Navratri Festival is celebrated by Hindus with great devotion for 10 days. Idol of Goddess Durga is worshipped during Navratri. People stay awake the whole night during the nine days of Navratri and play Dandiya and Garba. This festival is celebrated by all Hindus and has special significance in Gujarati community.
Here are the details of the 9 manifestations of Goddess Durga. Each goddess has a different form and a special significance. Nava Durga, if worshipped with religious fervor during Navaratri, it is believed, lift the divine spirit in us and fill us with renewed happiness.
“Shail” means mountains, “Putri” means daughter.Variously known as Sati Bhavani, Parvati or Hemavati, the daughter of the King of the Mountains Himavan, is called ‘Shailputri“. The first among nine Durgas and her worship takes place on the first day of Navaratri – the nine divine nights. The embodiment of the power of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, she rides a bull and carries a trident and a lotus in her two hands.
She is worshipped on the second day of Navaratri and is the second form of Mother Goddess. Bharmacharini means one who practices devout austerity. She enlightens us in the magnificent embodiment of Durga with great powers and divine grace.
Brahma that is who observes penance (tapa) and good conduct. Here “Brahma” means “Tapa”. The idol of this Goddess is very gorgeous. On left hand shehold a “Kumbha” or water pot, and the right hand holds a rosary. She personifies love and loyalty.
Bhramcharini is the store house of knowledge and wisdom. Rudraksha beads are her most adored ornaments. She is blissful and endows happiness, peace, prosperity and grace upon all devotees who worship her. Filled with bliss and happiness, she is the way to emancipation – Moksha.
The third facet of Goddess Durga is ‘Chandraghanta‘, who is worshipped on the third day of Navaratri, for peace, tranquility and prosperity in life. She has a ‘chandra’ or half moon in her forehead in the shape of a ‘ghanta’ or bell. That is why she is called ‘Chandraghanta‘.
She is Golden in color, possesses ten hands and 3 eyes. Eight of her hands display weapons while the remaining two are respectively in the mudras of gestures of boon giving and stopping harm. She is charming, has a golden bright complexion and rides a lion. She is the apostle of bravery and possesses great strength to fight in the battle against demons.
Kushmanda is the fourth form of the mother goddess and is worshipped on the fourth day of Navaratri. Shepossessed of eight arms, holding a weapons and a mala ( rosary), her mount is the tiger and She emanates a solar aura.The meaning of the name ‘Ku-shm-anda’ is as follows: ‘Ku‘ = a little; ‘ushma‘ = ‘warmth’; ‘anda‘ = ‘the cosmic egg’.
So she is considered the creator of the universe. The universe was no more than a void full of darkness, until her light spreads in all directions like rays from the sun.
The fifth aspect of the Mother Durga is known as ‘Skanda Mata‘ – the mother of Skanda or Lord Kartikeya, who was chosen by gods as their commander in chief in the war against the demons. She is worshipped on thefifth day of Navaratri.
She is accompanied by the Lord Skanda in his infant form. Rising a lion as Her chosen vehicle, She holds Her son skanda on her lap. She has three eyes and four hands; two hands holds lotuses while the other two hand display defending and granting mudras, respectively.
Its said, by the merch of Skandmata, even the fool becomes an ocean of knowledge.
The sixth form of Mother Durga is known as ‘Katyayani’, who is worshiped on the six day of Navaratri. Thelegend behind her name is that there was a great sage called Kata, who had a son named Katya. Kata was very famous and renowned in the lineage of saints.
He underwent long austerities and penance in order to receive the grace of the Mother Goddess. He wished to have a daughter in the form of a goddess. According to his wish and desire the Mother Goddess granted his request. Katyayani was born to Kata as an avatar of Durga.
This is the seventh form of Mother Durga and is worshipped on the seventh day of Navaratri. She has a dark complexion, disheveled hair and a fearlessness posture. She has three eyes that shine bright and terrible flames emanate from her breath. Black (or blue ) skin with bountiful hair and 4 hands, 2 clutching a cleaver and a torch, while the remaining 2 are in the mudras of “giving” and “protecting“. Her left upper hand holds a thorn-like weapon, made of iron and there is a dragger in the lower left hand. Her vehicle is a faithful donkey. She is the destroyer of darkness and ignorance.
