Navratri 2020: What are the 9 avatars of Durga? Know Nine Forms Of Durga

In these nine nights, the nine manifestations of Maa Durga- Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidhatri are worshipped.

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Navratri is a major Hindu festival, celebrated with great pomp and show across the world. This nine nights and ten-day festival is derived from two sanskrit words: Nav- nine and ratri- nights. The festival takes place for a period of 9 days during the month of Ashwin and ends with Vijayadashmi or Dussehra. The nine forms of durga are worshipped during the festival.

There are two legends associated with this festival. The first one being the end of denim Mahishasur by Durga Maa and Ram killing Ravana, who kidnapped Devi Sita. These are the most auspicious days of the lunar calendar as per Hinduism. Talking about Navdurga, these are the nine manifestations of Durga maa which are worshipped in these 9 holy nights.  

Shailputri Maa – Shailputri is the first form of  Navdurga, also known as Parvati, Bhavani or Hemavati. She was born to the king of mountains, Lord Himalaya, and thus got this name because Shail means Mountain and putri means daughter.

She is the reincarnation of devi Sati, who self-immolated herself at her father Daksh’s place, where he organised a yagna and was constantly humiliating her husband, Lord Shiva.

She is the embodiment of the power of Vishnu, Brahma and Mahadeva. Her deity is portrayed as holding a trident in her right hand & lotus flower in her left hand and has a half-moon on her forehead. The Goddess is seen to be seated on Nandi (bull).

This incarnation of Shakti is worshipped on the first day of the festival, Navratri. The provider of all fortunes, the moon, is said to be governed by her, so by worshipping Goddess Shailputri, we can master any bad effect of the moon. Also, she is known to be the absolute form of Mother nature.

It is said that the goddess’ favourite colour is orange, thus orange is also worn on the first day of Navratri. Her abode is in the Muladhara Chakra, and she adores the flower hibiscus. In her respect, shudh ghee is offered on the foot of the goddess by her devotees as it is believed, that by doing so, a life free of illness and diseases is granted to the devotees.

The mantra used to revere Shailputri maa is ‘’Om Devi Shailaputryai Namah”. There are two temples dedicated to the goddess. The first one being located in A-40/11, Marhia Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, and the other at Hedavde Village, on Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway, Vasai Virar region, Maharashtra, India. 

Brahmacharini Devi – The festival that honours the feminine divine power, Navratri, is a major Hindu festival that is celebrated over a period of nine nights and ten days across the globe. The legends associated with this festival are very auspicious.

The first one being the end of denim Mahishasur by Durga Maa and Ram killing Ravana, who kidnapped devi sita, and thus signifies the victory of good over evil. These nine nights end with Dussehra, also called Vijayadashmi. In these nine nights, the nine manifestations of Maa Durga-  Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidhatri are worshipped.

The second avatar of the Navdurga, Brahmacharini Devi, is the metaphor of utmost devotion and patience. The meaning of the word “Brahmacharini” is a devoted female who possesses sacred knowledge only. The goddess is worshipped on the second day of the joyous festival Navratri. According to the narratives, Devi Sati, reborn as Parvati, wanted to marry mahadeva. But since she was a princess, when her parents got to know about this, they discouraged her, but she did not give up and did tapasya for approx 5000 years to please mahadeva.

As per the legends, a demon named Tarkasur had a boon that he could only be killed by the son of Shiva, and because of this, he had created fear and chaos over the humans. So, the gods also approached kamadeva- the god of desire and attraction to make Mahadeva fall for parvati. But in vain, mahadeva burned kamdev. Then also, Brahmacharini Devi did not lose hope and patience and continued her tapasya and started living the life of a yogin.

Shiva also tried to discourage her personally, but seeing her dedication, he finally accepted her. Such is the story of Brahmacharini devi, who holds a japa mala (rosary) in her right hand and Kamandal, a water utensil in her left hand and carries white clothes.

