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Shakambhari Navaratri: How to observe Pausha Shukla Ashtami to Purnima

While devotees worship the Durga form of Shakti during Chaitra and Sharadiya Navaratri but Ma Shakambhari during Shakambhari Navaratri

Religious Hindus observe Shakambhari Navaratri with the onset of Pausha Shukla Ashtami (aka Banada Ashtami or Banadashtami) up to the Shakambhari Purnima/Jayanti of the fortnight. While most Navaratris begin on Shukla Pratipada, this one starts on Ashtami and ends on Purnima in the Hindu calendar of Pausha.

The Shakambhari Navaratri lasts eight days, except for a few seven-day or nine-day observations in some years. This happens due to skipped tithis. This year, it will last eight days.

Theology of Ma Shakambhari

The ninth chapter of Lakshmi Tantra describes Ma Shakambhari as one of the forms of Devi Bhagawati. When humans were suffering from severe famine and food crises, Shakti incarnated as this goddess to end their pain. The goddess resides on a lotus and holds an arrow, vegetables and a luminous bow in her hands.

Lakshmi shares her deed with Indra in the Lakshmi Tantra:

O Sakra, men will then extol me as the hundred-eyed (deity) and I shall nourish the whole world with wonderful life-sustaining plants issuing from my own body and filled with (my essence: dvistaih). Then, Vasava, the gods will worship me as Sakambhari (the embodiment of vegetation).

Lakshmi Tantra, Chapter 9

After the demon Durgamasura tried to plunge the earth into drought and scarcity, human beings suffered 100 years of suffering after which some sages invoked Lakshmi. The delay owed to the fact that the asura had made the rishis forget the Vedas. Lakshmi appears in a dark-hued blue form, casting her hundred eyes on the sages. When they extol and chant the hymns for Her, the four-armed goddess appears bearing a lotus, arrows, a bow, vegetables, fruits, flowers and roots.

According to the Devi Bhagavata Purana, seeing the misery of the people, Lakshmi showers tears from her eyes incessantly, which turns into a streaming river. She also offers medicines. It is after this phenomenon that She addresses Indra (as mentioned above).


The Drik Panchang says Shakambhari Navaratri will begin this Thursday, 18 January, and end on Thursday, 25 January. The Ashtami for Shakambhari puja started on 17 January at 10:06 PM and will end on 18 January at 8:44 PM. This Navaratri Purnima will begin on 24 January at 9:49 PM and end on 25 January at 11:23 PM.

Believers celebrate Navaratri four times a year. Devotees worship the Durga form of Shakti during Chaitra and Sharadiya Navaratri but Ma Shakambhari during Shakambhari Navaratri. Ma Shakambhari (Sanskrit “shāka” — vegetable) is the goddess who bestows vegetables, fruits and green leaves. The depiction of the deity includes green surroundings of fruits and vegetables.

This Ashtami, devotees will wake up early and bathe for purification. They begin by worshipping Ganesha. Then, they pray to Ma, meditate, keep a murti or chhavi of the deity in the place of worship, sprinkle waters from the Ganga, arrange fresh fruits and seasonal vegetables in front of Ma and visit a Shakta temple. North Indian Hindus offer halwa-puri, fruits, vegetables, sugar candy and dry fruits to the goddess.

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