“Navaratri” is a festival of nine days and on the tenth day, we celebrate Vijayadashami which signifies success of righteous over unrighteous. On the first nine days, the Devi Upasakas, will worship nine avatars(forms) of Durga.
The nine Avatars(forms) of Durga are Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandra Ghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamatha, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Maha Gowri and Siddidatri. Their importance are:
1. Shailaputri – This is the first form of the Durga Devi. She got this name as she was born as a daughter of Himavanta. She holds a Trishula on her right hand and a lotus on the left. She has a vrushabha(Bull) as her Vahana(vehicle). Her other names are Parvati, Haimavati etc. She got married to Lord Shiva. On the first day of Navaratri, we worship Shailaputri and the Yogis start their penance on this day by keeping their mind on the “Muladhara” chakra.
2. Brahmacharini – This is the second form of Durga. Here “Brahma” means penance. Her name signifies that she is a great Tapaswini. Her face is enlightened with a great light and awesome to see it. She holds a Japamala on the right hand and a Kamandalu on the left hand. She made a great penance to get Shiva only as her husband as instructed by Sage Narada and therefore she got this name. For the first 1000 years, she ate only fruits. Then, for hundreds of years she ate only leaves after which she fasted for many years. She offered Bilwa leaves to Shiva to please him. As she also left eating parnas(leaves), she is also called Aparna. On worshipping her, we get penance, renunciation, sacrifice etc. On worshipping Brahmacharini on the second day, Sadhakas concentrate their mind on “Swadhishtana” chakra.
3. Chandra Ghanta – Devi Durga’s third form is Chandra Ghanta and she got this name as she has a half-moon shaped ghanta on her head. Her face is always calm and gives peace to those who worship her. We worship her on the third day of Navaratri. Her body always glows with golden shining and has ten hands. She has a lion as her vehicle. On this day, the Sadhakas mind enters the “Manipura” chakra when doing penance. We get liberated from all the materialistic loss. She is the destroyer of demons and gives peace to all her devotees.
4. Kushmanda – The fourth form of Durga is Kushmanda. As she is believed as the creator of this Brahmanda(Universe), she got this name. As she created all the creatures, she is also called Adishakti. She stays inside the Sun and she is only capable of staying there.She has eight hands and has a lion as her vehicle. She holds kamandalu, Dhanush, Arrow, Lotus, Nectar filled Kalasha, Chakra and Gadha on her hands. The fourth day, the Sadhakas mind gets concentrated in the “Anahata” chakra. She is the most divine and gives health to all her devotees.
5. Skandamatha – This is the fifth form of Devi. When there was a time when Tarakasura had to be killed by a small child, she gave birth to Skanda(Kumaraswamy, Subrahmanya, Karthikeya etc). So, she got this name.She has four hands and holds lotus on the two hands and a boon giving hand. On the fifth day of Navaratri, the Sadhakas comes out from all outside work and concentrate on “Vishuddha” chakra. From this, we get liberated from all the sorrows and the door to Moksha opens.
6. Katyayani – The sixth form of Durga is Katyayani and she got this name as the Sage Katha did a penance and asked a boon that Devi should be born as his daughter. She is very strong and fulfills all the wants of the devotees. In the Bhagavatam, the Gopikas did Katyayani vrata to get Lord Sri Krishna as their husband. She also has lion as her vehicle. On the sixth day, the Sadhakas mind gets concentrated on “Agna” chakra. The devotees get all the purusharthas(dharma, artha, kama and moksha).
7. Kalaratri – Jaganmatha Durga’s seventh form is Kalaratri. She is of a dark complexion and her hairs are spread over her body. She has three eyes and looks very dangerous. She has a donkey as her vehicle and kills all the evils and protects the good from them. On meditating on her on the seventh day, the Sadhakas mind enters the “Sahasrara” chakra and he gets all the Siddhis. On meditating on this form, one attains the state of Samadhi which is being stated in Yogasutras.
8. Mahagowri – The eighth form of Devi which is of white complexion is Gowri. A bull act as her vehicle and she is a Varapradayini(boon giving). On meditating on the Gowri on the ninth day of Navaratri, one loses all his puva janma karmas and gets all the joy in this life. The devotees become divine and pure. The puranas states many stories on her.