Love, loyalty, wisdom, and knowledge is signified through this goddess and she governs the planet Mars and is said that Chrysanthemum flower is her favourite. The goddess is also adored by the names Tapascharini, Aparna and Uma. “Om Devi Brahmacharinyai Namah” is chanted to worship her and also, for the longevity of the family members, the goddess is offered sugar by the devotees. The goddess is always shown to be barefooted. 

Chandraghanta Devi – She is the third out of nine forms of durga. Chandraghanta is believed to reward people with her elegance, courage and valour.

The goddess is worshipped on the third day of Navratri, and is the wife to Lord Shiva. She is revered as the goddess of internal and spiritual power, and people who have severe obstacles and unnecessary enemies should worship Chandraghanta devi and seek her blessings.

The goddess rides on a tiger or a lion, which represents bravery, has a third eye in the middle of her forehead and wears a half-moon on her forehead, which gives her this significant name.

The narrative that goes behind this is after the reunion of shiva and parvati, mahadev came to marry devi parvati bringing wedding a procession of gods, mortals, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, sages, ascetics, Aghoris which scared queen menavati- mother of devi parvati, and she faints. Seeing this, devi parvati took the form of Chandraghanta maa to save her parents and other family members.

Devi Chandraghanta is always ready to destroy the evil and the wicked, but also symbolises the motherly love and affection to her devotees, showering peace and prosperity. Her bell produced a horrible sound that killed thousands of wicked demons during a battle.

The planet venus is governed by the goddess and she happens to adore the red colour and lotus flower. She has ten hands where one of her hands remains in a blessing posture, while two hands hold a Trishula (trident), Gada (mace), Ghanta (bell) and kamandal  (waterpot), bow-arrow, khadak (sword), Kamala(lotus flower). She also carries a lotus flower,Japa Mala arrow, and Dhanush in her four right hands and keeps the fifth right hand in Abhaya Mudra. It is said that the goddess is offered kheer by the devotees, which tends to relieve all pains. 

Kushmanda Devi: The fourth avatar of the Navdurga out of nine forms of durga is Kushmanda Devi. She is believed to end the darkness and create the world with her divine smile. The goddess got this name due to her interrelation with Kushmand (Bali of white pumpkin) and Brahmand (world).

She is believed to release energy to the universe by residing in the nucleus of the sun and possess healing powers. As per the narratives, worshipping the goddess improves health and she blesses us with wealth and strength. The goddess is illustrated with eight to ten hands holding a trident, discus, mace, sword, bow, arrow, hook, and two jars of honey (Elixir) and blood.

Her one hand is always on abhayamudra from which she blesses all her devotees. The tale of Maa Kushmanda goes back to when there was darkness all over and no indication of the world anywhere. But then, with a ray of divine light, goddess Kushmanda appeared and her silent smile gave birth to the universe. She was the one who created the Cosmic egg. The planets, earth, stars and the galaxies were all brought into being. But, for life to prevail, the sphere needed the sun God, then Maa Kushmanda herself centred in between the sun to provide light and energy to all.

The doors to fame, respect and glory will open by worshipping Maa Kushmanda, she is peaceful, gentle and serene for her devotees, but also destroys the evil and the wicked. Her idolized form depicts both bravery and beauty, and is very essential to keep you away from all the negative energy.  Her governing body is the sun and her favourite colour is royal blue, which is why it is carried on the fourth day of Navratri (The day she is worshipped). “Om Devi Kushmandayai Namah” is used to worship her and to seek her blessings to improve intellect and decision-making ability, malpua is offered to her.

Skand Mata Devi: The 5th out of nine forms of Durga – Skandamata, holds the fifth day of Navratri. Skanda is the other name of Kartikeya, the war god, and Durga maa got this name after giving birth to Kartikeya. In her idolized form, she is shown to carry Lord Skanda on her lap, one hand is in a blessing position, a lotus in one hand, and rides a lion.

