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"Nine nights for Mother Goddess, full of dance and songs. People worship her image with flowers and prayers long. May the Goddess bless us with precious gifts to mankind. People praise her image full of eauty divine!"

~ Poetry dedicated to Mother Goddess

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Navaratri is a nine night festival that honors the Mother Goddess in all her manifestations. 

Festival is celebrated in late September orearly October each year. In 2016, Navaratri starts on October 1 and ends on October 10. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar, and there are actually 10 nights this year instead of the usual nine.

Over the course of the nine days, the Mother Goddess (Goddess Durga, who is an aspect of Goddess Pavarti) is worshiped in her various forms. The worship, accompanied by fasting, takes place in the mornings. Evenings are for feasting and dancing. Each day has a different ritual associated with it. In addition, predominantly in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, there's a custom of wearing different colors of dress on each day.

The festival culminates with Dussehra, the victory of good over evil, on the tenth day.


Shailaputri

Om Devi Shailaputryai Namah ~ ॐ देवी शैलपुत्र्यै नम

Day 1: Pratipada falls across two dates this year. To mark the commencement of Navaratri, a ritual called Ghatasthapana is performed to invoke the energy of the goddess. On Pratipada, the goddess is worshiped as Shailputri, an incarnation of Goddess Parvati meaning 'Daughter of the Mountain'. She represents nature and purity.

Iconography: Shailaputri rides a bull, carrying a trishul (Trident) in her right hand and a lotus flower in her left hand.
Governing planet: Moon
Color: Grey & Orange


Brahmacharini

Om Devi Brahmacharinyai Namah ~ ॐ देवी ब्रह्मचारिण्यै नम

Day 2: Dwitiya is when the goddess is worshiped as Brahmacharini, the unmarried form of Goddess Parvati. As she undertook great penance to get Lord Shiva to marry her, she's associated with pious strictness. Word 'Brahma' stands also for meditation and penance. She is also goddess of meditation, who is reminding us importance of patience, discipline and time flow.

Iconography: Brahmacharini walks on bare feet, carrying a beads (Japa Mala) in her right hand and a pot for water (Kamandalu) in her left hand.
Governing planet: Mars
Color: White


Chandraghanta

Om Devi Chandraghantayai Namah ~ ॐ देवी चन्द्रघण्टायै नम

Day 3: Tritiya is when the goddess is worshiped as Chandraghanta, the married form the Goddess Parvati. Her name is derived from the half moon on her forehead, which looks like a bell. It is believed that the sound of the moon-bell on her forehead drives all types of spirits away from her devotees. She's depicted riding on a tigress, with ten heads with all her weapons. She is ready for war to protect the peace and welfare of her devotees. She might look horrific, but she is bringing peace. She is associated with bravery and courage to fight evil.

Iconography: Chandraghanta rides the tigress. She wears the semi-circular moon (Chandra) on her forehead, which looks like the bell (Ghanta). She is depicted with ten hands, in which she carries Trident, hole (Gada), sword and pot for water (Kamandalu) in her four left hands and keeps the fifth left hand in Varada Mudra. She carries a lotus flower, arrow, bows and beads (Japa Mala) in her four right hands and keeps the fifth right hand in Abhaya Mudra.
Governing planet: Venus
Color: Red


Kushmanda

Om Devi Kushmandayai Namah ~ ॐ देवी कूष्माण्डायै नम

Kushmanda
Day 4: Chaturthi is when the goddess is worshiped as Kushmanda, who lived inside the sun and is believed to have created the universe in the flash of her smile, giving light and energy to it. She represents the form of Durga that is the source of all. It is believed, that she bestows supernatural powers (Siddhis) and wealth (Niddhis) to her devotees.

Iconography: Kushmanda rides on a lioness and has eight hands. She holds a pot for water (Kamandalu), hole, bow and arrows in her right hands. Her left hands hold pot of nectar (Amrit), prayer beads (Japa Mala), lotos flower and disk (Chakra).
Color: Navy Blue
Governing planet: Sun


Skanda Mata

Om Devi Skandamatayai Namah ~ ॐ देवी स्कन्दमातायै नम

Day 6: Panchami is when the goddess is worshiped as Skandamata, the mother of Kartikeya (also known as Skanda or Murugan), son of Lord Shiva and brother of Lord Ganesha. She carries baby Skanda in her lap, who is representing life created in her womb. Devotees who worship this form of the Mother Goddess get the added benefit of blessings of Lord Skanda, the God of War.

Iconography: Goddess Skandamata mounts the ferocious lion. She carries baby Skanda in her lap and is depicted with four hands. She carries lotus flowers in her upper two hands. She holds baby Skanda in one of her right hands and keeps the other right hand in Abhaya Mudra. She sits on a lotus flower and because of that, is also known as Goddess Padmasana.
Color: Yellow
Governing planet: Mercur


Katyayani

Om Devi Katyayanyai Namah ~ ॐ देवी कात्यायन्यै नम

Day 6: Shasthi is when the goddess is worshiped as Katyayani, who Goddess Parvarti morphed into in order to fight and destroy the buffalo demon Mahishasura. She represents a warrior form of the goddess. She might look strict and cruel at first sight, but her determination gives us power to fight fears, diseases and all the problems. It is also night, when men are dressed as women to demonstrate, that all was created from the Mother Goddess.

Iconography: Katyayani rides on a magnificent lion and is depicted with four hands. She carries a lotus flower and sword in her left hands respectively and keeps her right hands in Abhaya Mudra and Varada Mudra.
Color: Green
Governing planet: Jupiter


Kalaratri

Om Devi Kalaratryai Namah ~ ॐ देवी कालरात्र्यै नम

Day 7: Saptami (October 8, 2016) is when the goddess is worshiped as Kalaratri, the dark night. She appeared to destroy some particularly evil demons in the battle against Mahishasura. She's the goddess's fiercest form and represents protection from all troubles.

Iconography: Kalaratri rides on a donkey, her complexion is dark black. She is depicted with four hands. Her right hands are in Abhaya Mudra and Varada Mudra. She carries a sword and deadly iron hook in her left hands.
Color: Peacock Green
Governing planet: Satur


Maha Gauri

Om Devi Mahagauryai Namah ~ ॐ देवी महागौर्यै नम

Day 8: Ashtami is when the goddess is worshiped as Mahagauri, the younger version of Shailputri who has a very fair and perfect complexion, which she gained after Lord Shiva bathed her in river Ganga. The light spreading from her is the light of life. She represents beauty and grace, and the cleansing of sins.

Iconography: She rides the bull, just like Goddess Shailputri. She has four arms, holding a trishul (Trident) in one of her right hands and depicts the Abhaya Mudra with the other right hand. She carries a drum (Damaru) in one left hand and depicts the Varada Mudra in her other left hand.
Color: Purple
Governing planet: Rahu


Siddhidatri

Om Devi Siddhidatryai Namah ~ ॐ देवी सिद्धिदात्र्यै नम

Day 9: Navami is when the goddess is worshiped as Siddhidatri, who embodies all eight supernatural powers (Siddhis). She is believed to have granted them to Lord Shiva when he worshiped her, and she also bestows them upon her devotees.

Iconography: Goddess Siddhidatri sits on lotos flower and rides on the lion. She is depicted with four hands. She has wand (Gada) in the one right hand, disc (Chakra) in the other right hand, lotus flower in the left hand and conch (Shankh) in the other left hand.
Color: Sky Blue


TEXT: Zuzana Zwiebel

SOURCES: www.goindia.about.com | www.wikipedia.org | www.indiaonlinepages.com | www.swamivishwananda-cz.blogspot.in

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