What is the Navaratri Kanjak Pooja?•
Posted on March 04 2023
The Navaratri Kanjak Pooja, as the name indicates, is performed during the Navaratri festival. The pooja is usually done on the eighth (Ashtami) and/or ninth (Navami) day of the festival. This ritual entails the worship of nine young girls below the age of 10 who have not attained puberty and a boy of more or less the same age.
The nine girls are believed to represent the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga while the boy symbolises Lord Hanuman. Some devotees consider worshipping only nine girls. The importance of choosing children is that they are blessed with pure souls and have no evil or negative emotions within them.
The pooja is also known as Kanya Pujan or Kanjak Pooja and is accompanied by bhog as prasad. This bhog is essentially wheat pooris, sooji halwa whipped in ghee and milk with various garnishes and fried black channa. In some parts of the country, sattvic aloo tamatar or aloo gobi is also prepared along with the channa. Some devotees also offer the children coconut chunks and little dried fruit.
How to Do the Navaratri Kanjak Pooja
Devotees clean their homes thoroughly and welcome the young children into their homes wholeheartedly with a devout mind. Often, the children are chosen from different varmas or castes and age groups as this is believed to help in worshippers having their desires fulfilled. For example, a person who wishes to acquire knowledge must worship a Brahmin child while one who wants power should pay his/her obeisance to a child from the Kshatriya community.
This is followed by washing their feet and drying them. Devotees then proceed to apply turmeric powder on the feet of the children. After this, they are made to sit in a straight line on a clean cloth. The children are then worshipped by burning incense sticks and offering akshat or unbroken rice grains along with the chanting of a mantra dedicated to Goddess Durga. After the worship, the devotees tie a kalava or red coloured holy thread on the wrists of the children and apply a tilak on their foreheads.
The children are then treated to the bhog with love and given gifts like cash, clothing, jewellery and other items. Finally, the devotees touch the children’s feet as a mark of respect and to gain their blessings before sending them back home.
The Story Behind Navaratri Kanjak Pooja
According to a legend, Goddess Durga once took the form of a young girl or kanya with the purpose of defeating the demon Kalasura and putting an end to his tyrannic rule in the world. The demon won over the various gods and occupied the heavens. The gods felt helpless and sought the help of Goddess Mahakali to overcome the situation. The goddess obliged and took rebirth as a young girl and slayed the demon.
Devotees see this form of the deity in the nine girls and worship Her nine forms through them during Navaratri. The ritual also emphasises on the compassionate nature of feminine power and releases one from the grasp of attachment and several other negative traits like jealousy, bad feelings, hatred and ego. The pooja also reinstates the fact that women have to be respected for their roles as a nurturer and a protector and must be encouraged to become confident and independent.
Benefits of Navaratri Kanjak Pooja
The Navaratri Kanjak Pooja has various benefits associated with it. Some of these benefits are listed below.
- The ritual preserves our country’s age-old culture and tradition of giving dakshina and donations.
- The pooja is a reminder that we are integrated with the divine force and hence it is our duty to safeguard this force within us.
- The ritual develops a feeling of equality among individuals and ushers good thoughts and positivity in them.
- As per the Devi Bhagavata Purana, observing the nine-day fast followed by the Kanjak pooja is an opportunity for devotees to render their heartfelt gratitude to the goddess and have their desires fulfilled by her.
- The pooja is a reminder to one and all that women must be empowered and respected just as much as men.
- The ritual puts an end to the miseries of the devotees and enhances their financial situation.
The pooja can be done at any time irrespective of day or evening. However, most devotees opt to do the pooja in the morning hours as they break their fast only after offering prasad to the nine girls. Although Ashtami and Navami are the most often preferred days for the Kanjak Pooja, some devotees perform this pooja on each of the nine days. In this case, they invite one girl on the first day, two on the second and so on with nine girls on the ninth day.
Hindus believe that it is important to please the children with the rituals in order to win the hearts of the nine goddesses. Although the pooja is carried out across the country, it is majorly popular in North India in Delhi and a few states like Punjab, Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. The pooja is undertaken to acknowledge the feminine power. If you are not able to find nine girls to do the pooja, you can opt for five or seven girls instead.
Written by - Deepthi K