Navratri 2020: understanding the Nine Forms of Devi Durga

This year has been tough, but luckily, the time of rejuvenation is here. Navratri is here!

Although, the Hindu calendar observes 4 Navratris every year, two of them, Chaitra Navratri and Sharad Navratri, are the most important ones.

The Sharad Navratri 2020 will commence on 17th October. Navratri, the Sanskrit word for “nine nights”, marks a festival, where each of these 9 days celebrates a different form of Goddess Durga.

Goddess Durga, a maternal deity in the Hindu mythology, has often been revered as the feminine energy of strength and beauty. Although she takes many forms, the most prominent are the 9 forms we’ll be celebrating in the coming days.

To please each of these forms, you need to know the specific rituals and Mantras (affirmations).

Here they are:

Goddess Shailputri

  1. Maa Durga in this form was born to Hemavan, the king of the Himalayas, and thus, got the name Shailputri, which is Sanskrit for the daughter of the mountains. She is said to provide stability, power, and natural bounty to her followers.
  2. Popularly known as Parvati, she is a reincarnation of Maa Sati, who was reborn to unite with Lord Shiva.

What she carries: Trishul (trident) and kamal (lotus)

What she mounts: Nandi (bull)

Ruler of the planet: Chandra (moon)

How to worship: Offering ghee to Maa Shailputri relieves from illness and furthers good health.

Mantra: ॐ देवी शैलपुत्र्यै नमः॥[1]वंदे वाद्द्रिछतलाभाय चंद्रार्धकृतशेखराम | वृषारूढां शूलधरां शैलपुत्री यशस्विनीम्‌ ||

2. Goddess Brahmacharini

The second form of Goddess Durga is that of meditation, abstinence, and penance to please Lord Shiva. Maa Durga, in this form, depicts spirituality, wisdom, and purity.

Testament to her penance is the fact that she is the only goddess to not have a ride as she chooses to walk on her feet.

What she carries: Rudraksh mala and Kamandal

Ruler of the planet: Mangal (Mars)

How to worship: Offer sugar to the deity to improve your decision-making and resilience.

Mantra: दधाना करपद्माभ्यामक्षमालाकमण्डलू। देवी प्रसीदतु मयि ब्रह्मचारिण्यनुत्तमा॥2

3. Goddess Chandraghanta

Maa Durga, in this form, is the slayer of demons with 10 arms and a crescent-moon adorning her forehead.

Goddess Chandraghanta is known to bless her devotees with strength, power, and she furiously defends them against evil.

What she carries: Trishul, Lotus, Gada (mace), Kamandal (stoup), Japa mala (rosary), Sword, Arrow, Bow

What she mounts: Lion

Ruler of the planet: Shukra (Venus)

How to worship: Kheer (A desert comprising milk, dry fruits, and rice)

Mantra: पिण्डजप्रवरारुढा चण्डकोपास्त्रकैर्युता। प्रसादं तनुते मह्यं चन्द्रघण्टेति विश्रुता॥

4. Goddess Kushmanda

The fourth day of Navratri celebrates the deity who created the universe. At the beginning of the universe, when everything was drowned in darkness, Maa Kushmanda procured the cosmic egg with her smile, and thus, created everything we know.

She created the Trideva (3 supreme Gods – Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh) and the Tridevi (3 supreme Goddesses – Kali, Laxmi, Saraswati) both. She is said to control the solar system, while being able to reside in the core of the burning sun.

What she carries: Lotus, Chakra (discus), Kamandalu (Stoup), Akshamala (Rosary), Arrow, (mace), Dhanush (bow)

What she mounts: Lion

Ruler of the planet: Naturally, she governs the sun, the center of the solar system.

How to worship: Devotees offer Malpua to the deity to improve their intellect and wealth.

Mantra: सुरासम्पूर्णकलशं रुधिराप्लुतमेव च।

दधाना हस्तपद्माभ्यां कूष्माण्डा शुभदास्तु मे॥

5. Goddess Skandmata

The mother of Skand Kumar (more popularly known as Kartikeya) is worshipped on panchami, the fifth Navratri. This four-armed Goddess led to the death of a demon-named Tarkasur, who received a boon from Lord Brahma that no one but only the son of Shiva could kill him.

