Every year between late September and October during the autumn season, the major Hindu festivities began with the onset of Sharadiya Navaratri or Sharad Navaratri. The term Sharad here refers to Sharad Ritu ( Autumn season ) and also to Devi Sharada ( Maa Saraswati ), the goddess of wisdom and knowledge.
Navaratri means nine nights. Every month after Amavasya ( the new moon day ), the first 9 days are dedicated to feminine energy. Out of 27 days of the moon cycle, the remaining 18 days are considered to be masculine. The rest of 1 and a half-day is considered neutral. This is the reason that up to Navami (the ninth day ), Devi worshiping is predominant.
This Navaratri which ends with the Dussehra is considered most important as it is dedicated to Devi Sharada. The basic nature that separates humans from all living species is the learning tendency in us. No other creature on this planet has the power of willingness to learn. So this is that time of the year when we humans celebrate the most important thing in our life which is ‘learning’.
Also, Navaratri is the celebration of the victory of Good over Evil. Goddess Durga defeated the demon Mahishasura. All nine days are wholly devoted to nine incarnations of Durga listed below:
1. Shailaputri ( The daughter of the Himalayas )
The first day is dedicated to Devi Shailaputri who is an incarnation of Devi Parvati. Also known as Hemavati. She rides on Nandi ( Shiva’s bull ) and carries Trishul in her right hand and a lotus in the left. She also has a crescent moon on her head like Shiva. The color of the day is Red which symbolizes action and vigor.
ॐ देवी शैलपुत्र्यै नमः॥
Om Devi Shailaputryai Nama //
2. Brahmacharini ( Brahmacharya Behaviour )
The second day is dedicated to Devi Brahamcharini, the sati form of Parvati. She wears a white Saree and walks barefoot. She carries a Japamala ( rosary ) and Kamandala symbolizing peace and calming nature. The color of the day is Blue which symbolizes tranquillity.
ॐ देवी ब्रह्मचारिण्यै नम:
Om Devi Brahmachranyaya Namah //
3. Chandraghanta ( The Goddess with Half Bell Shaped Moon )
The third day is dedicated to Devi Chandraghanta, the goddess with a half-moon on her forehead. She has a third eye which unlike Shiva is always open. The goddess is a symbol of courage and bravery. The color of the day is Yellow which is a mood lifter for everyone.
ॐ देवी चंद्रघण्टायै नम:
Oṃ Devī Chandraghantaye Namaḥ//
4. Kushmanda ( creator of Cosic World )
The fourth day is dedicated to Devi Kushmanda, the goddess who created the world with her smile. Ku means “a little”, Ushma means “the warmth” and Anda means “the cosmic egg”. The goddess has eight arms and is also known as Ashtabhuja Devi. She is the symbol of creation on earth. The color of the day is Green which is the color of vegetation on earth.
ॐ देवी कूष्मांडायै नम:
Om Devi Kushmandaye Namah //
The fourth day is dedicated to Devi Skandamata, the mother of Skand which is another name for Lord Kartikeya. The goddess has four arms with lotuses in two. She is carrying Skand in her lap while sitting on a lion. She depicts the mother nature of a woman. The color of the day is Grey.
ॐ देवी स्कन्दमातायै नम:
Om Devi Skandmataye Namah //
The sixth day is dedicated to Devi Katyayani, the goddess who slaved Mahishasura. One of the most fierce forms of Durga. The goddess rides a lion and is shown with four, ten, or eighteen hands. She is a symbol of courage. The color of the day is Red.
ॐ देवी कात्यायन्यै नम:
Om Devi Katyayanya Namah //
The seventh day is dedicated to Devi Kaalratri, the goddess who killed demons Shumbh and Nishumbh. One of the most violent forms of Durga. She is the destroyer of all evil spirits and negative energies. All the negative forms move away. The color of the day is White.
ॐ देवी कालरात्र्यै नम:
Om Devi Kalratraya Namah //
The eight-day is dedicated to Devi Mahagauri, the goddess of optimism. She is a reliever of all sufferings of mankind. The goddess has four arms. The color of the day is Pink.
ॐ देवी महागौर्यै नमः
Om Devi Mahagaurya Namah //
The ninth day is dedicated to Devi Siddhidatri, the goddess who fulfills all divine aspirations. She sits on a lotus and is the possessor of all Siddhis.
ॐ देवी सिद्धिदात्र्यै नम:
Om Devi Siddhidatraye Namah //