Navratri festival is almost here, and Hindus all over India are getting ready to welcome the Goddess into their homes. The festival has been celebrated in India for centuries. It pays homage to the Divine Mother or Supreme Goddess, also called Shakti and Durga.
There are 4 Navratris in a year, but only 2 are well-known. Among the two, Sharad Navratri, which comes in autumn, is more popular. It is also called Mahanavaratri.
We can find many stories about the Goddess in the Scriptures. They extol her glory and talk about her exploits and victories over demonic forces, which symbolize ignorance and ego. The festival spans 9 nights, and on each night, devotees worship a form of the Goddess. The festival comes to an end on the 10th day, with Vijayadashami. On this day, the Goddess slew the buffalo demon, Mahishasura, after 9 days of fierce battle. Navratri 2022 dates are from September 26 to October 4.
Why is Navaratri Celebrated?
Navratri is about good triumphing over evil. The mythological story frames it as a battle between Goddess Durga and the buffalo demon, Mahishasura. Mahishasura had received a boon by which neither God nor a man could kill him. Emboldened by the boon, he attacked heaven and defeated the gods. Durga came into being from the merging of the energies of all the gods, who also gave her their divine weapons to kill the demon.
But the story is also a metaphor, wherein the demon represents the evil tendencies within us, like greed, pride, ego, arrogance, envy, jealousy, anger, lust, etc. Only by surrendering to the Goddess can we overcome them. Thus, it is the ideal time to reflect on our spiritual journey and progress. So many devotees observe Navratri fast for all 9 days of the festival.
During Navratri, people perform many rituals like Navratri Pooja, Saraswati Pooja, Ayudha Pooja, Vidyarambham (Kerala), Kanya Pooja, Golu arrangement (Tamil Nadu), Bathukamma (Andhra), etc., depending on the region. Some of these rituals are common to all regions.
Each of the 9 days of Navaratri honors a different form of Goddess Durga. Each of these forms has different attributes, too. So, the 9 Navratri days are significant in different ways. Let us see how.
Navratri Significance Day 1: Shailaputri
On Day 1, devotees worship Goddess Shailaputri, a form of Parvati, and the daughter of Raja Himavan, who is the king of the mountains. 'Shaila’means ‘extraordinary,’ and one who attains great heights. She holds a trident or Trishul and a lotus in her hands and rides a bull. Devotees worship Goddess Shailaputri to achieve higher consciousness. They also wear the color yellow, which signifies joy, celebration, and eradication of evil thoughts.
Navratri Significance Day 2: Brahmacharini
On Day 2, devotees worship Goddess Brahmacharini. In this form, Parvati performed severe penance. This Goddess is known for her knowledge and wisdom. She adorns herself with rudraksha, and holds a water pot in one hand and a rosary in the other. This day is perfect for o meditation. Green is the color for this day. It is the color of prosperity and nature. It is worn to gain blessings for spiritual knowledge, peace, and growth.
Navratri Significance Day 3: Chandraghanta
On the 3rd day of the Navratri festival, Goddess Chandraghanta is worshipped. This form of Durga sits astride a tiger, which represents 'shakti' or strength. Her hands display mudras or gestures – one of blessing and the other of protection from harm. 'Chandra' means the moon, which rules the mind. On the Goddess' forehead is a half-moon. She bestows knowledge and emotional balance. Wear grey on this day for the strength of transformation.
Navratri Significance Day 4: Kushmanda
On Day 4, devotees worship Goddess Kushmanda. Her name evokes the creation of the universe from a divine egg. She has 8 arms. One holds a rosary, and the others hold weapons. She sits on a tiger. She bestows the energy to grow. People wear orange on this day for warmth and exuberance. Another name for her is Ashtabhuja Devi.
Navratri Significance Day 5: Skandamata
On Day 5, Goddess Skandmata is invoked. Her name means 'mother of Skanda’. In this form, she has Skanda on her lap. Her mount is a lion. She symbolizes maternal love. By worshipping her, one can attain wisdom, wealth, power, and prosperity. She has 3 eyes and 4 hands. Two hold lotuses, while the other two display Abhaya mudra and Varada mudras. White, representing purity, meditation, and peace, is the color for this day. It helps achieve inner peace.
Navratri Significance Day 6: Katyayani
As Katyayani, she kills the demon Mahishasura. Her name is derived from Sage Katyayan, in whose ashram she dwelt when she did penance. She has the power to end our inner turmoil. Her mount is a lion, and she has 3 eyes and 4 arms. Two arms show Abhaya and Varada mudras, and the others hold lotuses. Red, representing courage, passion, and love, is worn on this day.
Navratri Significance Day 7: Kalaratri
This is a fierce form of the Goddess, and she represents night. By worshipping her, devotees gain comfort and courage as she destroys the fear of darkness. She destroys demons, evil spirits, ghosts, and negative energies. She is dark-skinned and has abundant hair and four hands. She rides a donkey. In two of her hands are a cleaver and a torch. The other two show the giving and protecting mudras. Devotees wear royal blue, for good health and prosperity, on this day. She is also called Shubhankari as she gives auspicious results.
Navratri Significance Day 8: Mahagauri
Goddess Mahagauri is a symbol of inner beauty and freedom as well as nature. She is the energy that propels life forward. By worshipping her, we can attract the energy to propel us forward and achieve liberation. Her face radiates serenity and compassion. In her arms, she holds a drum and a trident. Her mount is a bull. The color for this day is pink, which represents affection and feminine charm. People wear it for harmony and kindness.
Navratri Significance Day 9: Siddhidatri
Goddess Siddhidatri is worshipped on Day 9. She sits on a lotus and has the power to grant 26 different wishes. She can make the impossible, possible. It is said that she forms one side of Lord Shiva’s body. Purple is worn on this day for richness and stability.