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Durga Puja is the biggest festival of the eastern Asian countries. In India it is celebrated vigorously. If this autumn festival is celebrated as 'Durga Pujo’ at West Bengal, Gujarat and Maharashtra rejoice it with Gaarba and Dandiya. Whatever the style is, the main theme is to worship Goddess Durga. All people pray the goddess for strength, wisdom and knowledge.
Durga Puja is celebrated as Navratri which starts from the next day of Mahalaya. In Bengal, the 'Chokhudaan’ (painting the eyes of the idol) ceremony is done on the 'Mahalaya’. Then, on the sixth day, the goddess is welcome through 'Bodhon’. Finally, puja starts from the next day, Maha Saptami. Every day of the Durga Puja has its own significance. The festival is obviously celebrated with pomp and glitter but there is a high importance of Maha Saptami in Navratri.
What is the significance of Maha Saptami? Actually, according to the Hindu mythologies, Goddess Durga killed Mahisasura, the demon king after the battle of nine days. It is the victory of virtue over evil. On the seventh day, the Goddess commenced war against the buffalo demon which ended with his death on Vijaya Dashami (the 10th day). So, besides enjoying the day in new dress and makeup, have a look on the importance of Maha Saptami-
1. Bathing Navapatrika- The most important significance of Maha Saptami is the bathing ceremony of Navapatrika. Here, the nine plants (banana, pomegranate, turmeric, jayanti, ashoke, bel, arum plant, colacassia and paddy) are tied together and taken to the river Ganges at pre-dawn for bathing. The puja starts after that.
2. Significance of Nine Plants- To understand the importance of Maha Saptami, you must know the significance of those plants. During the war, Devi Durga created 'Ashtanayika’ (eight war partners). These eight goddess and Devi herself symbolize “NavDurga”. The nine plants stand for each impersonation of the Goddess.
3. Tied by Clitoria Ternatea- Yes, the scientific name is confusing you. It is the plant of “aparajita” or koyala. After bathing the nine plants, all are tied with the plant. Actually, this symbolizes the eternal victory of Devi Durga over Mahisasura. Practically, it stands for the ultimate triumph of virtue over evil.
4. Worship of Goddess Saraswati- Significance of Maha Saptami includes the worship of Devi Saraswati. Mainly, in Kerala, Goddess Durga is worshipped as Goddess Saraswati on the seventh day of Maha Saptami. They keep books and music instruments before her and pray for insight and knowledge.
5. Maha Snan- Importance of Maha Saptami can’t be described completely without this. Goddess Durga is treated as the dearest daughter. So, a mirror is placed in a way that the reflection of Goddess Durga can be seen in the mirror. This mirror is given the ritualistic bath which is known as Maha Snan.
6. Prana Pratishtha- A pot filled with holy water is placed before the deity. A bunch of five mango leaves and a coconut is placed on the pot. It is believed that the priest consecrate the Goddess on that pot with divine chants and hymns. Then the goddess is worshipped with sixteen special puja items.
So, here is the importance of Maha Saptami. The puja is elaborated with bhog and aarti. Slowly the Maha Saptami proceeds and the Maha Ashtami is celebrated the next day. The celebration becomes huge with the sounds of dhaak. Finally, after the Maha Navami, time comes to say adieu to the daughter. She will return to her husband’s house at Mount Kailash.