Navratri – the festival of nine nights that celebrates the nine powerful avatars of Goddess Durga, is now on. While the festival involves praying and observing fast for nine days to please the Goddess, it is necessary to know the tales behind the fest too.
The tale of Navratri – What you need to know
- A demon named Mahishasur was blessed with a boon of immortality by Lord Shiva.
- No wound or a weapon would kill Mahishasur.
- Due to the boon, the demon became a terror, harassing people living on the Earth.
- To put an end to their sufferings, Goddess Durga took birth.
- Lord Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva bestowed her with a divine feminine form of strength and power.
- Goddess Durga fought the demon Mahishasur for nine days and on the tenth day, she pierced his chest with her ‘trishul’.
- The end of Mahishasur was celebrated with great fervour. That is why Dussehra, also called Vijayadashmi, marks the conclusion of the nine-day Navratri celebrations
Let us see what are the nine forms of Durga, aka Navadurga…
Shailaputri (Daughter of Mountain) is worshipped on the first day of Navaratri. Shailaputri was the daughter of the God of Mountains, Himalaya. She was also known as Parvati.
Worshipped on the second day of Navratri, Goddess Bhramacharini’s name is derived from “Brahma” which means penance and “Charini” which means an enthusiastic female follower.
On the third day of Navratri, Goddess Durga is worshipped as Goddess Chandraghanta. Her forehead is adorned with the crescent moon resembling the shape of a temple bell.
Referred to as thesmiling Goddess, her name is made up of three words. “Ku” means little, “Ushma” means energy, and “Anda” means egg. Combine the three words and you get the creator of a “little cosmic egg” or the Universe.
Skanda is another name for Lord Kartikeya (Parvati’s son and Lord Ganesha’s brother). Thus, Skandamata means the mother of Kartikeya.
According to legends, a sage named ‘Kat’ observed penance and prayed to be blessed with a child. Later, sage ‘Katyayan’ took birth as his descendant. Goddess Katyayani is worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri.
Kaal refers to time as well as the end whereas ratri refers to darkness/ignorance. Thus, Goddess Kaalratri, also known as Kali, is the one who ends ignorance.
With four arms and the fairest complexion radiating peace, Goddess Mahagauri is dressed in green/white sari. She is seen holding a trident and drum, and is riding a bull.
The name Goddess Siddhidatri means “giver of meditative ability”. Thus she is the Goddess of success, who blesses her devotees with excellence (siddhis).
These nine appearances of Goddess Durga are worshipped with great devotion. In reality, all these divine spirits are within us to help us get liberated, overcome hardships and find divinity.