Nabapatrika is a part of Durga Puja in Bengal. The word Nabapatrika literally means the leaves of nine trees. Although in reality it is not nine leaves, but nine plants (Nabapatrika plants). The nine plants are: Kadali or Rambha (banana) plant, Maankachu (colocasia) plant, Haridra (turmeric)plant, Bel (wood apple), Dalim (pomegranate) stem, Ashoka stem, Jayanti stem, twigs of white Aparajita plant and Dhanya( rice) plant.
According to the custom, on the morning of Mahasaptami, the nine plants mentioned above is tied together. Then Nabapatrika is taken to the nearest river or a pond. The priest carries it on his shoulder. Behind him the drummers go to play the drums and the women go to play conch shells and uludhani.
Photo credit: prokerala
After the snan (bathing) Nabapatrilka is wrapped in a red-white sari, shaped like a veiled bride; Then the Nabapatika is brought to the temple and placed on a wooden throne to the right of the Durga i.e. next to Lord Ganesha.
The main ceremony of Durga Puja begins with the entry of Nabapatrika in the Goddess Durga temple. For the rest of the day of the Durgapuja festival, Nabapatika is worshipped along with other deities. According to folk beliefs, Nabapatrika or Kalabou is known as the wife of Ganesha, but it is completely wrong.
Significance of Nabapatrika
The nine plants of Nabapatrika are collectively signify Navdurga or the nine special aspects of Goddess Durga. Nine different plants used in Nabapatrika symbolize the nine forms of the Mother Goddess. Kadali plant represents Goddess Brahmani, Maankachu plant symbolizes Goddess Chamunda, Haridra plant represents Goddess Uma, Bel symbolizes Goddess Shiva, Dalim plant denotes Raktadantika, Ashoka symbolizes Shokarahita, Jayanti denotes Goddess Kartiki and Dhanya plant represents Goddess Lakshmi. Actually, Nabapatrika is the adoration of Mother Nature.