She is white in complexion and is seated on the lotus. Often known as “The Goddess of Fire  ”, salvation, prosperity, power and treasures are awarded by the goddess to her devotees and even if the most illiterate person worships her with sincere dedication, she grants oceans of wisdom to him also. Just, while venerating her, the devotee should be in full control of their senses and be free from worldly bondage.

Each time a person takes blessings of Skandmata, s/he is blessed twice, because the person gets the blessings of lord kartikeya also, who is in the lap of Maa. The reverence of Skandamata purifies the heart of a devotee. Worshipping her is ultimately favourable to salvation. She governs the planet mercury, and adores the yellow colour, which is why it is fondly worn on the fifth day of navratri. She is also known by the name of Padmasana and her favourite flower is Yellow rose. One of the Ma durga favourite Prasad is Banana. It is offered to her and “Om Devi Skandamatayai Namah” is chanted while worshipping her. 

Katyayani Devi – The sixth day of Navratri is dedicated to the form of shakti, Katyayani Devi, who is also revered as a warrior goddess. The tyrannical demon Mahishasura, had created havoc on the planet, and Maa Parvati had to take this form to end him. This is said to be one of the most violent forms of Goddess Parvati. As per the legends, it is also said that she was born to rishi Katyayana, and thus got this name.

A sage Kshatriya of a great caste was born in our sages but they did not have any child. To fulfil the longing to get Mother Bhagwati as a daughter, she made harsh austerity of Parama Maa Bhagwati.

Goddess gave her the blessing of a daughter, after being pleased with the penance of Maharishi Katyayana. She is also known as  Bhadrakali and Chandika. A worthy and kind husband is received by her grace and by worshipping her, the barriers in marriage can be sorted.

Girls facing troubles in getting married, if worships her wholeheartedly and chats Oṃ Devī Kātyāyanyai Namaḥ, can get a smooth and happy marriage, and also, the problems in planets can also be eradicated by revering her. She was worshipped by Radha, rukmini and sita for a good husband. She is depicted with either four, ten, or eighteen hands and rides on a magnificent lion. She carries a lotus flower and sword in her left hands respectively and keeps her right hands in Varadamudras and Abhayamudra. The devotees offer her honey in the prasad and she governs the planet Jupiter.

Kaalratri Devi – The nine manifestations of goddess parvati are widely worshipped during the span of nine nights, called and celebrated as Navratri. This is a sacred Hindu festival, associated with two auspicious legends. The first one being the demise of Mahishasur by Durga, and the second being death of Ravana by ram. It is celebrated in the month of Ashwina. 

Also referred to as Goddess Shubhankari, the seventh and the most ferocious and destructive avtar of Navdurga, is worshipped on the seventh day of navratri, saptami. The narrative behind this avtar goes as once Rakshas Shumbha-Nishumbha and Raktabeej had created havoc in heaven and earth. Seeing this chaos, all the demigods went to seek help from lord shiva, who asked devi parvati to kill them and protect her devotees.

Obeying the orders of lord Shiva, devi parvati took the form of maa durga and killed Shumbha-Nishumbha, but when she killed raktabeej, as soon as a drop of his blood fell on the battle-ground, a new raktabeej was born. Hence, millions of raktabeej were produced. At that moment, Maa Durga took the form of goddess Kalratri and every time Durga killed the raktabeej, Kalaratri filled his blood in her face and butchered his blood base after slitting his throat.

She is also revered as  Kali, Mahakali, Rudrani, Chamunda, Chandi  Bhadrakali, Bhairavi, Mrityu, and Durga. She is known for eliminating darkness from the universe, destroying all demon entities, ghosts, evil spirits and negative energies and destroying ignorance. Thus, worshipping the kaalratri mantra Oṃ Devī Kālarātryai Namaḥ can eliminate all the fright from the heart and make the devotees valiant and self-confident. The idolized form of Kalratri devi is seen riding a dark black donkey and she has four hands.

