Nine days, nine avatars – The nine days of Navratri

Shardiya Navratri, or the nine days of worship of Goddess Durga, starts today! Running until the 5th of October, Indians all over the world will join to celebrate each of the nine different forms of the Goddess Durga over nine days.  During Navratri, it is believed that whoever worships Goddess Durga with pure heart and devotion will find prosperity, happiness, peace and joy, as Goddess Durga abolishes all evils and bad vibes in their lives. As this is one of the most auspicious festivals among Hindus, according to the Hindu calendar, this festival is celebrated twice a year, with Chaitra Navratri taking place in Spring, while Shardiya Navratri is celebrated in Autumn to rejoice the victory of good over evil.

During Navratri, devotees fast for nine days to earn Goddess Durga’s blessings, and on the last day, they break their fast with a puja. There are two mythical stories related to this festival; the first tale depicts Goddess Durga slaying a demon named Mahishasura, who was known as an evil demon creating and spreading terror in the world. It is said that Goddess Durga was born to defeat Mahishasura, and after nine consecutive days of fierce battle, on the tenth day Goddess Durga achieves victory over Mahishasura by piercing his chest with her ‘Trident’, while he takes the form of a buffalo.

According to the second tale, Lord Ram worshipped Goddess Durga for nine days before his battle with Ravana to save his mother Sita from Lanka. Goddess Durga was pleased with Ram’s devotion, and on the tenth day of battle between Ram and Ravana, Ram finally defeated Ravana and conquered Lanka, which is celebrated as Dussehra on the 5th of October.

Let’s learn more about the nine forms of Navratri Devi, known as the nine avatars of Goddess Durga, and how devotees honour and celebrate their benevolence.

The nine avatars of the Goddess Durga

Goddess Shailputri

Navratri begins with worship of the Goddess Shaliputri, who is known as the daughter of mountains and often found in the colour of white. She is often depicted holding a Trishul in her one hand and a lotus flower in the other, while riding on a white bull named ‘Nandi’. This avatar of Goddess Durga represents a healthy life and on this day, devotees offer pure desi ghee, as well as food made with ghee to earn her blessings for a healthy long life.

Goddess Brahmacharini

On the second day of Navratri, devotees worship the Goddess Brahmacharini, who is symbolized as the mother of devotion and reparation. This form represents the Goddess Parvati while in deep meditation for years to gratify Lord Shiv. She is depicted wearing white clothes with a chanting rosary called ‘rudraksha mala’ in her right hand and a kamandalu in her left hand. By offering foods made of sugar, devotees pray for her blessings for loyalty, wisdom and knowledge.

Goddess Chandraghanta

On the third day, devotion is paid to the Goddess Chandraghanta, who is known as the avatar of the destroyer of demons. She is depicted with having ten hands, nine of them holding a trident, mace, bow, arrow, lotus, sword, bell and a waterpot, whereas the tenth hand remains in Abhay Mudra to bless her disciples. She was given the name Chandraghanta due to the curved moon on her forehead and is often depicted riding a tiger. She is often found in royal blue and her devotees believe that by offering kheer, she would take away their sorrows and pains.

Goddess Kushmanda

The fourth day of Navratri is devoted to Goddess Kushmanda, also known as Goddess of the Cosmic Egg. She is known to have eight hands and is often depicted riding a lion. Her devotees believe that she created the world with her divine and radiant smile. During this day, her devotees offer her favorite food, malpua, to worship the happy manifestations of Goddess Durga.

Goddess Skandamata

On the fifth day of Navratri, devotees pay worship to the Goddess Skandamata, also known as Panchami or Goddess of Motherhood and Children. She is depicted having four arms, two of them holding a lotus and the other two holding the sacred kamandalu, as well as a bell. She is also depicted having three eyes and a bright appearance. She is often shown riding a lion and carrying her son Lord Kartikeya or Skanda on her lap. Her favorite colour is green and her devotees pray for love by offering bananas, which is known as her favorite food.

Goddess Katyayani

The sixth day of Navratri represents Goddess Durga’s Shakti form, who is known as the Goddess Katyayani or the Goddess of Warriors. She is often depicted riding on a lion, with her four arms wielding a sword, shield, lotus and trident, respectively. Grey is her chosen colour and by offering honey and prasad, her devotees pray for her blessings on diminishing all evil around them.

Goddess Kalaratri

The seventh day is devoted to the fiercest form of Goddess Parvati, known as Kalaratri or Kali. As the legendary story goes, she sacrificed her fair skin complexion, becoming dark skinned to kill the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha. She is depicted riding on a donkey with three of her four arms wielding a sword, trident and noose. Her fourth arm can be found on Abhaya and Varada Mudra, to bless her devotees. Orange is known to be her favorite colour, and her devotees pay worship to her by offering jaggery as prasad to get her blessings.

Goddess Mahagauri

On the eighth day of Navratri, devotees dedicate their worship to the four-handed immortal Goddess Mahagauri, who is known to have the power to fulfill her devotees’ wishes. She is often depicted riding on a white elephant and holding a Trishul and damru in her hands. She is known to be fond of the colour of peacock green and her devotees offer coconut to her to pray for all their dreams to come true.

Goddess Siddhidhatri

The last day of Navratri is celebrated as the day the Goddess Durga was bestowed with her last avatar, the Goddess Siddhidhatri, as a symbol of perfection. She is known as the Goddess of Giving and Grants and is depicted having four arms, each one holding a mace, discus, book and a lotus respectively. Pink is known to be her favorite colour, and devotees pay worship to her by offering sesame seeds, while praying for safety and security from all bad vibes and evils around them.

Navratri is not only about taking all evils away from your life, but also, it’s the season to allow your body to detox all negative energies around you. Therefore, this Navratri fasting season, pay your gratitude to the Goddess Durga, while adding more positive energies to your life.

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