Today is Mahaashtami, that is the eighth day of Navaratri. The Navaratri that is celebrated in month of September - October is also called Sarad Navaratri. Navaratri starts with new moon.
Nava means nine and it also means new.The nine nights that create a newness within you is called Navaratri. Creation happens in darkness, under the soil or inside the Mother's womb. Night provides rejuvenation and rest. People come home from work, celebrate, rejoice and pray. The nine nights of Navaratri are precious and are enriched with subtle energy.
Our ancestors had honored women with three precious portfolio's of wealth, wisdom and power. In form of Durga they honored power, in form of Lakshmi they honored wealth and in form of Saraswati they honored wisdom. In Navaratri we celebrate the three form of Shakti. These are the major forms of Shakti. With the broader distinction, the Navaratri also celebrates the Nine forms of Goddess Durga. This is also called as Navadurga's.
1- Shailaputri - The daughter of Himavan the mountain King. She is worshiped on the first night of Navaratri.
2- Bhramacharini - This is the form of Maa when she had not got married. She had done great austerity to get Shiva. She had form of Devi Yogini or Devi Tapaswini. She is the means to get enlightenment.
3- Chandraghanta - This is the form of Maa who wears a half moon or semi circular moon on her head in the form of bell. She is worshiped to get peace, tranquility and prosperity in life. She is the apostle of bravery.
4- Kushumanda - She derives her name from Ku - meaning little , ushum - meaning warmth and anda - meaning cosmic egg. She is the creator of universe.
5- Skanda Mata - The mother of Skanda or Kartikeya. She was chosen by gods as the commander on chief against demons. She holds Skanda in one hand and rides a lion.
6- Katayini - She is the daughter of Kata one sage who performed great austerity to have Durga Maa as his daughter.
7- Kaalratri - She is dark complexion and is ferocious. Her gesture to protection assures us freedom from all evils. She is also called Subhankari or one who does good.
8- Maha Gauri - She is worshiped on eighth day. As a result of her worship, one gets liberated from sins of past, present and future. Devotees get purified in all aspects of life. Maha Gauri is intelligent, peaceful and calm. Because of great austerities in deep forests of Himalaya, she had developed a dark complexion. When Lord Shiva washed her, she regained her own beauty. She is very fair and wears white clothes.She rides a bull and is 16 yr old unmarried Parvati.
9- Siddhihartri - She is worshiped on the ninth day of Navaratri, she has supernatural power of healing.She blesses all her devotees, gods, tantrics etc. She was worshiped by Lord Shiva to attain the form of Lord Ardhanariswara.
During Navaratri Goddess Durga is also worshipped in the Mahavidya forms. The 10 Mahavidya's are the various wisdom goddess forms of Goddess Kali. The temples in eastern India, decorate Mother Goddess in these forms during Navaratri. These Mahavidya forms of Maa are listed below,
1- Kali - The ultimate form of Bhramha, The devoured of time.
2- Tara - She is the protector and offers ultimate knowledge.
3- Lalita - Tripurasundari - The Goddess who is the most beautiful in all three worlds. She is the tantric Parvati.
4- Bhuvaneswari - The Mother whose body is the cosmos.
5- Bhairavi - The fierce goddess.
6 - Chinnamasta - The self-decapitated goddess.
7- Dhumavati - The widow goddess or the goddess of death.
8- Bagalamukhi - The goddess who paralyzes the enemy.
9- Matangi - The goddess of wisdom or the tantric Saraswati.
10- Kamala - The lotus goddess of wealth, or the tantric Lakshmi.
The slaying of Mahishasura the buffalo demon by the Mother Divine, symbolizes the victory of Wisdom over the hard lethargic muddy dark tendencies of the consciousness. After the nine nights of Navaratri, the tenth day is called Vijayadashami - the day of victory. Victory of Light over Darkness, of Knowledge over ignorance.Laugh, Sing, Dance and Meditate through this very special time of the year. Do a bit of fasting and then a lot of feasting. Emerge out of the cocoon of the night like the radiant sun creating a bright new day, a brilliant new life.
In eastern part of India, the Goddess in form of Mahisasura Mardini is worshiped in Pandals and in Gujurat and Andhra Pradesh, she is worshiped in form of Maa Ambika. May Maa Durga bless you all with intelligence, health and prosperity.