The prominent story associated with Navratri is the battle that took place between goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura, who represents egotism. It is in this form that the goddess was worshipped as the consort of Shiva. The colour of the first day is red--it depicts action and vigour.
According to the Krittibas Ramayana, Rama invoked the goddess Durga in his epic battle against Ravana. Although Goddess Durga was traditionally worshipped in the late spring, due to contingencies of battle, Lord Rama had to invoke her in the form of astam (eighth) Mahavidya (Maa Bagla) in the autumn and thus is known as akaal bodhan (invoking out of scheduled time).
This autumnal ritual was different from the conventional Durga Puja, which is usually celebrated in the springtime. So, this Puja is also known as 'akal-bodhan' or out-of-season ('akal') worship ('bodhan'). This Rama's date for the Navaratri puja has now gained ascendancy and culminates with Dussehra in North India on the following day. The Goddess takes up a new look, a fresh avatar, and a new responsibility each day.
Navaratri – Nava (nine) and ratri (night) in sanskrit, refers to nine nights and so the tenth day Goddess Durga, who is worshipped throughout the nine days, is immersed in holy water after pooja. Each day has its importance and meaning. The first form of Maa Durga is Shailputri, who was born to the King of Mountains.
“Shail” means mountain and “putri” means daughter. On the second day of Navaratri, Maa Brahmacharini – a manifestation of Maa Durga – is worshipped. The form of Goddess Brahmacharini is extremely radiant and majestic. Maa signifies love and loyalty, wisdom and knowledge. She holds a rosary in her hight hand and a Kamandal in her left hand.
Chandraghanta is the third manifestation of Devi Durga and is worshipped on the 3rd of Navratri. Since she has a Chandra or half moon, in the shape of a Ghanta (bell), on her forehead, she is addressed as Chandraghanta. Kusumanḍa (the creator of the universe), is the fourth manifestation of Devi Durga.
The 5th day of Navratri is dedicated to Goddess Skandamata, the 5th manifestation of Goddess Durga and the mother of Lord Kartikeya, who was chosen by the devatas as their commander in chief in the war against the demons. The 6th day of Navaratri festival is dedicated to Maa Katyayani, the 6th Avtar of Goddess Durga. Once there was a great sage named Katya and it was his wish that Maa Durga be born his daughter. He practiced austere penance for several years to please the Gods. Kalratri is the seventh manifestation of Goddess Durga. She is worshipped in this form on the seventh day of Navratri. Kalratri is the most fierce form of the Goddess. The complexion of Goddess Kalratri is extremely dark like night.
Mahagauri (the wife of Lord Shiva, doing great penance) is the eight manifestation of Devi Durga. Siddhidatri (Provider of Siddhis, giver of mystic powers) is the ninth form of Devi Durga. Navaratri has historically been a prominent ritual festival for kings and military of a kingdom. At the end of the Navratri, comes Dussehra, where the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna, and Meghanada are burnt to celebrate the victory of good (Rama) over evil forces on Vijayadashami.
The festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the Vijayadashami.
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