It is not less than a week ago that India witnessed one of the brightest and most energetic festivals of the country-The Navratri.
It is a nine-day long festival that worships Goddess Durga but also celebrates womanhood and femininity in its principles.
The folklore behind Devi Durga’s incarnation goes that a demon named Mahishasur, upon receiving a boon from Lord Brahma started creating chaos in the Trilok- Heaven, Earth and Hell. The boon he received ensured that no man would be able to harm him or kill him.
Left with no option, the three main Gods- Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma combined their powers together to create a powerful woman called Durga. She is said to be the incarnation of Devi Parvati and is a very powerful form with tremendous energy and exceptional warrior skills.
Thus, Devi Durga set out on her mission to kill the asura and engaged in a 15-day-long battle with him. On the last day of the battle, she killed him in his buffalo form using her trishul.
These nine days signify the battle between the goddess and the asura and the tenth day signifies the triumph of good over evil.
During this time people engage in various pujas and follow other rituals such as performing traditional dance forms like Dandiya and Garba, holding Mata Jagratas which are night events where devotees sing prayers of the goddess, fasting, etc.
On each day, a different form of the Goddess is worshipped:
On the first day, the Goddess is worshipped as Shailiputri or the daughter of the mountain. She was the consort of Lord Shiva- Sati and is seen riding a bull.
She is said to be the mother of the universe and hence radiates power and energy. To symbolise this, orange colour is worn on this day.
It is believed that if a devotee offers pure ghee on the feet of Shailputri, he/she will be blessed with a long, healthy life.
White is the colour of the day where Goddess Durga is worshipped as Brahmacharini- a lady dressed in white who walks barefoot with a kamandalu in one hand and a rudraksha mala in another.
This avatar symbolises the time when Devi Parvati performed deep penance to please Lord Shiva and get him to marry her.
Sugar is offered to the goddess on this day to pray for longevity of family and friends.
The third day celebrates the success of Devi Parvati in getting Lord Shiva to agree to marry her. Hence, colour red is chosen for the day.
On this day the Goddess takes the form of Chandraghanta, a ten-armed goddess with a crescent moon on her head and her third eye open. This symbolises the Devi’s role as Lord Shiva’s consort.
Kheer is offered to the goddess on this day asking her to wash away all pains.
Royal blue is the colour of the day as Devi Durga is worshipped as Kushmanda who is said to have been given the task of maintaining the health and wellbeing of earth.
Mal Pua is offered to the goddess asking her to bless them with intellect.
This day celebrates motherhood as the Goddess is worshipped as Skandamata who is seen holding baby Kartikeya and pampering him.
People wear yellow colour on this day to signify the aspects of motherhood such as joy, warmth, energy, etc.
Bananas are offered to the goddess on this day.
Seen riding on a lion on this day is a ferocious form of Goddess Durga called Katyayani. She is depicted carrying a sword and, on a spree to finish off all evil.
Green is worn on this day to symbolise the end of evil and of new and fresh beginning.
Honey is offered to the goddess to symbolise a sweet start.
On this day, Goddess Kalaratri is honoured.
She is seen as a four-armed deity riding a donkey and holding a sword, a trident and a noose.
She is said to have given up on her fair skin to embrace a darker complexion to fight demons and hence, colour grey is worn on this day.
The Goddess is offered jaggery as prasad to ask her to protect them from evil.
Ashtami or the eight day is dedicated to Goddess Mahagauri who is said to be the embodiment of peace, serenity and intelligence.
Purple is worn on this day to symbolise the same and the Goddess is offered coconuts.
Navami- the ninth and the final day of Navratri is dedicated in the name of Goddess Siddhidhatri who is seen seated on a lotus while holding a mace, a book and a discus in her hands.
She is worshipped as the Goddess who helps her devotees attain their spiritual goals.
Peacock green is worn on this day and the deity is offered sesame seeds.
In this manner the joyous festival of Navratri is celebrated across India with great zeal and fervour. It reminds us of importance of femininity in our existence.