First day of the puja of Goddess Saraswati during the Navratri celebrations is known as ‘Saraswati Avahan’. The word ‘avahan’ signifies invocation and therefore this ritual is observed to invoke the blessing of Goddess Saraswati.
Usually the last three days of grand Navratri Puja is dedicated for worshipping Goddess Saraswati. The practice of Saraswati Avahan is observed on the ‘Mahasaptami’ (7th day) during the Shukla Paksha (the waxing phase of moon) in the Hindu calendar month of ‘Ashwin’. It corresponds to the month of October-November in the English calendar.
Saraswati Avahan 2020 is on October 21, Wednesday
In the sacred Hindu scriptures, the times for worshipping Goddess Saraswati are explicitly mentioned. It is stated that Saraswati Avahan should be performed during the ‘Mool Nakshatra’, the actual Saraswati puja should be performed during ‘Purva Ashadha Nakshatra’, the Balidan puja is done during ‘Uttara Ashadha Nakshatra’ and the Visarjan of Goddess Saraswati should be performed during ‘Shravana Nakshatra’. In the state of Maharashtra and some regions of South India, Saraswati Puja starts with Saraswati Avahan and finishes with Saraswati Visarjan on the day of Vijaydashmi.
Rituals during Saraswati Avahan
The Saraswati Avahan is observed during the auspicious muhurat of Mula Nakshatra and the total duration of this puja lasts for nearly 5 hours. However the exact time of Saraswati Avahan may vary each year.
For the Avahan of Goddess Saraswati special mantra is recited to invoke Her blessings. In this mantra, the Goddess is praised and the devotees seek Her protection and guidance.
As a part of the puja, there is a ritual of washing the feet of Goddess Saraswati, which is followed by a ‘sankalpam’. After this the idol of the Goddess is decorated with kumkum and chandan (sandalwood paste) and this ritual is known as ‘alankaram’. Incense sticks and flowers are also offered to the deity.
On the occasion of Saraswati Avahan, special food offerings in the form of ‘Naivedyam’ are prepared for offering to the Goddess. As white is considered to be Her favourite color, all the savouries and sweets are made keeping this in mind. After the completion of puja, the naivedyam is distributed as ‘prasad’ amongst all the devotees gathered for the ceremony. Later bhajans are also sung by devotees in the praise of Goddess Saraswati. Some people also observe a fast on the day of Saraswati Avahan.