Rituals of Mahasaptami, significance of 'Nabapatrika' worship
Kolkata, Sep 20: Durga puja or Dushera is celebrated with great merriment and enthusiasm. During the last six days of Navaratri, the enchanting festivity reaches it's zenith, with huge bedecked pandals (makeshift tents) adorned with impressive tableaus of Goddess Durga, huge community gathering, feasts and etc.
Rituals for the Mahasasthi puja:
The seventh day of festivities, known as Mahasaptami. On this day the rituals start before daybreak. Nine kinds of plants are worshipped.
This Nabapatrika (nine leaflets mostly tied together) is given a bath, prior to dawn, in the holy river Ganga or by any nearby lake or pond along with the Kolabou (banana tree) as per rituals it signifies the wife of Lord Ganesha. The priest, takes the tree to the pandal, accompanied by a grand procession, which includes many percussionists. The stem of banana tree is draped in a new yellow cloth with a red border saree and is placed next to Lord Ganesha.
This is called the Nabapatrika snan-o-sthapan. This ritual also asserts Durga Puja as a festival that pays homage to the ancient agrarian roots.
Together, they are worshiped. The 'Nabapatrika' or nine plants are symbolic representations of the nine forms of Goddess Durga. Before the main prayer ceremony of Mahasaptami, Kalparambha and Mahasnan are performed.
The Mahasaptami is also considered as the day when Lord Ram started preparing for his legendary battle with Ravan- the ten-headed, demon king of Lanka. History says that he prayed to Goddess Durga to make him successful in this ordeal and the powerful Goddess answered his call, as he defeated the mighty army of Ravan.
Items needed for the Shashthi puja of Goddess Durga:
Food Offerings: Sesame seeds, myrobalan, flowers, two earthen bowls full of atop, green coconut with stalk, wood apple leaves, white mustard, madhupakka (40 or 22 bowls), honey, sugar, noibiddos (40 or 22), one main noibiddo, fruits, items for bhog.
Puja Items: Jute ropes, red thread, alta, four finger rings, four yadnyopaveet, a pot, a mirror, a tekatha, sandalwood, mashkolai, hibiscus flower, small noibiddo, one big earthen lamp, panchapallab, pancha ratna, panchashasha, panchaguri, vermillion, items for arati, items for the yadnya - sand, wood, dry khorke grass, cowdung, kusha grass, ghee, 108 bel leaves and a bowl.
Cloth Offerings: Clothes for the Pundit, a piece of cloth, gamcha for arati, 40 or 22 finger rings made of kusha, sari for nabapatrika, one sari for the main puja, saris for Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Chandi, dhoti for Kartik, Ganesh, Shiva, Vishnu, clothes for nine planets, clothes for peacock, mouse, lion, demon, buffalo, ox, snake, chandmala, a nosering, iron, conch shell.
Plants and flowers offerings: Flower garland, belpatra garland, Banana plant, turmeric plant, colacassia plant, wood apple stem, pomegranate stem, a stem of Jayanti plant, arum plant, rice plant, ashoka stem, twigs of white aparajita plant, two banana stems.