Maa Skandmata is said to bless her followers with knowledge and wisdom.

What she carries: 2 lotus and 2 bells with her son in her lap.

What she mounts: Lion, but her seat is a lotus

Ruler of the planet: Buddha (Mercury)

How to Worship: Offering bananas to the deity can help you improve your reasoning, logic, and dexterity.

Mantra: सिंहासनगता नित्यं पद्माश्रितकरद्वया। शुभदास्तु सदा देवी स्कन्दमाता यशस्विनी॥

6. Goddess Katyayani

Born to the sage Katyayayna, this form of Durga is furious, powerful, and the ultimate symbol of the victory of good over bad. This four-armed Goddess is the one who slayed the invincible demon Mahishasura, winning herself the name Mahishasurdhamini.

What she carries: Sword and lotus

What she mounts: Lion

Ruler of the planet: Brahaespath (Jupiter)

How to Worship: Offer honey and chant the following mantra

Mantra: चंद्रहासोज्जवलकरा शार्दूलवरवाहना। कात्यायनी शुभं दध्यादेवी दानवघातिनि।।

7. Goddess Kaalratri

In this aspect, Maa Durga is the ultimate symbol of feminine fury. Maa Kali has slayed uncountable demons and adorns a garland of their skulls around her neck.

Dark in complexion and invincible on battlefield, it is said her rage can only be calmed by Lord Shiva himself. Her tongue is red from the blood of the demons she has slayed and each of her 4 arms are equipped with weapons.

What she carries: Sword, trident, noose, and hooked vajra.

What she mounts: Donkey

Ruler of the planet: Shani (Saturn)

How to worship: Offer Jaggery and chant the following Mantra

Mantra: एकवेणी जपाकर्णपूरा नग्ना खरास्थिता

लंंबोष्टी कर्णिकाकर्णी तैलाभ्यक्तशरीरिणी।

वामपादोल्लसल्लोहलताकंठकभूषणा

वर्धनमूर्धध्वजा कृष्णा कालरात्रिर्भयंकरी।।

8. Goddess Mahagauri

Gauri is another name given to Goddess Parvati, and Mahaguari is the highest form of Parvati.

Having spent years meditating and slaying the wicked, Maa Durga’s natural beauty got buried deep underneath layers of mud and dirt. When she reached Shiva, he rubbed the dirt off her, thus, revealing the once-glowing and flawless Durga yet again.

What she carries: Trident, Damru (Tambourine)

What she mounts: A bull named Nandi or a white elephant

Ruler of the planet: Rahu (North Node)

How to Worship: Offer coconut and chant the following mantra

Mantra:

श्वेते वृषे समारुढा श्वेताम्बरधरा शुचिः। महागौरी शुभं दघान्महादेवप्रमोददा॥

9. Goddess Siddhidatri

The last day of Navratri marks the manifestation of Durga into Goddess Siddhidatri, who has all the siddhis (skill set and talents) in the world. It is said that upon Shiva and Parvati’s reunion, they became one, thus, beautifully merging into one body.

This is also how Lord Shiva gained his Ardhanareeshwar (half woman) form, where half the body was Parvati and the other half Shiva.

What she carries: Lotus, Mace, Chakra (Discus), and Shankha (Conch)

What she mounts: Lion or Lotus

Ruler of the planet: Ketu (South Node)

How to Worship: Offer sesame seeds and chant the following mantras

Mantra:

सिद्धगन्धर्वयक्षाघैरसुरैरमरैरपि। सेव्यमाना सदा भूयात् सिद्धिदा सिद्धिदायिनी॥

So, if we think about this, Navratri doesn’t just celebrate the various stages Maa Parvati went through before attaining Shiva, but it also celebrates the various faces of a woman. She is beauty and grace, but also a force to be worshipped.

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