Navratri Puja is performed with utmost devotion. Sunrise is considered to be the most auspicious time for the Navratri Puja. Family members seek god blessings by worship of different forms of Goddess Durga. During Navratri, which begins on 18th March 2018/10th October 2018, it is common for the devotees to recite Durga Stuti.
Navratri Puja is mostly performed in all households to seek blessings of the Gods and Goddesses. The small temples and the idols are cleaned early in the morning. Then one should get ready and wear fresh clothes and arrange for the Puja items like diyas, flower garland, coconut, idols, moli (sacred thread), utensils, etc.
During Puja, the mantras are chanted and a shower of panchamrit (milk, honey, curd, tulsi & ganga jal) is offered to the Goddess. After the shower, goddess is offered flowers, kumkum, sindur and rice. Then lamp is lit with pure ghee for the worship (puja / arti) and the prayers are offered by placing a flower garland along the idols.
The fire lamp with pure ghee is lit mostly for nine days continuously also referred as Akhand Jyot, which signifies the love and devotion for the god. All family members join the Navratri Puja and pray for the prosperity and well being of all. In some cases, Akhand jyot and Khetri bheej are kept in the temple under the supervision of a pandit / priest, mainly by the working ladies… as Akhand Jyot needs to be kept under check and filled with ghee, from time to time. Also some plant barley seeds in a mud pot on the very first day of Navratri (also known as khetri beej) and place it in worship room along with fire lamp which lits continuously (Akhand Jyot) during Navratris to invoke Goddess Shakti.
There is a tradition to recite Durga Stuti (during Sharad Navratri) and Ramayana (during Chaitra Navtratri) from the very first day till the day of Bhog, which can either be Ashthmi or Navami. In temples, Priests also recite Durga Stuti/Ramayana during Navratris. After the puja at home, people visit temple for the blessings and offer Ganga Jal and milk to Shivalinga. Huge crowds can be seen at some of the famous temples like Jhandewalan Mandir in Delhi, where people stand in queues whole night to seek blessings of the Goddess and offer mata ki chunni (red dupatta). Visiting Vaishno Devi in the state of Jammu & Kashmir during Navratris is also considered auspicious and simlar scenes can be observed there also.
In the northern states, on the day of Ashthmi or Navami, there is a tradition to perform Kanya puja / Kanjak, by inviting small girls at home and worshipping them by washing their feet (because they are considered form of Goddess Durga), placing tilak on their foreheads and tying moli (red colored sacred thread) on their wrist. They are then served with prasadam which includes Poori, Chana, Halwa and also cash and other gifts are offered to them.
In 2019, Sharad Navratri in September 2019: Navratri begins 29th September 2019, while Ashthmi would fall on 06th October 2019 and Navami on 07th October 2019. Chaitra Navratri begins 25th March 2020, while Ashthmi would fall on 02nd March 2020 and Navami on 03rd April 2020 also.