Navratri is one of the prominent Hindu festivals which is celebrated in the Ashwin month, according to Hindu lunar calendar. Navratri, which means 'nine nights' is the time when Goddess Durga descends on the Earth to bless her devotees with wisdom, peace and wealth. This year Navratri has kickstarted on 10th October and will end on 18th of October. Nine manifestations of Durga are worshipped on each day of Navratri. On the tenth day, idols of the goddess are immersed in water bodies. On this day, Dusshera is also celebrated which marks the victory of good over evil. In West Bengal, last five days of Navratri are celebrated as Durga Puja. People go for pandal hopping, wear new clothes, chant bhajans, sing folk songs and enjoy social gatherings.
Let's know about nine avatars of Devi which are worshipped during Navratri.
After self-immolation, when Goddess Sati took birth as the daughter of Lord Himalaya, she came to be known as Shailputri, which means the daughter of mountain. The Goddess governs moon and is worshipped on the first day of Navratri. She rides on a bull and is also known as Hemavati and Parvati. 'Om Devi Shailaputryai Namah॥' is the mantra to please her.
The unmarried avatar of Goddess Parvati is worshipped as Goddess Brahmacharini. It is believed that she governs the planet of Mangal. The Goddess carries a rosary in one hand and kamandal in the other. Please the Goddess with mantra, 'Om Devi Brahmacharinyai Namah॥'.
Goddess Chandraghanta adorns half chandra (Moon) on her forehead which resembles bell, hence she got the name Chandraghanta. She rides on a tigress and governs the planet Shukra. She has ten arms and it is believed that the sound of moon-like bell on her forehead wards away all evil spirit. Chant, 'Om Devi Chandraghantayai Namah॥' to please her.
Goddess Kushmanda, who is worshipped on the fourth day of Navratri is believed to have lived at the center of the sun. Her name is derived from three words Ku which means little, Ushma means energy and Anda mean cosmic egg. She is believed to provide energy to the sun. She has eight arms, hence she is also known as Ashtabhuja Devi. Mythology says that she created the entire universe just by the flash of her smile. 'Om Devi Kushmandayai Namah॥' is the mantra you can chant while offering her prayers.
Goddess Skandamata mounts on a lion and carries Lord Skanda, also known as Kartikeya on her lap. She has four arms and governs the planet Budha (Mercury). Chant 'Om Devi Skandamatayai Namah॥ as you offer her red flowers during prayers.
When Goddess Parvati decided to destroy the demon Mahishasura, she took the form of Goddess Katyayani. Hence, this avatar of the devi is also known as the warrior goddess. Worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri, Goddess Katyayani rides on lions and has four arms. She is offered red coloured flowers along with mantra, 'Om Devi Katyayanyai Namah॥'
To kill Shumbha and Nishumbha, Goddess Parvati removed her outer skin and hence came to be known as Goddess Kalaratri. She is the most fearsome avatar of Goddess Parvati. She rides on a donkey and governs the planet Saturn (Shani). She is also known as Goddess Shubhankari. Offer her prayers along with the mantra, 'Om Devi Kalaratryai Namah॥'.
At the age of sixteen, Goddess Shailputri's complexion was extremely fair, hence she came to be known as Goddess Mahagauri. She governs planet Rahu and is worshipped on the eighth day of Navratri. She rides on a bull and has four arms. She only adorns white clothes. Offer her night-blooming jasmine while chanting 'Om Devi Mahagauryai Namah॥'
Worshipped on the ninth day of Navratri, Goddess Siddhidatri sits on lotus flower and rides on a lion. She bestows her devotees with all siddhis. Folks say that when Goddess Siddhidatri appeared from the left half of Lord Shiva, he came to be known as Ardhanarishwara. Chant, 'Om Devi Siddhidatryai Namah॥' as you pray to the devi.