Navratri, one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India, is dedicated to nine forms of Durga. This Navratri, let us learn about the nine incarnations of Goddess Durga and the special prashads offered to them.
India is a land of festivals and after the 15-day-long Pitru Paksha, comes Navratri- a festival celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm in India and by Indians living abroad. “Navratri” translates to nine nights in Sanskrit and marks ritualistic fasting, pooja, garba, and of course, celebration. Dedicated to the nine incarnations of Goddess Durga, Hindus worship nine different manifestations of Shakti or Durga during each of these nine days.
As per Hindu mythology, “Nav Durga” is pleased with special offerings and prayers. During Navratri, devotees narrate and reiterate Nav Durga in their homes and worship the nine incarnations of Goddess Durga for health, wealth, happiness, and prosperity. Each day, devotees offer special prasad or offerings to the “Nav Durga.” Here are the nine forms of Durga and special prashads offered to them. Have a look.
She is the first form of Durga and is associated with the colour red. As per Hindu legends, Goddess Durga is depicted with a Trishul in one hand and a rose in another. She rides on a bull known as “Nandi”. The Goddess is offered a desi ghee. It is believed when desi ghee is offered to the deity, it protects devotees from illnesses and diseases.
Representing wisdom and knowledge, Goddess Brahmacharini is two-armed, holds a Rudraksha mala and kamandalu in their hands, and wears a white saree. The Goddess loves simple food and is offered the same. Generally, devotees offer a prashad of sugar and fruits to Goddess Brahmacharini. Devotees may offer sugar candies or sweets like basundi or kheer as prasad.
Third day is dedicated to Goddess Chandraghanta who symbolizes peace and serenity. Depicted as a fierce 10-armed Goddess, roaring in anger, Maa Chandraghanta has a golden complexion and she wears a crescent moon on her forehead. The Goddess is pleased by offering milk, sweets, or kheer, and milk-based sweets like kesar peda or kesariya rice.
Navratri’s fourth day is dedicated to Goddess Kushmanda whose name is made of three other words ‘Ku' which means little, ‘Ushma' which means warmth or energy and ‘Amnda' which means egg. She is believed to be the Goddess who created the universe as the “Little Cosmic Egg” with warmth and energy. Goddess Kushmunda is offered Malpua also known as sweet pancakes or gud ki chana also known as jaggery-soaked chickpeas.
The fifth incarnation of Durga is Goddess Skandamata who is believed to have a four-armed deity, who carries a lotus, Kamandalu, and a bell. She is also depicted carrying little Kartikay, also known as Skanda, in her lap. As per Hindu mythology, a bhog of bananas is offered to the goddess along with other fruits.
Goddess Katyayani is worshipped on Navratri's sixth day. With four arms and a sword in one, the Goddess rides a lion and is pleased with true devotion and piety. The Goddess is offered honey as the special prashad. Devotees worship the Goddess to prevent bitter troubles.
Worshipped on the seventh day of Navratri, Goddess Kalaratri is believed to have four arms and rides on a donkey with a sword, a noose, and a trident in her hands. This ferocious Goddess protects devotees from spirits and evil powers. Goddess Kalaratri is offered jaggery or jaggery-based sweets as prasad to this fierce form of Durga.
During the eighth day of Navratri or Durga Asthami, Goddess Mahagauri is worshipped. If Hindu legends are to be believed, Goddess Mahagauri is a four-armed deity who rides a bull or a white elephant with a Trishul and damru. Goddess Mahagauri is offered a special prashad of coconut and rice-based sweets. There is a common belief among devotees that donating coconuts to the Brahmans on Ashtami provides a boon to the child.
Ninth and the final day of Navratri is dedicated to Goddess Siddhidatri. Often depicted as a four-armed deity sitting calmly on a lotus with a mace, discus, and a book. The Goddess is offered sesame seeds or til which protects devotees from unfortunate mishaps.