Sonia Sumitra Thakar
The festival of Navaratri is celebrated across the world with devotion and enthusiasm. On the sixth day of this nine-day long celebration, Durga is worshipped in the form of Devi Katyayani, the warrior goddess and is believed to have taken this manifestation of shakti to crush the evil forces.
As Katyayani, Mother Durga takes on an extremely fierce avatar. Clad in a beautiful pink saree and riding upon of a magnificent lion, Devi Katyayani is shown having fours hands. In the first, she holds a lotus, in the second she wields a long sword and the third and fourth hands are in Abhaya and Varada mudras, to bless and protect devotees, respectively.
Legend of Devi Katyayani
According to the scriptures, there was a sage named Katyayan, a descendent of the renowned ascetic Maharishi Kat. He was childless and observed austere penance to Durga Devi to beget a child. Pleased with his worship, she agreed to be born in his family as Devi Bhagawati. At that time, the evil demon Mahishasura was wreaking havoc on heaven and earth, committing atrocities on both gods and human beings. At the call for help of the Devas, the trio of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva joined forces and emitted powerful flares that came together to give Devi Bhagawati the effulgent form of Devi Katyayani. Born to Sage Katyayan, she gets the name Katyayani.
Before she went in to battle with Mahishasura, Devi Katyayani was gifted with celestial weapons by all the gods. Shiva gave her a trident, Vishnu gave her a Sudarshan Chakra (discus), Brahma gave her a kamandalu and rosary, Varuna gave her a shankh (conch), Agni gave her a dart, Vayu gave her a bow, Surya gave her a quiver, Indra gave her a thunderbolt, Kuber gave her a mace, Kaal gave her a sword and shield and Vishwakarma gave her a battle axe.
On seeing Devi Katyayani’s mesmerising beauty, Mahishasura asked for her hand in marriage. The Devi smiled at his audacity and agreed to marry him if he could defeat her in battle. A fierce battle ensued between the two and finally, after several days, Devi Katyayani chopped off Mahishasura’s head with her sword. The goddess is hailed as Mahishasuramardini for defeating this wicked demon. On this day the victory of good over evil is celebrated with Durga Pooja.
Significance behind worshipping Devi Katyayani
The word Katyayani literally means the one who destroys ego and removes rigidity. She is a symbol of great power and strength and worshipping her is believed to help in overcoming obstacles, doing well in exams and getting ahead one’s professional life.
It is mentioned in the Bhagwata Purana that the gopis fasted and prayed fervently to Devi Katyayani for an entire month in order to get Lord Krishna as their husband. This goddess is worshipped by those who are unable to find a suitable partner, those who are facing problems in their marital life and for removing obstacles in the way of love.
On the sixth day of Navaratri, ideally honey is offered to Devi Katyayani as bhog with a prayer that the goddess infuses our lives sweetness and removes all the bitterness of troubles.
As a powerful form of Shakti, this manifestation of Durga is an inspiration to all women to harness the strength within and face all adversities with fortitude and fearlessness.
The presiding deity of day seven of Navaratri is Devi Kaalratri. You can read more about her story here.