Navaratri is an important festival of the Hindus that is celebrated all over India. It is believed that the goddess assumes a different form on each of these nights. The tenth day after the nine nights is known as Dusshera.
The celebration marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura who could assume any shape at will. A fierce battle began between Durga and the demon on the seventh day or saptami and ended on the tenth day—Dussera or Vijayadashmi. The nine-day celebrations are a symbol of triumph of good over evil.
The first three nights focus on various forms of Durga or Parvathi while the next three nights emphasise on different aspects of Lakshmi. The last three nights signify the manifestations of Saraswathi.
Read on to know the various forms in which the divine shakti is represented during the navaratri period.
On this day, Goddess Parvathi is represented as the daughter of the Himalayas and is hence known as Shailaputri. The term shail denotes mountain in Sanskrit. She is believed to have a lotus in one hand and a trishul in the other.
Her devotees pour pure ghee on her feet as they pray to her to bestow them with a healthy life.
Mantra: Om Devi Shaliaputryai Namah
On this day, the goddess is bare footed and in meditative form. She has a holy kamandalu or water pot in one hand and a rudraksha in the other. It is said that she is trying to win over lord Shiva with her deep meditation.
On this day, her worshippers offer fruits and sugar as prasad and pray for their beloved ones to be blessed with long life. It is also said that the worshipper is blessed with nobility and virtue.
Mantra: Om Devi Brahmacharinyai Namah
The deity takes the form of an angry goddess with ten arms and three eyes. She has a weapon in each hand and adorns a crescent moon on her forehead. She rides a tiger and is ready to combat any evil. The booming sound from her bell is believed to have killed various demons in a fight between the gods and the demons.
The deity is offered kheer, sweets, and milk. Her worshippers believe that she grants them with sound physical health.
Mantra: Om Devi Chandraghantayai Namah
The name Kushmanda means ‘creator of the universe’ and originates from three words ku, ushma and amnda that mean little, energy or warmth, and egg, respectively. It is believed that the universe was totally dark and she lit it with her smile.
Devotees observe fast and offer malpua as bhog to the goddess. They pray to her to bless them with the ability to make wise decisions and improve intellect.
Mantra: Om Devi Kushmandayai Namah
On panchami, the goddess is manifested as the mother of Skanda or Kartikeya. She has four hands and has a lotus in each of her upper hands. She has bell in one of the lower hands and a kamandalu in the other hand. The deity also carries the infant Skanda in her lap and is seated on a lotus.
She is offered bananas as prasad on this day and her followers pray to be blessed with good health.
Mantra: Om Devi Skandamatayi Namah
The goddess is worshipped as Katyayani on day 6 or sashti. The deity is said to be in her most fearsome form. She gets her name from her father, sage Katyayan. She has four arms and a sword in one hand. The deity also has a noose, a trident and a mace in her other hands. Her followers believe that she can be pleased easily with true devotion.
She is offered honey as Prasad. Her followers pray for bitterness to be removed from their lives, for them to be guided towards inner peace and a sense of calmness.
Mantra: Om Devi Katyayanyai Namah
The goddess is said to have given up her fair complexion for a dark skin in order to kill several demons. She takes the form of fearsome Durga on this day with four arms and three eyes. She rides a donkey and has a noose, trident, and a sword in her hands.
Devotees offer her jaggery or sweets made of jaggery and pray to be relieved of their fears, obstacles, and pains. The goddess also protects them from evil spirits and powers.
Mantra: Om Devi Kaalaratryai Namah
The eighth day or ashtami is dedicated to goddess Mahagauri. She is four-armed with a damru and a trishul in her hands. It is said that the goddess went into deep meditation to win lord Shiva as her better half. The lord was impressed with her and showered her with the gangajal that helped her regain her beauty and earned her the name Mahagauri. She is shown to ride a white elephant or a bull.
Devotees offer coconut as prasad to this deity. Believers say that childless couples who offer coconuts to Brahmins on this day will be blessed with an offspring.
Mantra: Om Devi Mahagauryai Namah
This is the final or ninth day known as Navaratri. She signifies perfection and the ushering of wisdom and knowledge over ignorance. The goddess is manifested as a calm deity with four arms. She sits on a lotus and has a book, lotus, mace, and discus in her hands.
Worshippers observe a fast and offer her sesame seeds to be blessed with safety and security as well as to be protected from mishaps.
Mantra: Om Devi Siddhidatryai Namah
Maa Shakti’s followers firmly believe that the simplest and best way to be blessed by the goddess is to recite the Durga chalisa with full devotion on all the nine days.