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Navratri is celebrated four times in a year. Two times, Navratri falls in the Chaitra and Ashwin months and is called Open Navratri or Pratyaksh Navratri. The other two times, Navratri takes place in the Ashadh and Magh months and is known as the Secret Navratri or Gupt Navratri. The festival is called Gupt Navratri because very few people know about it. The festival is mainly observed by the Sadhakas.
The most general practice that is observed during all the four times Navratri is celebrated is paying homage to the Goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga. All the nine forms of Devi Durga are revered during the nine days of Navratri.
The Difference Between Pratyaksh And Gupt Navratri
Pratyaksh Navratri is celebrated with a huge ceremonial display with family and friends, whereas the Gupt Navratri is celebrated in a secluded way only in Devi Durga's company. The Goddess is appeased by chanting Tantra Mantras and other types of strong invocations.
Gupt Navratri is celebrated in the month of July (in Ashadh month) as well as around February or March (in Magh). It is also a nine-day festival just like the Pratyaksh Navratri; however, it is completely dedicated to Devi Varahi.
The Rituals Of Gupt Navratri
The Gupt Navratri days prove to be very promising for the Sadhakas and Tantriks. It is also considered to be auspicious for people who want to carry out particular rituals. Devotees keep fasts and chant mantras and shlokas to appease the Goddess. The Goddess also listens to the prayers of her devotees and bestows them with her blessings. The Goddess is revered in 3 forms - 1) Goddess of Knowledge, 2) Prosperity and Wealth Giver and 3) Remover of Immoral Habits.
The detailed prayers are offered to the Goddess in a secret way during all the 9 days of Gupt Navratri. These secret chants include the Durga Saptashati Paath which is taken from Markhandeya Puran. These chants tell the legend of Goddess Durga, how she gained the powers of all the mighty gods to battle against Mahishasura (the Demon). The mantras also narrate how the Goddess found victory over evil. Apart from Saptashati, Devi Mahatmya and Shrimad Devi Bhagvat are some other chants that are practiced during this period to invoke the Goddess.
The Tantric mode is the most famous and is largely practiced during the Gupt Navratri period.
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Benefits Of Gupt Navratri
The following are the main benefits of Gupt Navratri:
1) Gupt Navratri is celebrated to appease Goddess Shakti and the Goddess bestows her devotees with prosperity, health, wealth, happiness, knowledge and all the other necessary positive energies.
2) Devi Durga alleviates the pain and suffering of her devotees.
3) If specific rituals are performed daily together with the Durga Saptashati chants, it is believed that the Goddess shows extreme kindness to the distressed people.
4) Gupt Navratri removes all kinds of fears and anxiety and the devotees gain immense confidence.
5) The most famous mantra which is chanted during Secret Navratri is, "Aim Hreem Kleem Chamundaye Vicchhe". This powerful mantra can ward off all kinds of evil and negative forces and also make the devotees stress-free and fear-free. This mantra should be chanted a maximum number of times to reap the benefits.
Thus, we can see that Gupt Navratri is a secret festival where you can fulfill your specific desires by chanting specific mantras. The most sincere followers must keep fasts for all the nine days. Those who can't fast on all days can do it every three days, like on the first day, then on the fourth day and then on the ninth day. Fruits and milk can be taken during this period. Many people also fast on the first and the ninth day of the Navratri.