Navratri – Worshiping Nine Forms of Durga
The period of nine days that is from the first day of the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvina month is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu calendar. These nine days are celebrated as Navratri and is the most jubilation time of the year. In these nine days nine different forms of Durga are worshiped as Navdurga. Navratri basically means “Nine Nights”. The worship begins in the evening or night after the whole day fasting. Thus Navratri is the festival of fasting and feasting.
Nine Forms of Mother (Ma) Durga – Navdurga
The name of first Durga is Shailputri which means Daughter of Mountain. It is described in puranas that mata Shailputri was born to Himalaya. In past life she was named Sati and was daughter of Daksha. She married Lord Shiva. When Lord Shiva was not invited in the Yagna organised by Daksha, Sati became intolerant to the insult and jumped in the fire of Yagna. In next life she was born to Himalaya and also got name ‘Hemavathi’ for breaking the pride and ego of devatas like Indra. Shailapuri is known as the most powerful and glorified form of Durga. She holds a trident in her right hand and a lotus in her left hand and rides on an ox.
The second day of Navratri is dedicated to Brahmacharini. The name signifies one who undertakes penances and celibacy. Brahma means meditation and Bhramacharini means one who meditates on the Supreme. She represents virginity, honesty, self-discipline and sacrifice. The story of Ma Brahmacharini is as follows: In previous life she was daughter of Himalaya and was married to Lord Shiva. The sage Narada Muni advised her to take severe penances to win Lord Shiva in this life. Hence she took vow for undergoing strict meditation and thus she is also known as ‘Tapasyaacharini’. She holds a string of rosary beads in her right hand and a kamandal in her left hand. This form of Durga signifies the importance of self-control for the success of endeavours.
The third day of Navratri is dedicated to Chandraghanta. As the name suggests this form of Durga wears half-circular moon on her temple that resembles a bell. She has three eyes and ten arms. The ten arms are decorated with ten different weapons. She is seated on a lion and seems as ready to go for war or fight. She represents bravery and power. The ghanta or bell represents the frightful sound to drive away the demoniac power. Devotees of this form of Durga believe that one who gets her blessings gets extraordinary power and gets rid of all hazards in his life. Her golden complexion represents extraordinary bliss that she bestows on her devotees.
On fourth day Kushmanda is worshiped. “Kushmanda” means the one who creates the universe by her warmth. “Ku” means a little; “ushma” means “warmth” and “anda” means “the cosmic egg”. She has seven hands with seven different weapons in each hand. She rides on lion. Ma Kushmanda represents the creative power of the Supreme.
The fifth form of Durga is known as Skandamata or mother of Skanda or Kartikeya. Kartikeya was born to Lord Shiva and Durga. Kartikeya was chosen by devatas as their commander in chief in the war against the demons. The deity shows that Skandamata is going to fight with demons by placing infant Skanda in her lap or arm. She has four arms and three eyes. Devotees believe that this form of Durga gives success in all the endeavors in the life.
She is the sixth form of Durga. There was a great sage Katyayana who underwent severe penances and worshiped Bhagavati Paramba to get her as a daughter. Mother goddess granted his wish by appearing as her daughter named Katyayani. Ma Katyayani has three eyes and eight hands. She rides on lion with eight different weapons in her hand. Devotees believe that if one worships this form of Durga all the diseases, sorrows and fears are eliminated forever.
Seventh form of Durga is known as Kalratri which literally means dark night. As the name signifies, her complexion is as dark as black night. She has dishevelled hair and fearless posture. Her necklaces shine just as the lighting in the dark night. She has three eyes and emits terrible flames from her breath. She rides on donkey. She has four arms that hold burning torch, sharp sword, lotus and gesture of blessing. She is known as all auspicious for devotees and terrible for demons. Thus she is known as “Shumbhakarni” or one who does good.
Eight form of Durga is worshiped as MahaGauri. Maha Gauri means extremely white. When Goddess Durga was in austerity in the deep forests of the Himalayas, due to surrounding dust her complexion became dark. Then Lord Shiva cleaned her with the water of the Ganges and she became very white and thus the name Maha Gauri. She wears white clothes and has three eyes. She has four hands and rides on bull. She remains calm and peaceful. One who worships her gets unfailing intelligence and tranquillity in his life.
She is the ninth form of Goddess Durga. Siddhi Datri means one who gives siddhis or supernatural powers. There are eight types of siddhis: Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva and Vashitva. In “Devipuran” it is mentioned that Lord Shiva got all these siddhis from her and by her blessing he could manifest as “Ardhnarishvara”-a form of half body as male and half as female. Ma Siddhidatri has four hands and this form of Durga is worshiped by all rishis, munis, siddhas and yogis. She looks blissful and has happy enchanting pose. She rides on the lion and seems always ready to give boons to all.