Chaitra Navratri 2024: The Spiritual Significance Of Kanya Pujan

On Durga Ashtami and Ram Navami, the eighth and ninth days of Navratri, people worship and feed young girls or kanyas.
Navratri

(left) Actor Shilpa Shetty during Kanya Pujan; (right) Goddess Durga.

Chaitra Navratri is celebrated by the Hindus from the first day of the Luni-Solar calendar. It's a nine-day event and it will be celebrated from 9 April 2024 to 17 April 2024, this year.
While many follow fasts during these nine days, the fasting ends with people performing the Kanya Pujan on Durga Ashtami (8th Day) and Rama Navami (9th Day).
Navdurgas also known as the nine forms of the Hindu goddess Durga are worshipped during this time. The nine forms of goddess Durga include Maa Shailputri, Maa Brahmacharini, Maa Chandraghanta, Maa Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Maa Katyayani, Maa Kaalratri, Maa Mahagauri and Maa Siddhidatri.
During Kanya Pujan, Kanyas or girls (below 12 years) are worshipped by people who invite them to their homes, feed them and give them gifts. According to the Devi Bhagwat Puran, it is believed that these young girls are manifestations of Goddess Durga. As a result, nine girls and one boy, known as Langur, are worshipped and treated to a feast, known as Kanjak Puja or Kanya Pujan.
It's commonly believed that these little girls have a mother divine residing in them. Worshipping them means, that you have received the blessings of goddess Durga.

The Story Behind Kanya Puja And Its Significance

According to popular beliefs, Goddess Durga manifested as a young girl (kanya) to defeat the demon Kalasura and liberate the world from his tyranny. Devotees view young girls as the avatar of the Goddess during Navratri and worship them, honouring the nine forms of Devi.
This ritual symbolises the compassionate and protective nature of feminine energy, shielding individuals from negative emotions such as ego, hatred, jealousy, and attachment. Through the reverence shown to young girls, society reaffirms the importance of respecting women's roles as guardians and nurturers. It encourages the abandonment of stereotypical beliefs about women, promoting their independence and confidence.

Procedure For Doing The Kanya Pujan

Devotees traditionally welcome nine young girls, into their homes. They ceremonially wash the girls' feet, tie sacred threads around their wrists, and apply vermillion on their foreheads. The girls are revered, with people seeking their blessings and touching their feet in respect. A variety of special dishes referred to as kanjak, including poori, chana, ghee halwa, sweets, and kheer are served to them.
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