Navadurga(Devanagari:नवदुर्गा), which literally means Nine forms of Goddess Durga, constitute according to Hindu mythology, the manifestation of Goddess Durga, the Mother Goddess, in nine different forms. These nine forms of manifestation are:
- Śailaputrī शैलपुत्री
- Brahmachāriṇī व्रह्मचारणी
- Candraghaṇṭā चन्द्रघन्टा
- Kuśamāṇḍā कुशमन्दा
- Skandamātā स्कन्दमाता
- Kātyāyanī कात्यायनी
- Kālarātrī कालरात्री
- Mahāgaurī महागौरी
- Siddhidātrī सिद्धिदात्री
These nine forms are worshipped together during the Navratri(Nine Divine Nights) celebrations, that occur four times throughout the year, namely:
- Chaitra Navratri
- Sharad Navratri(most significant and widely celebrated)
- Maha Gupta Navratri
- Ashadha Gupta Navratri
Forms Of Manifestation
- Devi Siddidhatri - In the beginning of the universe, Lord Rudra worshipped the unmanifest form of the Mother Goddess, Adi Parashakti for creation. As Adi Parashakti, the Mother Goddess was pure energy and had no form. She thus appeared in the form of Siddhidatri from the left half of Shiva.
- Devi Kushmanda - After taking the form of Siddhidatri, the Mother Goddess started living within the Sun thereby liberating the Sun's energy to the universe. Since then, this form of the Goddess has been known as Kushmanda, namely for her power and capability to live inside the Sun. The glow and radiance of her body is as luminous as that of the Sun.
- Devi Brahmacharini - After the Kushmanda form, the Mother Goddess took birth at the home of Daksha Prajapati, as his daughter, Sati, who was born to marry Shiva. This unmarried form of the Mother Goddess is worshipped as Brahmacharini.
- Devi Shailputri - After self-immolation in Her form as Sati, the Mother Goddess took birth as the daughter of Lord Himalaya. In Sanskrit, Shail means "the mountain", due to which this form is known as Shailputri, the daughter of the mountain.
- Devi Mahagauri - According to Hindu mythologies, the Goddess Shailputri at the age of sixteen was extremely beautiful and blessed with a fair complexion. Due to her extremely fair complexion, she was known as Goddess Mahagauri.
- Devi Chandraghanta - Goddess Chandraghanta is the married form of the Mother Goddess following on from Shailputri and Mahagauri. After getting married to Shiva, Goddess Mahagauri started adorning her forehead with a half moon(Chandra) shaped like a bell(Ghanta) due to which, she became known as Goddess Chandraghanta.
- Devi Skandamata - In her form as mother of the God of War, Lord Skanda(also known as Kartikeya), she is known as Goddess Skandamata.
- Devi Katyayani - To destroy demon Mahishasura, the Mother Goddess manifested as Goddess Katyayani. This is one of the more violent forms of the Mother Goddess in which she manifests as a Warrior Goddess.
- Devi Kalaratri - This is the fiercest and the most ferocious form of the Mother Goddess, in which she manifests to destroy the demons, Sumbha and Nisumbha.
Each one of Navadurga is known by a particular name and each goddess has Her respective governing planet, iconography(in the form of a mount, number of hands and items held), mantra for invocation (usually repeated 108 times at each sitting during the period of Navratri), dedicated day of Navratri worship and respective prayers(pratharna, stuti, dyana, etc.):
Day of worship: 1st day of Navratri
Governing planet: Moon
Mantra: Om Devi Shailaputryai Namah ॐ देवी शैलपुत्र्यै नम
Iconography: She rides a bull, carrying a Trishul(trident) in her right hand and a lotus flower in Her left hand.
Day of worship: 2nd day of Navratri
Governing planet: Mars
Mantra: Om Devi Brahmacharinyai Namah ॐ देवी ब्रह्मचारिण्यै नम
Day of worship: 3rd day of Navratri
Governing planet: Venus
Mantra: Om Devi Chandraghantayai Namah ॐ देवी चन्द्रघण्टायै नम
Iconography: Goddess Chandraghanta mounts the tigress. She wears the semi-circular moon(Chandra) on her forehead. The half-moon on her forehead looks like the bell(Ghanta) and hence, Her name. She is depicted with ten hands. Goddess Chandraghanta carries Trishul, Gada, sword and kamandalu in Her four left hands and keeps the fifth left hand in Varadamudra. She carries a lotus flower, arrow, Dhanush and Japa Mala in Her four right hands and keeps the fifth right hand in Abhaya Mudra.
Special powers: This form of the Mother Goddess is ready for war with all her weapons, to protect the peace and welfare of Her devotees.It is believed that the sound of the moon-bell on her forehead drives all types of spirits away from Her devotees.
Day of worship: 4th day of Navratri
Governing planet: Sun
Mantra: Om Devi Kushmandayai Namah ॐ देवी कूष्माण्डायै नम
Iconography: Rides on a lioness and has eight hands. She holds a kamandalu, Dhanush, Bada and Kamal in Her right hands. Her left hands hold Amrit Kalash(pot of nectar), japa mala(prayer beads), Gada and Chakra - in that order.
Specific power: She created the universe in the flash of Her smile and is believed to bestow siddhis(supernatural powers) and niddhis(wealth) to Her devotees.
Day of worship: 5th day of Navratri
Governing planet: Mercury
Mantra: Om Devi Skandamatayai Namah ॐ देवी स्कन्दमातायै नम
Iconography: Goddess Skandamata mounts the ferocious lion. She carries baby Skanda in her lap. Lord Skanda(also known as Kartikeya or Lord Murugan) is the brother of Ganesha. Goddess Skandamata is depicted with four hands. She carries lotus flowers in Her upper two hands. She holds baby Skanda in one of Her right hands and keeps the other right hand in Abhayamudra. She sits on a lotus flower and because of that, is also known as Goddess Padmasana.
Special powers: Devotees who worship this form of the Mother Goddess get the added benefit of blessings of Lord Skanda, the God of War(also known as Kartikeya).
Day of worship: 6th day of Navratri
Governing planet: Jupiter
Mantra: Om Devi Katyayanyai Namah ॐ देवी कात्यायन्यै नम
Iconography: Goddess Katyayani rides on a magnificent lion and is depicted with four hands. She carries a lotus flower and sword in her left hands respectively and keeps her right hands in Abhayamudra and Varadamudras.
Day of worship: 7th day of Navratri
Governing planet: Saturn
Mantra: Om Devi Kalaratryai Namah ॐ देवी कालरात्र्यै नम
Iconography: Her complexion is dark black and She rides on a donkey. She is depicted with four hands. Her right hands are in Abhayamudra and Varadamudra. She carries a sword and deadly iron hook in her left hands.
Day of worship: 8th day of Navratri
Governing planet: Rahu
Mantra: Om Devi Mahagauryai Namah ॐ देवी महागौर्यै नम
Iconography: She rides the bull, just like Goddess Shailputri. She has four arms, holding a Trishul in one of her right hands and depicts the Abhayamudra with the other right hand. She carries a Damaru in one left hand and depicts the Varadamudra in her other left hand.
Day of worship: 9th day of Navratri
Governing planet: Ketu
Mantra: Om Devi Siddhidatryai Namah ॐ देवी सिद्धिदात्र्यै नम
Iconography: Goddess Siddhidatri sits on Kamal and rides on the lion. She is depicted with four hands. She has Gada in the one right hand, Chakra in the other right hand, lotus flower in the left hand and Shankh in the other left hand.
- Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dhallapiccola