Navratri is a festival dedicated to worship the Hindu Goddess Durga. In Sanskrit, the word ‘nava’ means nine and ‘ratri’ means nights i.e. ‘nine nights’. Each of these nine days of Navratri is dedicated to a particular Goddess who is worshiped on that day. The first form of Maa Durga is Shailputri, who was born to the King of Mountains. In Sanskrit, Shail means the mountain and ‘putri’ means daughter. Goddess Shailputri is an absolute form of Mother Nature and is also referred to as Goddess Parvati, the companion of Lord Shiva and mother of Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya.
As per the Mythology, it is said that Shailputri in her earlier birth was the daughter born to, Daksh Prajapati. She was named as ‘Sati’ and was married to Lord Shiva. In a sacrificial ceremony planned by Daksh Prajapati, he offended Lord Shiva as he was not in favor of this marriage. In this unendurable situation, Sati sacrificed her body and jumped into a yogic fire.
In her next birth she incarnated as Goddess Parvati, the daughter of Parvatraj Himalaya. Like her previous birth in this life also, she got married to Lord Shiva. Among all the nine forms of Goddess Durga, she has been referred to as Shailputri or Himavati. Hence, on the first day of Navratra, she is worshiped with great devotion and zeal.
Before the festival of Navratri, people clean their houses and even get them white-washed. This festival starts off with placing images of Goddess Durga at homes, temples and pandals. Devotees shower their prayers towards the Goddess in forms of bhajans and mantras. Also, they offer her fruits and flowers. Since all the nine days are dedicated to different incarnations of Maa Durga, the rituals vary each day.
The ritual starts with the Ghatasthapana where Goddess Shailputri is worshiped with flowers, rice, roli and sandalwood. Also, a Kalash is filled with 7 kinds of soil (Saptmritika), clay, nut and five kinds of coins. Below this Kalash, 7 kinds of grains and barley seeds are sown, that are harvested on the tenth day. These crops are then offered to all gods and goddesses.