Maha Saptami is day 7 of the 10-day long Durga Puja festival. Saptami means 7 in Sanskrit. This Hindu festival is celebrated all over India. It is also celebrated in other countries around the world where the Indian diaspora has settled. In India, the festival is celebrated with special fervour in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Odisha, and Sikkim.
Public Holiday Dates
The dates of Maha Saptami in 2021 falls on October 12, Tuesday.
Maha Saptami is celebrated on the 7th day of the waxing moon called ‘'Shukla Paksha’' in the Hindu calendar month of ‘'Ashwin’'.
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The Maha Puja of the Durga Puja festivities begins on the day of Maha Saptami because this is the day that the legendary battle between Goddess Durga and the demon king Mahishasura began. This is a festival that celebrates the victory of the Goddess over the demon.
The battle ended on Vijayadashami day, which is the 10th and last day of the Durga Puja festival. It is symbolic of the victory of good over evil, not just in the world, but also in the hearts and minds of human beings all over the world.
The legend of Lord Rama
Maha Saptami also has a legend surrounding Lord Rama associated with it. According to this legend, Lord Rama prayed to Goddess Durga before commencing his battle with the demon king Ravana, who had abducted his wife Sita. This special ‘puja’ had to be done with 100 blue lotus flowers called ‘neelkamal’ but Lord Rama could only find 99 such flowers. In order to complete the ‘puja’ and out of his intense devotion to Goddess Durga, Lord Rama plucked out his own eye, which was blue, and offered it to the Goddess in place of the one missing blue lotus. This pleased the Goddess a lot resulting in her showering him with all her blessings, which helped him win the war against Ravana. This battle started in the month of Ashwin on the 7th day, which is called saptami. Hence the celebrations on that day.
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The festival is celebrated in different ways all over India. In West Bengal, special tents called ‘'pandals’' are set up with specially decorated enormous statues of the Goddess in her avatar as ‘'Mahishasuramardini’ or ‘'The slayer of Mahishasura’'. People are dressed in all their finery and visit the pandals with their loved ones. Special sweets and savouries are prepared at homes and in the pandals.
Some of the traditional rituals associated with the festival of Maha Saptami are as follows:
Navapatrika: This is a bathing ritual where nine plants are tied together and taken to the river Ganges for a bath before the sun rises. The nine plants that are used are turmeric, bel, ashoke, jayanti, pomegranate, banana, paddy, colocasia, and arum. These nine plants represent the 8 goddesses that the Goddess Durga created to be her warriors in the battle against Mahishasura. The ninth plant represents the Goddess Durga herself.
Mahasnan: Here, a mirror is treated as the personification of the Goddess Durga and is placed to reflect the image of the Goddess idol in front of it. This mirror is given a ritual bath.
Prana Prathishta: A pot that is filled with holy water and covered with a coconut surrounded by five mango leaves is placed in front of the idol of the Goddess. This is consecrated by a priest with the spirit of the Goddess while chanting divine hymns. After this, the Goddess is worshipped using 16 special items.
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