Kalaratri Puja is a Hindu ritual that is performed to worship Goddess Kalaratri, who is one of the nine forms of Goddess Durga. Goddess Kalaratri is also known as Shubhankari, as she brings auspiciousness and prosperity to her devotees.
Kalaratri Puja is usually done on the seventh day (Saptami) of Navratri, which is a nine-day festival that celebrates the different aspects of Goddess Durga. It falls in the months of September-October (Ashwin) or March-April (Chaitra). On this day, devotees offer prayers, flowers, fruits, sweets etc., to Goddess Kalaratri and seek her blessings for power, wealth and eminent status on earth.
Goddess Kalaratri is considered as the fiercest form of Goddess Durga or Parvati. Her name means “the night of death” or “the dark night”. She has a dark complexion and rides on a donkey. She has four hands and carries a sword, a trident and a thunderbolt in three of them. The fourth hand is in the Abhaya Mudra (gesture of fearlessness). She has three eyes and wears a garland of skulls around her neck. She has long tangled hair and flames emanate from her nostrils.
Goddess Kalaratri represents the power of destruction that annihilates all evil forces and negative energies. She also symbolizes courage, strength and protection. She protects her devotees from all kinds of dangers and enemies. She also grants them wisdom, peace and happiness.
The puja vidhi or procedure for Kalaratri Puja involves waking up early in the morning and taking a bath. Then, a wooden plank is covered with a red cloth and an idol or picture of Goddess Kalaratri is placed on it. The idol or picture is decorated with flowers, vermilion, turmeric etc., and a lamp is lit in front of it. The devotees then take a sankalp (vow) by taking water in their hands in front of the Goddess. They offer water and flowers (red champa) to Goddess Kalaratri seeking blessings for their good health and well-being. They also recite various mantras such as Om Devi Kalratryai Namah or Om Hreem Shreem Kleem Kaatyaayanee Swaahaa while offering flowers or akshata (rice grains) to her. They then perform an aarti (a ritual of waving lamps) and distribute prasad (sacred food) among themselves.
The colour associated with Kalaratri Puja is white, which symbolizes purity, peace and serenity. The devotees wear white clothes on this day to please Goddess Kalaratri.
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