Navadurga - The nine different forms of the Divine Feminine

On this auspicious day, the team of Mysticadii wishes everyone a very happy and prosperous Dussehra. Dussehra is one of the most prominent and important festivals celebrated across India. It embarks the end of a nine-day festival known as Navaratri and is celebrated on the 10th day. Dussehra is the symbol of victory of goodness over evil. It is believed that on this very day Lord Ram killed Ravana in the battle of Ramayana and freed Goddess Sita from his captivity. Some traditions also suggest that on this day Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahisasur to restore balance in the Universe. The spirit of this day reminds us of an inward journey to self and slay our very own demons that reside within us. The day inspires us to choose goodness over evil and always abide by the guidelines of Dharma. Navaratri is a nine-day festival dedicated to honouring the Divine feminine force. It is celebrated twice a year with huge passion and vigor. The Divine feminine is known as Shakti or dynamic energy which keeps the Cosmos in the state of motion. Without this energy, nothing would exist in this Universe and everything shall remain in a state of inertia. Goddess Parvati in Hindu culture is the embodiment of Adi Shakti and Navaratri is primarily dedicated to her nine different forms or manifestations. Goddess Parvati represents the state of dynamism or energy and is married to Lord Shiva who represents universal consciousness and stillness. Together they form the basis of every creation in the cosmos. During these nine auspicious days, we worship the different forms of Parvati, and each of these manifestations has a very significant message to share. Lets us now talk in detail about these nine different forms.

Shailaputri - In this form, the Goddess is worshipped as the daughter of the mighty Mountain. Goddess Parvati was born to the mountain king Himavat of the Himalayas and queen Menavati. This form represents her childhood and maidenhood. This form is worshipped on the 1st night of Navaratri.

Brahmacharini - In this form, the Goddess is portrayed as an ascetic and a student. Goddess Parvati was born on Earth with the purpose to unite with Shiva. She underwent a hard penance and severe austerities to please Lord Shiva. As a Brahmacharini she left the comfort of her royal life and lived in the forests practicing an ascetic life. We worship this form as Brahmacharini on the 2nd night of Navaratri.

Chandraghanta - Chandraghanta is the married form of Parvati. After marriage with Shiva, Parvati is shown adorning the half-moon on her forehead. This form is worshipped on the 3rd night of Navaratri.

Kushmanda - In this form the Goddess is known for her ability to reside inside the Sun. It is believed that for the sake of creation, Parvati decided to stay inside the Sun and become his source of energy. The Sun in return illuminated the world with his luminous energy which became the source of existence. The Goddess in this form is worshipped on the 4th night of Navaratri.

Skandmata - Goddess Parvati and Shiva were parents to Lord Kartikeya who was their warrior son and their firstborn. In this form, the goddess is worshipped as a fiercely protective mother who is always protecting her children. Lord Kartikeya is also known as Skanda and hence this form of the Goddess is known as Skandmata. This form is worshipped on the 5th night of Navaratri.

Katyayani - Goddess Parvati descended on Earth to kill a demon named Mahisasur. Mahisasur was a half buffalo and half-human demon who was blessed with a boon that no man could ever kill him. This made him extremely arrogant and cruel as he started misusing his powers. He had become invincible and tortured everyone. He was extremely disrespectful towards women as well and considered them meek and vulnerable. This is when Goddess Parvati decided to kill Mahisasur. This warrior form of Parvati is known as Katyayani and she is one of the most fierce forms of the Goddess. This form is worshipped on the 6th night of Navaratri.

Kalaratri - This is the form of Kali where the Goddess becomes her most fearful form. This form is full of anger and rage. The Goddess kills powerful demons like Shumbha and Nisumbha in this form. Kalaratri also means the night of death as everything in this cosmos is known to merge into her on this night. This is form is worshipped on the 7th night of Navaratri.

Mahagauri - This is a very peaceful form of the goddess. In this form, the Goddess is worshiped after her marriage with Shiva. She is known for her forgiving nature and her devotees seek forgiveness for their sins by worshipping her. This form is worshipped on the 8th night of the festival

Siddhidhatri - This is the 9th form of Goddess Durga. During the beginning of the creation, Lord Brahma worships the formless divine feminine and masculine for the sake of creation. This is when the goddess manifests into this form and emerges from the left half of Shiva, thus marking the onset of creation. This form is very powerful and known to bestow ultimate knowledge and Nirvana to her devotees. She bestows different Siddhis or supernatural abilities upon her devotees. She is worshipped on the 9th night of the festival.

Navaratri also embarks changes in the seasonal cycle of Earth. It indicates the change from autumn season into winter. Most of the devotees prefer to fast during this period for religious as well as health benefits. This period serves as a detox phase and prepares one's body for the harsh winters. People also tend to celebrate this festival by dancing because dance is a form and mediation and a very good exercise as well. Dance elevates one from negativity and brings us closer to the Divine. Finally, the festival brings us closer to the Ultimate reality and helps us adopt Godly ways and shell out the demons within.

Art Credit: Unknown

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