Navratri: The Nine Nights Of Goddess Durga

Navratri: The Nine Nights Of Goddess Durga

Navratri: The Nine Nights Of Goddess Durga

Whenever we go through times of great change, we often find that either the past is holding onto us or we are holding onto the past. This is evident through the concept of Karma, by which we are tied, with energetic strings, to people, places and things of which we have interacted with throughout our everyday life. These can be helpful or hindering. Either way, we can release these connections during the time of Navratri.

During the year of 2021, this amazing festival runs from October 7th through to October 15th.

Navratri is a Hindu festival that is celebrated in various ways throughout the world by many people though it has its origins deep within the country of India. This festival is dedicated to the Indian Goddess, Durga, and her triumphant battle over the demon king, Mahishasura. In this time, Goddess Durga took nine different forms in order to overcome the challenges the demon king presented her with. Hence Navratri’s meaning – ‘Nine Nights’.

Navratri commences on the first day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month known as ‘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, the festival may be held for a day more or a day less. During this time, we can release the past and move forth into an abundant and prosperous future with the blessings of Goddess Durga and her nine forms. These nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped during Navratri and are collectively known as the ‘Navadurgas’. 

The Navadurgas

Shailaputri: This being is the first amongst the nine forms of Goddess Durga to be worshipped during Navratri and is known as the embodiment of Mother Nature. She is worshipped on the first day, known as ‘Pratipada’. Shailaputri is seen riding upon a bull, known as Nandi, with a crescent moon upon her head and a trident in her right hand and lotus within her left hand. As the epitome of Mother Nature, Shailaputri’s energy focuses upon the Base Chakra, the energy centre at the base of the spine, and amplifies the purifying qualities of releasing past Karma. As such, red ribbon and cloth is often draped over statues of Shailaputri in temples and shrines during Navratri.

Brahmacharini: This being is the second form of Goddess Durga to be worshipped during Navratri and is known to be the embodiment of the act of learning the sacred religious knowledge. She is worshipped on the second day, known as ‘Dwitiya’. Brahmacharini is often seen garbed in white robes with a set of Japa Mala Beads in her right hand and a water carrying utensil in her left. As the epitome of the act of learning sacred religious knowledge, Brahmacharini’s energy focuses upon releasing and washing away the knowledge that no longer serves us along our divine soul mission. As such, royal blue ribbon and cloth is often draped over statues of Brahmacharini in temples and shrines during Navratri. 

Chandraghanta: This being is the third form of Goddess Durga to be worshipped during Navratri and is known to be the embodiment of healing. She is worshipped on the third day, known as ‘Tritiya’. Chandraghanta is often seen riding a lioness with many weapons and items in her multiple arms that include: A Sword, a Gada, a Trident, a Bell, a Lotus, a Gada, a Kamandal (Water Pot), a Sword, a Bow and an Arrow. As the epitome of healing, Chandraghanta’s energy focuses upon releasing the sins, distresses, physical sufferings, mental tribulations and ghostly hurdles that hinder humanity. As such, yellow ribbon and cloth is often draped over statues of Chandraghanta in temples and shrines during the times of Navratri. 

Kushmanda: This being is the fourth form of Goddess Durga to be worshipped during Navratri and is known to be the Goddess of the Cosmic Egg. She is worshipped on the fourth day, known as ‘Chaturthi’. Kushmanda is often seen with eight hands holding a discus, a sword, a hook, a mace, a bow, an arrow and two jars of honey and blood, riding upon a fierce lion. As the Goddess of the Cosmic Egg, Kushmanda’s energy focuses upon that of warmth, kindness, healing and prosperity. As such, green ribbon and cloth is often draped over statues of Kushmanda in temples and shrines during the times of Navratri.

Skandamata: This being is the fifth form of Goddess Durga to be worshipped during Navratri and is known to be the Mother of the God of War. She is worshipped on the fifth day, known as ‘Panchami’. Skandamata is often seen with four arms of which two hold the lotus flowers. One of her hands is always in the boon-giving gesture and with the other she holds her son, Skanda, in her lap as she rides a lioness. As the Mother of the God of War, Skandamata’s energy focuses upon gifting wisdom, prosperity and strength to those of whom she sees as her children, no matter their status in life. As such, grey ribbon and cloth is often draped over statues of Skandamata in temples and shrines during the times of Navratri.

Katyayini: This being is the sixth form of Goddess Durga to be worshipped during Navratri and is known to be the embodiment of vengeful victory. She is worshipped on the sixth day, known as ‘Shashthi’. Katyayini is often seen as a four-armed woman riding a lion with a long sword in her lower left hand, a lotus in her upper right hand and her other hands are held in boon-giving gestures. As the epitome of vengeful victory, Katyayini’s energy focuses upon relieving one of karma through acts of which reflect the karma back from whence it came so it may not attach itself again. As such, orange ribbon and cloth is often draped over statues of Katyayini in temples and shrines during the times of Navratri.