9. Siddhidatri – The Jaganmata’s ninth form is Siddhidatri. As her name suggests, she gives all the forms of Siddhis to her devotees. The Ashtasiddhis(Eight Siddhis) according to Markandeya Purana are Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghuma, Prapti, Prakamya, Eshitva and Vashitva. According to Devi Purana, Lord Shiva got all the siddhis by her will. She is worshipped on the last day of Navaratri and a person who worships her sincerely gets all the siddhis and gets liberated.
Like this the mind should go to the level where nothing else is required other than merging with God or Moksha from the initial step of Chakra initiation.
What’s the Significance of Navratri?
During Navaratri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as “Durga,” which literally means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as “Devi” (goddess) or “Shakti” (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words, you can say that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there.
Why Worship the Mother Goddess?
We think this energy is only a form of the Divine Mother, who is the mother of all, and all of us are her children. “Why mother; why not father?”, you may ask. Let me just say that we believe that God’s glory, his cosmic energy, his greatness and supremacy can best be depicted as the motherhood aspect of God. Just as a child finds all these qualities in his or her mother, similarly, all of us look upon God as mother. In fact, Hinduism is the only religion in the world, which gives so much importance to the mother aspect of God because we believe that mother is the creative aspect of the absolute.
Why Do You Need the Power?
Thus, I suggest you join your parents in worshipping “Ma Durga” during the Navaratri. She will bestow on you wealth, auspiciousness, prosperity, knowledge, and other potent powers to cross every hurdle of life. Remember, everyone in this world worships power, i.e., Durga, because there is no one who does not love and long for power in some form or the other.
Why Nine Nights & Days?
Navaratri is divided into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the supreme goddess. On the first three days, the Mother is invoked as powerful force called Durga in order to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects. The next three days, the Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees the inexhaustible wealth. The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the mother as the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order have all-round success in life, we need the blessings of all three aspects of the divine mother; hence, the worship for nine nights.
Significance of Navratri
The First Three Days of Navratri
The first three days of Navratri are devoted to the worship of the Goddess Durga. This is the period, when her energy and power are worshipped. Each day is dedicated to a different appearance of Durga. Kumari, which signifies the girl child, is worshipped on the first day of the festival. Parvati, who is the embodiment of a young woman, is worshipped on the second day. The destructive aspects of Goddess Durga symbolize the commitment to acquire triumph over all the evil tendencies. Hence, on the third day of Navratri, Goddess Kali is worshipped, who represents the woman who has reached the stage of maturity.
Fourth to Sixth Days of Navratri
When a person acquires triumph over evil tendencies of ego, anger, lust and other animal instincts, he/she experiences a void. This void is filled with spiritual wealth. For the purpose, the person approaches Goddess Lakshmi, to acquire all the materialistic, spiritual wealth and prosperity. This is the reason why the fourth, fifth and sixth day of Navratri are dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi – the goddess of prosperity and peace.
Although the individual has acquired victory over evil tendencies and wealth, he is still deprived of true knowledge. Knowledge is required to live the life of a humane, even though he/she is prospered with power and wealth. Therefore, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped on the fifth day of Navratri. All the books and other literature materials are gathered in one place and a ‘diya’ (earthen lamp) is lit in front of the deity, to invoke the goddess and seek her blessings. Till the time the books are kept at the puja room, the students would not study.
Seventh and Eighth Day of Navratri
The seventh day is dedicated to worshipping Saraswati, the goddess of art and knowledge. Prayers are offered with an aim to seek spiritual knowledge. A ‘yagna’ is performed on the eight day. This comprises of a sacrifice honoring goddess Durga as well as bids her farewell. The sacrifice or offering is made out of clarified butter (ghee), rice pudding known as kheer and sesame seeds.
Ninth Day of Navratri
The ninth day is the final day of Navratri celebrations. It is also known as ‘Mahanavami’. On the day, Kanya puja is performed to worship nine young girls, who have not yet reached the stage of puberty. These nine girls symbolize one of the nine forms of goddess Durga. The feet of girls are washed to welcome the goddess and show respect to her. The girls are offered a set of new clothes as a gift from the devotees at the end of the puja.