The festival of Navratri is celebrated every year in India. This festival is very special for Hindus. Sharadiya Navratri is a very auspicious festival that lasts nine days, and people worship nine different forms of the Goddess – Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri. Kalash Sthapana or Ghata Sthapana takes place on the first day of Navratri. Devotees keep a fast for all nine days, and Kanya Pooja is performed on Ashtami and Navami.
Navratri comes four times in the year. Chaitra Navratri and Sharadiya Navratri are more popular than Gupt (secret) Navratri in the months of Ashadha and Magha. Gupt Navratri is of special importance for Tantra Sadhana. Tantric Sadhana is done at this time to please the Goddess. Sharadiya Navratri enjoys a special significance for Siddhi Sadhana.
Navratri that falls on the Shukla Paksha of Ashadha and Magha months is called Gupt Navratri. Gupt Navratri is not very popular or well-known as it is not overtly celebrated. As it is not well known, it came to be called ‘Gupt’ meaning ‘secret’ or ‘unknown’. Gupt Navratri is very important for people who practice Tantra.
The Pooja of Gupt Navratri is performed in a closed room, and no one is supposed to watch it. According to Hindu rituals, the Pooja of Goddess Durga should not be done in open spaces during Gupt Navratri.
According to mythology, Gupt Navaratri is for attaining perfection in Tantra and Mantra. Durga is worshipped during Gupta Navaratri for becoming adept in such practices.
When is Gupt Navratri?
Chaitriya Navratri and Sharad Navratri are very popular among Hindus. The nine-day festival is celebrated differently in different regions of the country. The Navratris of Magh and Ashadha months, also called ‘Gupt Navratri’, are mainly organized by ascetics, saints, Aghoris, Tantriks, etc. For this reason, common people are not familiar with this Navratri.
Secret of Gupt Navratri
In Gupt Navratri, Mother Durga is worshipped, as in the other two Navratris, but the worship is done secretly at secluded places, like river banks. The Pooja is done by sadhus, sanyasis, tantriks, and Aghoris, and its aim is to seek tantric knowledge and powers by pleasing Goddess Durga. The Pooja involves many kinds of secret rituals, Havan and Yajna. As this Pooja is for attaining siddhi through tantra-mantra, the rituals are performed in isolation, as siddhis are obtained only through secret worship, and hence it is called Gupt Navratri. The nine forms of Durga that are worshipped in Gupta Navaratri are Kalike, Tara Devi, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Chitramasta, Tripura Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Baglamukhi, Matangi, and Kamala Devi.
In Gupt Navratri, Poojas for the ten Mahavidyas are very important. There are 10 Mahavidyas and they are believed to bestow siddhis. The 10 Mahavidyas are said to be the 10 forms of Goddess Durga. Each Mahavidya has the power to solve devotees’ problems by assuming different forms. The Mahavidyas play a key role in tantra sadhna.
Chaitra and Sharadiya Navratri
Chaitra Navratri, also known as Vasanta Navratri, marks the first day of the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Northern India. This Navratri is celebrated during the Shukla paksha of Chaitra month (between March and April). In Maharashtra, the first day of this Navratri is celebrated as Gudi Padwa. This festival is exuberantly celebrated and adds more hues and vibrancy to the colorful spring season.
Sharadiya Navratri is the most popular and important Navratri, and is also called Maha Navratri. It is celebrated during Ashwin month (September- October). This Navratri is widely celebrated all over India. Sharadiya Navratri is dedicated to nine forms of Goddess Shakti – Durga, Bhadrakali, Jagadamba, Annapurna, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika, Lalita, Bhavani, and Mookambika.
Navratri also commemorates the slaying of the demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga. The tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadashami, and it is also the day on which Sri Rama killed Ravana and recovered Sita. In South India, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati are also worshipped during Navratri.
Special Homas, Abishekas, and Poojas are performed during this period. People keep fast, meditate and worship the nine forms of the goddess.
Magha Gupt Navratri 2021 was observed from Feb 12 – 21, 2021. Ashadha Gupt Navratri 2021 will be celebrated from July 11 – 19.