Sonia Sumitra Thakar
One of the most popular and enthusiastically celebrated festivals of Hindus is the nine days of Navaratri leading up to Dussehra. Ma Durga is the presiding deity of these nine days and she is worshipped in various forms during this time. The third day of Navaratri is dedicated to Devi Chandraghanta.
Depicted as having a half moon, in the shape of a bell, adorning her forehead she gets her name – ‘chandra’ meaning moon and ‘ghanta’ meaning bell. She has a golden complexion, sits on a tigress and has ten arms in which she carries a trident, mace, sword, bow and arrows, japa mala (rosary), kamandalu (water pot), lotus, etc., and blesses devotees with her tenth hand.
The story of Devi Chandraghanta
Legend has it that after Devi Sati immolated herself in the yagna, Lord Shiva lost interest in worldly affairs and immersed himself in deep meditation. Sati was born again to the Mountain King Himavat and his wife Mena. Pleased by their devotion, Ma Adi Shakti blessed them by taking the form of their daughter Parvati. On the advice of Sage Narada, Parvati undertook severe penance to win the grace of Shiva and get him to agree to marry her in this birth, too. The marriage celebrations were planned with great excitement and enthusiasm. On the day of the wedding, the marriage procession that came to the house of King Himavan and Mena was not only strange but scary. So scary that, on seeing it, several relatives fainted in fright. Lord Shiva had ash smeared all over his body, a snake adorned his body, and with his matted unkempt hair, he was a terrifying sight. He was accompanied by a bizarre procession of ghouls and ghosts, ascetics, and sages. But, Parvati, who had undertaken thousands of years of harsh penance in order to win over Lord Shiva, was determined to marry him and save her family from embarrassment. She then took the huge and scary form of the Devi Chandraghanta—sitting on a tiger, with ten arms holding deadly weapons. Then she prayed to Lord Shiva to assume his original charming self and transform his procession into a more respectable and decent one. Shiva listened to her pure-hearted prayers and transformed into a beautiful prince resplendent with jewels and ornaments accompanied by a bevy of Devis and Devtas. Shiva and Parvati were married with great pomp and show and their union is celebrated as Mahashivatri every year by Hindus all over the world.
Significance of worshipping Devi Chandraghanta
Devi Chandraghanta is the married form of Parvati. With her ten arms holding weapons she is always ready to fight the evil forces and come to the aid of her devotees and remove any afflictions that might trouble them. Praying to her is believed to rid one of anxiety, stress, troubles and tribulations. While she is the fierce and fearless one, sitting atop a tiger, she is also full of compassion and motherly love towards those who worship her. Sweets made from milk are offered to Devi Chandraghanta on the third day of Navaratri as these are believed to be her favourite. A symbol of bravery and beauty, Maa Chandraghanta exudes positivity and serenity and blesses her devotees with the same in abundance.
Each of the nine days of Navaratri spotlights a different aspect of Mother Durga which together constitute the Navadurga. You can read about the avatar worshipped on day 4, Devi Kushmanda, here