Navratri, the 9-day Hindu festival worshiping the various forms of Goddess Durga, culminates in the ritual of Kanya Puja or Kanjak on the final day, i.e. Navami. Kanya Puja is an important part of Sharad Navratri celebrations, especially in North India.
As per traditions, young girls representing the nine forms of Devi are worshiped, fed, and gifted by devotees on Ashtami or Navami of Navratri. Read on to know the Kanya Puja 2023 date and more details about this ritual.
Kanya Puja Date 2023
In 2023, Shardiya or Sharad Navratri starts on October 15th and ends on October 24th. The festival of Kanya Puja will be celebrated on the following dates:
- Kanya Puja on Ashtami – 23rd October 2023 (Monday)
- Kanya Puja on Navami – 24th October 2023 (Tuesday)
Many devotees observe Kanya Puja on Ashtami while most observe it on the Navami tithi. These are the two main days for performing the Kanya Puja ritual in Navratri 2023.
Significance of Kanya Puja
Kanya Puja is a significant ritual that honors femininity and girl children as forms of the Goddess herself.
As per Hindu scriptures, Maa Durga exists in the energy of every female - whether girl, maiden, mother, or elder. Doing Kanya Puja in Navratri is equivalent to worshiping the Devi in her pure, an innocent form untainted by the material world.
It is also believed that the unconditional blessing of the young girls pleases Maa Durga and brings good luck, prosperity, and protection to one's family. The girls are seen as the embodiment of the three main goddesses - Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
Rituals of Kanya Puja
Here are the key rituals followed for Kanya Puja during Navratri:
- Inviting Nine Young Girls: Ideally nine girls up to the age of 10 representing the nine forms of Durga are invited home and treated as guests.
- Swagat and Worship: The girls are welcomed and made to sit on a jhoola or chowkis. Their feet are washed and tilak is applied to foreheads.
- Chanting Mantras: The girls are worshipped using mantras praising the feminine energy and Durga’s attributes.
- Feeding the Girls: Traditional food like kheer, puri, halwa, and chana is served to the girls along with gifts.
- Seeking Blessings: Devotees touch the girls' feet and take their blessings, considering them as Devi's avatar.
- Bidding Farewell: After the puja ends, the girls walk back and bid farewell to Dakshina.
- Donating to Temples: Many also donate items to temples on the day of Kanya Puja.
Ideal Age of Girls
For the Kanya Puja ritual, girls between the ages of 2 to 10 years are ideal. Girls who have not attained puberty are preferred as they represent the pure, childlike innocence of the Goddess.
Sometimes, eleven girls including one Kumari or virgin girl are also invited. Menstruating girls are excluded from the rituals as per traditions.
Explore the significance and customs of Kanya Puja, a cherished Hindu tradition honoring young girls during Navratri. Learn about its cultural and spiritual importance.
What to Offer During Kanya Puja
On the day of Kanya Puja, devotees prepare several items to be gifted to the little girls representing forms of Durga Maa. Here are some popular offerings:
- New clothes, traditional outfits like lehenga-choli or saree
- Accessories like bangles, bindis, mehendi, hair clips, etc.
- Toys, dolls, books for the girls
- Sweets like ladoo, barfi, halwa, and kheer
- Fruits like banana, apple, and mango
- Betel leaves and nuts (paan-supari)
- Gift items like stationery, small earrings, and purses
- Dakshina or cash gifts offered to the girls
- Food items for their families like rice, sugar, sweets, cooking oil, etc.
Significance of the Nine Girls
In Kanya Puja, each of the nine young girls holds significance as different avatars of Maa Durga which are worshiped.
- Kumarika – The kumari or virgin girl represents Durga in her purist form
- Trimurti – She symbolizes the trio Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga in one
- Kalyani – Auspicious maiden who removes obstacles
- Rohini – The nourishing abundance of Mother Earth
- Kaalika – The ferocious form of Durga who destroys evil
- Sambhavi – Represents Durga born from Parvati’s divine energy
- Siddhi Dayini – Granter of accomplishments and successes
- Ambika – The supreme mother goddess that nurtures all
- Jagatpuri – Universal mother who creates, nourishes and protects all
Kanya Puja is thus an extremely important Navratri ritual honoring femininity, girls, and motherhood. By worshiping young girls as embodiments of the Divine Mother during Navratri, we show our reverence for the feminine spirit. This ritual also promotes the well-being and education of girls in society.
Q1. When is Kanya Puja in 2023?
A1. In 2023, Kanya Puja will be celebrated on October 23th (Ashtami) and October 24th (Navami) during Sharad Navratri.
Q2. How many girls are worshiped during Kanya Puja?
A2. Traditionally, 9 young girls representing the 9 avatars of Goddess Durga are worshiped during the ritual. Some may also worship 11 girls including one kumari or virgin girl.
Q3. What are the items gifted to girls during Kanya Puja?
A3. On Kanya Puja, girls are given new clothes, accessories, toys, books, sweets, fruits, betel nuts, cash donations and food items for their families as offerings. The gifts signify honoring the femininity and purity of the Divine Mother.