The positioning of her hands is in varada and abhaya mudra and she carries an iron hook and sword in her left hands. She is dark black in complexion. Goddess Kaalratri grants a protective shield around her devotees. She is believed to contain the entire universe in her third eye on her forehead. The devotees offer her jaggery as prasad to attain relief from all the pain and obstacles. 

Mahagauri Devi – The eight manifestation of Durga Maa, Mahagauri Devi, is worshipped on the eight-day (Ashtami) of the joyous festival Navratri. As per the legends, Maa Mahagauri has the competence to fulfil all the aspirations of her devotees.

The one who takes her blessings and chants the mantra  Om Devi Mahagauryai Namah gets relief from all the sufferings in life and it clears the devotee’s heart and makes him pious. Also, she bestows the knowledge to acquire the true reality. She is the goddess of cleanliness and purity.  Mahagauri Devi is depicted with four hands. Her hands hold a trident, drum, lotus, and while the fourth is in a blessing indication.

The lotus, may sometimes, be replaced with a rosary. Her vehicle is a white bull and Devi usually wears white clothes, corresponding to her name, that means extremely white and beautiful. Goddess Shailputri had an extremely fair complexion and was very beautiful at the age of 16, due to which, got the name of Mahagauri. The narrative behind the story of Mahagauri goes as follows.

There were demons called nishumbha and shumbha that could only be killed by the girl child of Parvati. So, mahadeva used his powers and turned parvati’s skin into black colour, as suggested by Brahma. But parvati was tensed as kali also signified death. So, after a severe penance of brahma ji, parvati was advised to take a bath in the Mansarovar River in Himalaya.

Due to the bath, her dark skin separated, taking the form of a female, called Kaushiki. The black skin got separated, and Parvati got her complexion back, which gave her the name of Mahagauri- the most beautiful. The planet rahu is governed by her and her favourite colour is purple. Her devotees offer her coconuts to please her and her favourite flower is mogra.

Siddhidatri Devi – The nine manifested forms of Maa Durga are venerated respectively for each night during the sacred Hindu festival, Navratri. These nine nights are concluded with Dussehra on the tenth day which marks the triumph of good over evil. ‘Navratri’ in Sanskrit refers to ‘nine nights’. The original form (mool roop) of Goddess Parvati, Siddhidatri Devi has four hands holding a  conch shell, trident discus, and mace, and she sits on a lion or a fully bloomed lotus.

She possesses eight supernatural powers, or the siddhis, called Anima,  Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Mahima,Prakambya, Ishitva and Vashitva. Ishitva indicates possessing absolute lordship;  Laghima indicates becoming weightless; Garima indicates becoming infinitely heavy; Vashitva indicates having the power to subjugate all; Anima indicates reducing one’s body to the size of an atom; Mahima indicates expanding one’s body to an infinitely large size; Prapti indicates having omnipresence.

Siddhidatri Devi blessed Lord Shiva by booming him with all the eight powers. The beliefs also say that one-half side of Lord Shiva’s body is that of Siddhidatri Devi, thus he is referred to as Ardhanarishwar. As per the legends,  the unmanifest form of the Mother Goddess, Adi Parashakti was worshipped by Lord Rudra for the creation of the universe.

But since the mother goddess had no finite form, she appeared as Devi Siddhidatri and formed the left half of Mahadeva. This form of Navdurga is worshipped on the last day of Navratri and it is believed that she is easily pleased with her devotees and on the day she is worshipped, devotees should put all their attention towards the Nirvana chakra, which is located in the middle of our skull.

The planet Ketu is governed by her and her favourite colour is Peacock green. Devi Siddhidatri is offered sesame seeds for security and safety from unnatural events. This is the nine Devi name list worshipped during nine days of Navratri. The Hindu festival that stretches for nine nights, Navratri, marks the triumph of good over evil and is celebrated across the world by worshipping the Navdurgas-  Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidhatri.

It occurs during the month of Ashwina and is concluded on the tenth day, popularly known as Dussehra. Stage decorations,  enacting of the story,  recital of the legend, and chanting of the scriptures of Hinduism is the major part of its celebrations. 

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