New Delhi: In Sanskrit, the word Navaratri means “nine nights,” with nava standing for “nine” and ratri for “nights.” Nine goddesses are worshipped over the course of nine days. Devotees all over India are preparing to celebrate Chaitra Navratri, a nine-day festival, with great enthusiasm. The festival is important because it heralds the arrival of spring and the triumph of virtue over evil in the Hindu calendar. This festival is observed in various ways across the nation by various groups.
The nine forms of Goddess Durga:
Worshipping the goddess Durga, who is revered as a representation of strength and power, is the most significant aspect of the festival. Tradition has it that during the nine days of Navratri, nine distinct forms of the goddess are worshipped, each of which symbolises a different aspect of her character.
The form Shailapuri is associated with the first day of Navaratri, known as Pratipada. She is called Shailputri since she is the mountain King’s daughter and is visualised holding a lotus in her left hand and a trident in her right. There is also a crescent on her brow.
She is also known as Vrisha Roodha because she rides a bull.
It’s interesting to note that she was Sati in her former life, King Daksha’s daughter. After her father humiliated Lord Shiva (her husband) by not inviting him to a Yagnya attended by the other Gods and Goddesses, she committed suicide by setting herself on fire.
She oversees the Moon and stands in for Mother Nature. People worship her in order to heal their ailments by offering pure ghee at her feet.
Hindus worship Brahmacharini on the second day of Navaratri, known as Dwitiya. Her name means “one who practices ardent austerity.” She enlightens us about the majestic Durga incarnation, which possesses enormous strength and exquisite grace.
Dressed in a white saree, there is a water utensil in Brahmacharini’s left hand which represents marital joy, while a rosary on her right hand represents the particular Hindu prayers offered in her honour. The goddess strolls around in bare feet while holding the holy Kamandalu in one hand and a rudraksha mala in the other.
According to Hinduism, she bestows pleasure, tranquillity, wealth, and grace upon every one of her worshippers and she is on the path to liberation or Moksha. Devotees offer Goddess Brahmacharini sugar for the longevity of the family members.
Chandraghanta is worshipped on the third day of Navaratri, known as Tritiya. Her head is adorned with a bell-shaped crescent moon, thus the name Chandraghanta.
She is seen with 10 hands while mounted on a tiger. Additionally, she holds a lotus (kamal), a bow (dhanush), an arrow (baan), and a japa mala on her right side; and a trident (trishul), a mace (gada), a sword (talwar), and a kamandal on her left. Her other two hands are in the abhaya mudra and vara mudra, respectively.
Devotees offer kheer and ask for her blessings in order to be shielded from evil.
Kushmanda is worshipped on the fourth day of Navratri, known as Chaturthi. Her name means ‘Creator of the universe’, for she is known to have brought light to the dark cosmos.
She embodies vitality and exudes the Sun’s brilliance. She is depicted as the one with eight hands while being mounted on a tiger, a form which symbolizes strength and courage in the face of adversity.
She holds a discus (chakra), a mace (gada), a japmala, and a pot in her left hand; while a lotus (kamal), a bow (dhanush), an arrow (baan), and a kamandal in her right.
Malpua is offered to Maa Kushmanda by devotees.
Worshipped on the fifth day, known as Panchami, Goddess Skandmata is the mother of Skanda or Kartikeya. Kartikeya was chosen by the Gods as their commander-in-chief in the war against the demons. Emphasizing her pure and divine nature, Skanda Mata is seated on a lotus, and she has four arms and three eyes.
Durga in this incarnation holds lotuses in her two hands and has a newborn Skanda on her lap. She is said to have the ability to bestow upon her devotees- strength, salvation, wealth, and prosperity.
Devotees worship her with bananas, as it is the favourite fruit of the Goddess.
Goddess Katyayani is worshipped on the sixth day of Navaratri, known as shashti.
She is an incarnation of Durga who was born to the sage Katyayana and is depicted as exhibiting courage. Referred to as the warrior goddess, she is one of Devi’s most aggressive manifestations. Katyayani has four hands and a lion as her avatar.
With wild hair and 18 limbs, each holding a weapon, Katyayani is a terrifying sight, much like Kalaratri, who is adored the night after. Her body radiates a bright light that darkness and evil cannot hide from since she was born in a burst of heavenly fury and indignation. Hindus believe that despite how she seems, she may give devotees a sense of tranquillity and inner peace. Like Kushmanda, Katyayani rides a lion, ready at all times to confront evil.
Devotees offer Honey as prasad to Devi Katyayani.
Considered the most ferocious form of Goddess Durga, Kalratri is revered on the seventh day, known as Saptami.
According to tradition, she gave up her light skin tone and adopted a dark complexion in order to slay demons. She is a donkey-riding, four-armed goddess who possesses a sword, trident, and noose. Her left hand are holding a sword and an iron hook, while her right hands are in the Abhaya and Varada Mudras.
The goddess adopted this appearance to destroy the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha. On her forehead, she possesses what is said to be the universe’s third eye.
Jaggery is offered to Devi Kalratri as prasad to alleviate suffering, remove impediments, and provide bliss.
Mahagauri is worshipped on the eighth day of Navaratri, known as Ashtami. It is said that Kalaratri supposedly acquired a warmer complexion after taking a dip in the Ganga river. Hindus believe that by honouring Mahagauri, all past, present, and future misdeeds would be erased, bringing about a profound sense of inner serenity.
She is seen riding a bull, one of Hinduism’s most revered animals, while dressed in white. She frequently has four hands on her body. In her upper right and left hands, she is holding a trident and a damroo, respectively. In her lower hands, she is bestowing blessings on her followers by displaying the Abhaya and Varamudra.
Devotees offer coconuts to Goddess Mahagauri.
People pray to Goddess Siddhidhatri on the ninth day of the festival, also known as Navami. The meaning of her name is ‘provider of extraordinary strength.’
Hindus believe that Siddhidatri may bestow wisdom and insight onto humans who approach her and that she can also do the same for gods who pay homage to her.
Siddhidatri rides a lion, just like some of Durga’s other forms. Mata Siddhidhatri is seen with four hands- holding a gada, lotus, the chakra, and a conch while sitting on a lotus. She is a physical representation of the abstract goddess Adishakti, who is revered by Lord Shiva.
Sesame seeds are offered to Devi Siddhidatri by devotees for safety and security from unnatural events.