The Nine Days of Navratri
The goddesses worshipped during Navratri are all forms of Goddess Durga. Navaratri in 2018 will start on Tuesday, the 9th of October (9/10/2018) and will continue for 9 days until Wednesday, the 17th of October. The Navratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashwin. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the beginning of October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. Each day has its own special significance and goddess Durga is worshipped under nine different names as Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri.
During these nine days, different aspects of the supreme goddess are celebrated. The first three days are devoted to the goddess Durga, who destroys evil. For the next three days, the goddess Lakshmi, who grants wealth and prosperity is worshipped and the goddess Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom is revered during the last three days.
Day 1 – 3: The first three days are devoted exclusively to the worship of the goddess Durga. During this period, her energy and power are worshipped. Different manifestation of Durga is worshipped each day. The first day’s Pooja (worship) is dedicated to Shailputri who is the youngest form of Durga and is said to be the daughter of the Himalayas. The first day sees the worship of the girl child and her power and contribution towards human society. On the second day, the prayers have now converted towards worshiping Parvaty and concentrate on a young woman, translating the change from a young girl to a young woman. On the third day, the worship is specifically done for the goddess Kali who is represented as a mature woman. She is also considered to be very protective and prepared to defend her children aggressively from any form of harm thus bring out her motherly instincts.
Day 4 - 6. During these three days the worship turns towards goddess Laxmi who signifies wealth and power. During these days the worship is channelled towards Laxmi Devi who is one of the 9 forms of Durga Mata worshiped during the Navratri.
Day 7. On day seven the worship shifts to goddess Swaraswati who is linked to art and knowledge and prayers are offered to ask for spiritual guidance away from our worldly knowledge. The main reason is to remind people that the knowledge they acquire is thanks to Saraswati and is only beneficial in the world so acquiring knowledge from goddess Saraswati will help us move on to the next world thus making her knowledge very important.
Day 8. The eighth day worship is as Durgashtami and is dedicated towards the farewell of goddess Durga. A 'Yagna' is performed offering Ghee, rice pudding and sesame seeds on the Eighth day.
Day 9. The ninth and final day of the Navratri is celebrated as Mahanavami and sees the worship of all forms of Durga whereby the Kanya Pooja is held. Nine girls are invited to the prayers and worshiped; this symbolizes the nine stages through which the goddess Durga is venerated. This is the Last day whereby the 9 girls are worshiped and fed before the completion if this religious festival. The nine girls chosen on this day are selected indiscriminately without observing cast of creed. This is due to the ability for Duga Mata to appear in any form thus making every girl a potential goddess on this day.
The Navtratri is considered to be the most significant of all festivals and every Hindu house must perform this festival to receive spiritual cleansing and protection from Goddess Durga.
During these auspicious nine nights the Jaganmaata is worshipped, who killed the cruel demons Madhu-Kaitabha, Shumbha-Nishumbha, Mahishasura and so on. The following verse is quoted from Devi Mahatmyam occuring in the Markandeya Puranam –
शरत्काले महापूजा क्रियते या च वार्षिकी ।
तस्यां ममैतान्महात्म्यं श्रुत्वा भक्ति समन्वितः ॥
This explains that by special worship of Jaganmaata and by chanting Devi Mahatmya during Sharatkaala (Sharadritu), Devi becomes happy and gives all sorts of prosperity to her devotees.
Each of the nine days also has a designated colour which the devotees prefer to wear on the day. These colours are green, blue, red, orange, yellow, indigo, violet, pink and tints and hues of golden.
The Eighth Day of Navarathri
Goddess Maa Mahagauri
The 8th day of Navaratri is dedicated to Maa Mahagauri, the 8th Avtar of Maa Durga. The legend has it that Maa Mahagauri liberated the world from evil forces. She has three eyes and four hands. Her lower right hand holds a trishul and the upper right hand is in the mudra of allaying fear. Whereas her lower left hand is in a pose of granting boons to Her devotees and she is holding a damaru in Her upper left hand.
She has extremely fair complexion and therefore Maa is compared with the conch, the moon and the white flower of Kunda. Radiant and compassionate, Maa Maugauri is usually depicted in a white or green saari and riding a bull. She is also known as Shwetambardhara. Maa Mahagauri purifies the souls of Her devotees and removes all their sins. She has a calming effect on the lives of Her devotees and she also helps them improve their knowledge.
Worship Maa Mahagauri to be free from the clutches of the material world and to remove sorrows from your life, for She will lead you to the path of virtue and inner power.
Chant this mantra to worship Maa Mahagauri...
श्वेते वृषे समारूढा श्वेताम्बरधरा शुचिः |
महागौरी शुभं दद्यान्त्र महादेव प्रमोददा ||
Śvētē vr̥ṣē samārūḍhā śvētāmbaradharā śuciḥ |
mahāgaurī śubhaṁ dadyāntra mahādēva pramōdadā ||