Nine forms of Maa Durga
During Navratri, Maa Durga is worshipped in nine forms. Following forms have their own significance.
Shailaputri literally means the daughter (putri) of the mountains (shaila). Variously known as Sati Bhavani, Parvati or Hemavati, the daughter of Hemavana – the king of the Himalayas, she is the first among Navadurgas. Her worship takes place on the first day of Navratri – the nine divine nights. The embodiment of the power of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, she rides a bull and carries a trident and a lotus in her two hands.
A bell shaped mark of moon which is present on the fore head of Maa Chandraghanta, because of this Maa is known as Chandraghanta.
The colour of her body is golden, she rides on lion who descrides “dharma”, possesses ten hands and three eyes, eight of Her hands display weapons while the remaining two are respectively in the mudras of gestures of boon giving and stopping harm. She is worshipped on third day of Navratri.
May Kushmanda Ma Durga who holds two pitchers full of blood in her lotus hands and the universe is created, sustained and drawn within Devi’s ownself. In this form Mother Durga creates solar system by liberating her power to Lord Sun.
As Mother of Skanda or Kartikeya, Maa Parvati or Maa Durga is known as Skandmata. Skanda is seated in her lap. She has three eyes and four hands. She is white and seated on a lotus. Legend has it that once a great demon Tarakasur did extreme penance and pleased Brahmaji. He wanted a boon to become immortal. Brahmaji said whosoever has come to this world, has to leave too, so ask for something else. Tarkasur was very clever. He said that whenever I die, the death should be at the hands of son of Lord Shiva. The boon was granted. Tarkasur thought Lord Shiva will never get married, so there would be no son and he would never die. Tarkasur considering himself to be invincible started tormenting the world. All the devtas went before Lord Shiva and asked his help. They requested him to get married. Shankarji was reluctant but at last he agreed. After taking human form, he got married to Parvati. She gave birth to Kartikeya or Skandkumar who later killed Tarkasur. She is worshipped on fifth day of Navratri.
According to ancient legends, she was born a daughter of Katyayan Rishi, born in the Katya lineage, thus called Katyayani, “daughter of Katyayan” . Elsewhere in texts like the Kalika Purana, it is mentioned that it was Rishi Kaytyayan who first worshipped her, hence she came to known as ‘Katyayani. In either case, she is a demonstration or apparition of the Durga, and is worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri festival. The Katyayani vrata is observed and it is said that maidens who observe this vrata, are blessed with the husband of their choice.
This form of Maa has a dark complexion, disheveled hair and a fearlessness posture. A necklace flashing lightning adorns her neck. She has three eyes that shine bright and terrible flames emanate from her breath. Her vehicle is the donkey. Her raised right hand always seems to grant boons to all worshippers and all her right lower hand is in the pose of allaying fears. Her left upper hand holds a thorn-like weapon, made of iron and there is a dragger in the lower left hand. She is black like Goddess Kali and holds a sparkling sword in her right hand battle all evil. Her gesture of protection assures us of freedom from fear and troubles. So she is also known as ‘Shubhamkari’ – one who does good.
Maha Gauri is intelligent, peaceful and calm. Due to her long austerities in the deep forests of the Himalayas, she developed a dark complexion. When Lord Shiva cleaned her with the water of the Ganges, her body regained its beauty and she came to be known as Maha Gauri, which mean extremely white. She wears white clothes, has four arms, and rides on a bull. Her right hand is in the pose of allaying fear and her right lower hand holds a trident. The left upper hand holds a ‘damru’ (a small rattle drum) and the lower one is in the pose of granting boons to her devotees. She is worshipped on eighth day of Navratri.
Maa Siddhidatri is the ninth form of Goddess Durga worshiped in Navratri. The last among the nine forms of Maa Shakti is Goddess Siddhidatri who is worshiped on the ninth or final day of Navratri. ‘Siddhi’ is a Sanskrit term which means ‘perfection’. Goddess Siddhidatri has four arms. She holds a Chakra in her right lower hand and a mace in the upper. In the left lower hand there is a conch and in her upper left hand a lotus flower. She is seated on a lotus flower with the lion as her mount.