dress up like the Goddess and receive offerings in the form of halwa, puri, chana, clothes, and other gifts by devotees who invite them to their houses for the ritual. People wash their feet and decorate it with alta.
While in the northern part of the country, people bid farewell to the Goddess who is supposed to make a journey back to her abode safely in heaven, in the eastern belt, they do it after a day – on Dashami. People observe this day by starting with a holy bath, which is then followed by a special Shodhasopachar of the deity. In many parts of Bengal, it is celebrated with great pomp and show. Huge pandals are set up and devotees throng it in great numbers. People wear beautiful clothes, go out with family and friends for pandal hopping, and partake in various cultural events like the popular dhunuchi naach.
On this day, the goddess is offered sugarcane stalks. Navami Homa is also performed after the end of the puja and a Maha Arti is organised.