Bilva Nimantran is performed on Shashthi Tithi when it prevails during Sanyakal. It may happen that Shashthi ends before Sanyakal, but it has been prevailing during Sanyakal on the previous day or Panchami Tithi. If it happens so, then Sanyakal on Panchami Tithi may be considered more appropriate for doing Bilva Namantran.
During Durga Puja, most people take Shashthi Tithi for Kalparambha, Bodhon, and Adhivas & Amantran without bothering whether it prevails during Sanyakal or not. Religious texts suggest that the combination of Sanyakal and Shashthi is the most suitable time for Bilva Puja.
However, Navpatrika Pravesh is always performed on Saptami Tithi irrespective of the fact that Bilva Nimantran is performed on Panchami due to the non-availability of Sanyakal Shashthi on the following day.
Kalparambha, Bodhon and Adhivas & Amantran are the main rituals on the first day of Durga Puja, which usually occur one day before Navpatrika Puja.
Kalparambha is done early in the morning, if possible, during Pratahkal. The ritual of Kalparambha ritual involves installation of a water-filled Kalash and offering worship to Goddess Durga. Sankalpa is taken, which is the firm resolution to perform Pujas and rituals during the next three days, viz., Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami.
Bodhon is also known as Akal Bodhon and is performed during Sanyakal. Bodhon literally means awakening. As the name indicates, Goddess Durga is symbolically awakened during this ritual. As per Hindu mythology, it is believed that all Gods and Goddesses sleep for six months during Dakshiyana. Since Durga Puja happens in the middle of this period, the Goddess Durga is first awakened before starting worship. It is said that Goddess Durga was first awakened by Lord Rama who sought the blessing of the Goddess before his battle against the ten-headed Demon Ravana. Because of the untimely awakening of Goddess Durga, Bodhon ritual also got the name Akal Bodhon.
The ritual of Bodhon involves installing a water-filled Kalash at the base of Bilva tree. Bilva tree is also known as Bel tree whose leaves are the extremely sacred for Shiva Pujan. During the Bodhon ritual, prayers are offered to awaken Goddess Durga.
Adhivas and Amantran rites are performed after Bodhon. Avahana refers to the invocation of Goddess Durga, and after Avahana, symbolically installing the Goddess Durga in Bilva is known as Adhivas. Before installing Goddess Durga into it, Bilva tree is sanctified.
After Adhivas, Goddess Durga is invited to accept the Navpatrika Puja of the next day. The ritualistic invitation of Goddess Durga is known as Amantran.
Significance and Legend:
According to a Hindu legend, a Buffalo Demon Mahishasura, after years of praying to Lord Brahma, was granted a boon which made him invincible. Any man or God could not kill him. After gaining power, Mahishasura started destroying the world. He began to kill people and became a threat for Gods. To annihilate Mahishasura, Goddess Durga emerged from the collective energies of Gods as a divine feminine power. The victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura is celebrated during Durga Puja.
Another popular legend says that Goddess Durga visits her mother’s place during Sharda Navratri.
Celebrations and Rituals:
Durga puja begins with Bilva Nimantran which is performed on Panchami Tithi. Sanyakal on Panchami Tithi is considered more suitable for conducting Bilva Namantran. As per the religious scriptures, a combination of Sanyakal and Shashthi is the most appropriate time for Bilva Puja. Bilva Aamantran is one of the main rituals on the first day of Durga Puja, which mostly falls on Panchami or Shashti Tithi. The ritual of Bilva Nimantran is performed to invite Goddess Durga for Puja. Ritualistically Inviting Goddess Durga is known as Nimantran. ‘Bilva Nimantran’ is performed ideally during Sayankaal on Shashthi. But if Sanyakal prevails on Panchami Tithi, then Panchami Tithi is an auspicious time for ‘Bilva Namantran.’ Durga Puja begins with Bilva Nimantran day. Goddess Durga is invoked in Bilva Tree or its branch before sending a puja invitation to her for the next day. The best time to perform invocation of Goddess Durga is Sanyakal which is approximately 2 hours and 24 minutes before sunset.