The first day of Saraswati Puja during Navratri Puja is called Saraswati Avahan. Avahan refers to invocation of Goddess Saraswati.
Saraswati Pradhan Puja:
Second day of Saraswati Puja is Saraswati Pradhan Puja day, which refers to the main Saraswati Puja day.
The third is Mahanavami. Durga Puja performed on Maha Navami starts with Mahasnan and Shodashopachar Puja.
On Maha Navami day, Goddess Durga is worshipped in the form of Mahisasuramardini, who is the destroyer of the Buffalo Demon. As per legends, Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura on Maha Navami day.
Depending on the beginning time of Navami Tithi on the previous day, Maha Navami Puja and Upavas might be performed on Ashtami Tithi. There is specific rule which says that if Ashtami and Navami merge before Sanyakal on Ashtami Tithi, then Ashtami Puja, Navami Puja as well as Sandhi Puja should be done on the same day.
But, Durga Balidan is always performed on Uday Vyapini Navami Tithi. As per Nirnaysindhu, Aparahna Kaal is the most suitable time to perform Balidan on Navami.
On Maha Navami day, Navami Homa is performed, which is a very significant ritual during Durga Puja. It is suggested to perform Navami Homa at the end of Navami Puja, which is the best time for Homa.
Saraswati Balidan Puja:
The third day of Saraswati Puja during Navratri is called Saraswati Balidan day.
The fourth and final day of Saraswati Puja during Navratri is called Saraswati Visarjan or Saraswati Udvasan.
Saraswati Avahan Benefits:
Success is the sum of all small efforts repeated day in and day out. But a divine touch of luck can make things much easier and sweeter for an individual. Goddess Saraswati is the lord of knowledge and wisdom, the two most important ingredients required for the recipe of success. Devotees may seek her divine blessings to seek knowledge and wisdom and climb the ladder of success by overcoming all the hurdles of their life.
Rituals during Saraswati Avahan:
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) 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.
Importance of Saraswati Avahan:
In the Hindu religion, Goddess Saraswati is known to be the deity of music, wisdom, arts and science. She is known by different names like ‘Sharada’, ‘Mahavidya Nila Saraswati’, ‘Vidyadayini’, ‘Sharadamba’, ‘Veenapani’ or even ‘Pustaka Dharini’. Goddess Saraswati is also referred as ‘Tridevi’ and resides in her abode, Brahmapura. The Goddess has four arms and always wears a white sari. Her mount or ‘vahana’ is a swan, hansa or peacock. Being the consort of Goddess Saraswati, Lord Brahma created the Universe using Her knowledge. Goddess Saraswati is therefore worshipped by devotees with full zeal and dedication. They ask for Her divine blessings to seek knowledge and wisdom and reach the ladder of success by overcoming all the hurdles of their life. The followers of Jainism worship Goddess Saraswati with full devotion. Also in Buddhism, She is revered as the guardian deity for Her help in conserving the teachings of Gautama Buddha.