Kaalratri: This being is the seventh form of Goddess Durga to be worshipped during Navratri and is known to be the embodiment of the Destructive Mother. She is worshipped on the seventh day, known as ‘Saptami’. Kaalratri is often seen riding a donkey with a dagger in one of her four arms and a thorn like weapon in another. As the epitome of the Destructive Mother, Kaalratri’s energy focuses upon the destruction of demonic entities, dark spirits and negative energies of whom flee upon learning of her arrival. She bestows power, wealth and wisdom upon those of whom do not fear her for those who do not fear her are good at heart. As such, white ribbon and cloth is often draped over statues of Kaalratri in temples and shrines during the times of Navratri.

Mahagauri: This being is the eighth form of Goddess Durga to be worshipped during Navratri and is known to be the embodiment the alleviation of all sufferings. She is worshipped on the eighth day, known as ‘Ashtami’. Mahagauri is often seen draped in white robes, riding upon a white bull with four arms. Her upper-right arm is in the pose of allaying fear and lower-right hand holds a trident in it. She holds a tambourine in her upper-left hand and the lower-left is in the form of a blessing. As the epitome of the alleviation of all sufferings, Mahagauri’s energy focuses upon releasing the Karma of which leads to constant suffering from lifetime to lifetime through acts of Divine Love. As such, pink ribbon and cloth is often draped over statues of Mahagauri in temples and shrines during the times of Navratri.

Siddhidatri: This being is the ninth, and last, form of Goddess Durga to be worshipped during the time of Navratri and is known to be the Goddess of Supernatural Powers. She is worshipped on the last day of Navratri, known as ‘Navami’. Siddhidatri is often seen seated on a lotus, holding a lotus, a mace, a Sudarshana Chakra and a conch in her four hands. As the Goddess of Supernatural Powers, Siddhidatri’s energy focuses upon completing the mundane soul missions in order to help many achieve the state of the Divine-Realised Self that many aspire to throughout life. As such, sky-blue ribbon and cloth is often draped over statues of Siddhidatri in temples and shrines during the times of Navratri.

Rituals for Navratri

There are many rituals utilised for observing the festival of Navratri, all of which are quite personal for the members of the household and can vary from home to home, province to province and even country to country.

In some areas of India, the first seven days are for fasting whilst on the eighth day, devotees break their fasts by calling young girls home where these girls are treated as the goddess herself. They are called ‘Kanjak Devis’. People ceremonially wash their feet, worship them and then offer food to the ‘girl-goddesses’ giving them the traditional puri (unleavened bread), halwa (sweets) and chana masala to eat along with bangles and the red scarves to wear with a token amount of money as ‘shagun’, meaning omen. The ninth day is then referred to as Navami, which means the ninth day of this holy festival has come.

A commonly practiced ritual is that of sowing pulses, cereals and other seeds on the first day of this festival in a pot which is watered for nine days. This pot is worshipped as a vessel of Divinity throughout the nine days, of which, at the end the seeds sprout showing that the devotion has appeased Goddess Durga and the Navadurgas at this time. 

Other households sometimes choose to abstain from cutting hair and nails as well as choosing to lay upon the floor rather than the bed. The significance of this is that they are allowing Goddess Durga and the Navadurgas to cut the Karmic ties rather than doing it themselves by shaving or cutting their hair and nails. In laying upon the floor, they are in essence surrendering themselves to Goddess Durga in the form of Shailaputri so that they are connected to the Earth as much as possible.

Some households choose to fast and avoid meats, alcoholic beverages, wheat, onions and grains, as this is a time of change and grains are believed to absorb negative energies. By avoiding grains, it is believed that the purification of the body during Navratri can be a greater result all round.

Whilst these rituals often take place in India, particularly amongst the temples, many in the other countries of the world can perform rituals to honour Goddess Durga and the Navadurgas during this auspicious time. These include:

  • Abstaining from cutting hair and nails.
  • Lighting a coloured candle in front of an image or Statue of Goddess Durga or any of the Navadurgas that correlates to each of the days. A white candle with the corresponding coloured cloth or ribbon is a way to achieve this result if coloured candles are not at hand.
  • Lighting Sandalwood Incense in honour of Goddess Durga near an image or Statue of Goddess Durga or any of the Navadurgas.
  • Fasting from grains, alcohol, wheat, onions and meats.

As these are suggestions, you can honour Goddess Durga and the Navadurgas during the time of Navratri in any way that you choose to. For even the simple act of lighting a candle and calling upon these wondrous beings can bring their energy into your life and help you in many wondrous and beautiful ways as you release the past Karma and go forth into an abundant future. 

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