Navratri, in the Hindu calendar is one of the most awaited festivals. Not just Bengali culture, but Hindus in general celebrate the time with great fervour, dancing to the tunes of garba, bringing Maa Durga home, preparing prasaad, and praying in this powerful time of the year.
Different parts of India celebrate Navratri in different ways, but the ‘Nine Forms of Maa Durga’, are worshiped through these nine days. In popular belief, Maa Durga is an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, who took the avatar of Devi Durga to destroy Mahishasura.
Here are the 9 days of Navratri, with the importance they hold and which avatar of the goddess worshipped in this time.
Shaila means the mountains, and putri means daughter. Maa Shailaputri, is one of first nine avatars of Maa Durga. She is said to embody the powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. She rides the bull, Nandi with a trishul and a lotus.
The second day of Navratri is dedicated to Goddess Brahmacharini. The goddess appears with japamala and kamandal in her hands and walks bare feet. The meditative form of Maa Brahmacharini symbolises Goddess Parvati in deep meditation to please Lord Shiva.
According to a legend, Mahishasura waged war against the Devs, misusing the boon that made him an invincible force. Which is why the Devs infused all their powers into one Devi Durga and made her unconquerable. She was blessed with ten hands that carried different weapons, and rode a lion.
The third day of Navratri is of Goddess Chandraghanta. A crescent moon on the forehead, this fierce form of Maa Durga, with 10-armed goddess, is a symbol of bravery. Riding on a tiger, she puts an end to physical sufferings and mental tribulations.
The fourth day of Navratri, refered to as Chaturthi, celebrates Kushmanda. The name Kushmanda is derived from three words – ‘Ku’ (little), ‘Ushma’ (warmth or energy) and ‘Amnda’ (egg), which means the creator of the universe.
Panchmi, the fifth day, celebrates “Skanda” – Kartikeya and “Mata” – mother, Goddess Skandmata. A four-arm deity, who carries a lotus in two of her arms with a sacred Kamandalu and a bell in the other two. Also seen in her lap is Kartikay, is seated on a lotus.
The sixth avatars is of the ferocious forms of Shakti or Durga. She is also called Bhadrakali or Chandika, the warrior goddess. This one of the most violent forms of Maa Parvati. She has four arms and carries a sword. She is the daughter of Sage Katyayan and rides a lion.
Saptami or the seventh day of Navratri, signifies the form she took to banish darkness and kill demons. A four-armed deity who rides a donkey, carries a sword, a trident, and a noose, Maa Kaali has a third eye on her forehead that is believed to contain the entire universe.
Navratri also celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. Effigies of Ravan are burnt across the country, to commemorate the victory of good over evil.
A very calm figurine, the eight day of Navratri, Durga Asthami is dedicated to Goddess Mahagauri. Maa Mahagauri is a four-armed deity who rides a white elephant. She carries a Trishul and a damru in her hands.
The last day or the ninth day of Navratri is of Goddess Siddhidhatri. She is projected as a four-armed deity sitting on a lotus, holding a mace, a discus and a book and lotus in her hands. This form of Goddess Durga signifies a blissful state of mind. Siddhidatri Devi is worshipped by all Gods, yogis, and common devotees too.
These Nine days are considered very powerful, and are meant for cleansing and conquering evils. We hope you can channelize their power and come out as a happier, calmer version of yourself.