With the month of Sharad approaching and the holiday season coming upon us, it is time to invite and welcome prosperity in our homes. Connecting us to the divine, the first celebration in the holiday season belongs to the all-powerful Durga and her nine forms, which the country endearingly calls the Navratri. The name of the festival means nine nights, which aptly describes the pomp and rigor of devotees who keep their spirits up and pray to the Goddess Durga for nine days straight.
And although 4 such events are spread throughout the Hindu Calendar, the Navratri celebrated in the waning cycle in the month of Ashvin is the most famous and celebrated one. This is the reason that Sharadiya Navratri is also sometimes referred to as the Maha Navratri. Celebrated with colorful performances of Garba in Gujarat and immense devotion for Durga Puja in West Bengal, Navratri excites and celebrates the spirit of people. But how did the festival came to be? And what is the significance of each day of Navratri?
Legend of Navratri
According to the Devi Bhagwat Purana, Lord Ram invoked the Goddess Durga during the battle with the demon king Ravana to gain victory against him. Following all procedures, rituals, and prayers, Lord Ram finally pleased Durga who blessed him with the victory. 2 days later, Ram defeated and slew Ravana on Vijayadashmi.
A legend predating this is mentioned in the Markandeya Purana that speaks of the Demon King Mahishasura. With his worship to Lord Brahma, the demon obtained the boon of immortality. Misusing his power, he began to kill innocent people and won over the three Lokas (worlds), scaring the gods of Swargaloka (heaven). The gods then prayed to Lord Shiva for help, who then combined his powers with Brahma and Vishnu to create a female warrior and diety, called Adishakti Durga.
Mahishasura was smitten by her beauty and propositioned her to marry him. The Goddess agreed with the condition that if Mahishasura could defeat her in battle, she would marry him. As the fight continued for 9 days, Durga finally defeated Mahishasura on the 10th day. Hence, the 9 days of celebration for Navratri are a commemoration of Durga’s various forms and powers, while the 10th day is known as Vijayadashmi (Victory on the 10th day).
What the 9 Days of Navratri Mean?
It is believed Durga took 9 forms at various times to fulfill a divine purpose. And these 9 forms are the ones that are prayed to during the nine colorful and pompous nights of Navratri.
Maa Shailputri : The Devi celebrated on the day of ”Sthapana’ of Navratri, Maa Shailputri is the daughter of the Himalayas, which gave her the other name of Parvati. She embodies the power of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and blesses her devotees with completion in life.
Maa Brahmacharini : The Goddess of penance and good conduct, this form of Goddess Durga is said to have originated from Lord Brahma himself. A symbol of love and loyalty, Maa Brahmacharini also has a stronghold on Wisdom and Knowledge
Goddess Chandraghanta : Also known as Chandika and Rannchandi, the Goddess has a crescent moon (Chandra) on her forehead, and her roar sounds like a tumultuous bell. Worshipping her takes away the sins of her devotees.
Goddess Kushmanda : The Goddess whose name means ”a little warm cosmic egg,’ Maa Kushmanda is known to reside in the inner universe and radiates an aura like the sun. She is believed to have created the universe with her resolve when only darkness prevailed all over. Worshipping her on the 4th day provides the devotee with long life, popularity, and strength.
Maa Skandmata : As her name means ”the mother of Skanda,’ which was another name given to the God of War, Kartikeya. Also known as Parvati and Maheshwari, Maa Skandmata’s idol rides a lion, carrying her son ”Skanda’ with her and is worshipped on the 5th day.
Goddess Katyayani : Believed to be created out of the spontaneous anger of the holy trinity, Goddess Katyayani is the one who killed Mahishasura, riding on the lion given to her by Goddess Parvati. Because the rays of anger coming from the gods were provided a proper form by the Sage Katayayana, the Goddess came to be known as Katyayani, ”the daughter of Katyayana.’
Maa Kalaratri : Known to be the fiercest form of Navdurga, Goddess Kalaratri is known to be the destroyer of darkness and ignorance. The dark color of the skin, uncombed hair, a necklace resembling lightning, and fierce eyes are the characteristics of Maa Kalaratri. Since she is known to destroy evil, worshipping her on the 7th day gives the devotees relief from any evil spirits.
Goddess Mahagauri : Known for her extreme compassion and her beautiful complexion, Maa Mahagauri’s idol itself has symbols of assurance and grace. Clad in a white sari and riding a bull, Mahagauri is worshipped on the 8th day of Navratri and is known to grant boons to her devotees by helping them channelize their thoughts towards productivity.
Maa Siddhidatri : With her name awarding her the title “the one who gives supernatural power,” Goddess Siddhidatri is known to bestow her devotees with boons of divine aspirations and relief from the mundane life. Celebrated on the final day of Navratri, Goddess Siddhidatri is believed to be the Goddess that Lord Shiva prayed to for attaining “Siddhi” or supernatural powers.
Navratri is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in the country, and it takes up several different forms in different states. While the forms of worship differ, the crux remains the same, to pay respect to the power of Goddess Durga. For more information on how to begin, celebrate, and please the Navdurga on this Navratri, meet the top Astrologer in India, Pandit Pawan Kaushik. Get in touch with the expert either at his office or through his website, to get a more efficient and personalized solution to your troubles.