She is worshipped on the eighth day of Navaratri. Her power is unfailing and instantly fruitful. As a result of her worship, all sins of past, present and future get washed away and devotees get purified in all aspects of life.MahaGauri is intelligent, peaceful and calm.
Due to her long austerities in the deep forests of the Himalayas, she developed a dark complexion. When Lord Shiva cleaned her with the water of the Ganges, her body regained its beauty and she came to be known as MahaGauri, which mean extremely white.
Her left upper hand holds a thorn-like weapon, made of iron and there is a dragger in the lower left hand. She is as white as a conch, moon and Jasmine. She is of eight years old. With four arms and the fairest complexion of all theDurga Shaktis, Mahagauri radiates peace and compassion. She is often dressed in a white or green sari. She holds a drum and a trident and is often depicted riding a bull.
Siddhidatri is the ninth form of Goddess. She is worshipped on the ninth day of Navaratri. There are eight Siddhis , they are- Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva and Vashitva.Siddhidatri has supernatural healing powers. She has four arms and she is always in a blissful happy enchanting pose. She rides on the lion as her vehicle. She blesses all Gods, saints, yogis, tantrics and all devotees as a manifestation of the Mother Goddess. It is said in “Devipuran” that the Supreme God Shiv got all these Siddhies by worshipping Maha Shakti. With her gratitude the half body of Shiv has became of Goddess and therefore his name “Ardhanarishvar” has became famous. Usually shown ensconced a lotus with four arms, She is the grantor of 26 different wishes to Her Bhaktas.
Festival of Navratri is full of lights, joy and festivity. Hindus celebrate this with devotion and enthusiasm throughout India. The celebration is carried on for ten days and the last four days are very important. Navratri means nine nights and so the tenth day Goddess Durga, who is worshipped throughout the nine days, is immersed in holy water after pooja. Each and everyday has its importance and meaning. People worship Goddess in three forms and try to enhance their physical, mental and spiritual practice in these nine days.
Navratri festival is celebrated twice a year, though the one that is celebrated in September or October is well-known and celebrated with extreme passion and fervour. Some Hindus believe that every night one form of Goddess is worshipped while some believe that three forms of Goddess are worshipped and they are the trinity of God. The celebration varies from one state to another although the dedication and devotion remains the same all over India.
Navratri Celebration and Fasting
- Some people eat only fruits and drink milk during the entire nine days and nights.
- Some eat meal one time a day and that meal should be satvik, which means vegetarian meal which is prepared without the use of onion and garlic.
- Fasting is not compulsory and even after few years if the devotee feels that he or she is not capable of continuing fast during Navratri, he or she can discontinue also.
- It is good to keep mind, body and thoughts pure during the time of Navratri.
- If possible try to light a Jyot in front of Goddess Durga’s statue or at least a picture throughout the nine days and nights.
- Start the prayers with praying for Lord Ganesha and then perform aarti in front of Goddess Durga.
- Men do not shave or cut their hair during this period.
- People do not wear black clothes during this period and avoid keeping leather goods with them.
- People worship young girls and feed them with sweets and different types of traditional and delicious food items. They consider them as form of Goddess Durga.
- Since it is believed that Goddess is fond of red flowers and red colour, women and young girls prefer wearing clothes in red and yellow colour.
- Fasting commences on the ninth night of Navratri.
People pray to Goddess Durga to destroy the evil during Navratri. They ask help and strength from the Goddess to fight against the evil and protect the Hindu dharma. In West Bengal, men and women celebrate Navratri festival as Durga Pooja and worship huge idols of Goddess Durga.
In Gujarat people perform traditional dance which is known as Garba almost throughout the night. They wear colourful dresses and mostly Indian traditional dresses are preferred.
Chaitra Navratri is celebrated after Holi and during Chaitra Shukla Paksha. This starts from the first day and ends on the ninth day which is also celebrated as Ram Navmi. The worship of Goddess on the eighth day is very important and auspicious and is significant in both Navratri festivals.
Dussehra or Navratri is also celebrated as Lord Rama’s victory over the Demon king Ravana. He was the ten headed king of Lanka and had kidnapped Rama’s wife, Sita. The main objective is, however, to celebrate the victory of good over the evil.