The most important navratri of the year is the Shardiya Navratra .The nine day of navratri is dedicated to the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga.
Navratri symbolically represents the victory of good over evil – Goddess Durga slaying Demon Mahishasura and Lord Rama killing Ravana. The same struggle is constantly taking place in human hearts and the nine-day Navratri Vrat gradually prepares a devotee to merge with the Brahmand (universe).
Like Mahishasura, the human mind armed with ego, anger, greed, lust and envy negate the supreme force. The nine-day Navratri vrat slowly annihilates the Mahishasura in us and help us to realize us that we are part of Brahmand – the supreme spirit present in all animate and inanimate.
The nine days have 9 avaatars of Durga along with 9 different colors.
Pratipada /Ghatasthapana – YELLOW
The first day is the day of Shailaputri Devi. Shailaputri literally means the daughter (putri) of the mountains (shaila). Her worship takes place on the first day of Navaratri – 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. The color to wear on the first day is Yellow.
Dwitya – GREEN
The second day is the day of Bharmachirini. She is the second form of Mother Goddess. Bharmacharini means one who practices devout austerity. She enlightens us in the magnificent embodiment of Durga with great powers and divine grace. The color to wear on the second day is Green.
Tritya – GREY
The third facet of Goddess Durga is ‘Chandraghanta’, who is worshipped on the third day of Navaratri, for peace, tranquility and prosperity in life. She has a ‘chandra’ or half moon in her forehead in the shape of a ‘ghanta’ or bell. That is why she is called ‘Chandraghanta’. She is the apostle of bravery and possesses great strength to fight in the battle against demons. The color to wear on the third day is Grey.
Chaturthi – ORANGE
Kushmanda is the fourth form of the mother goddess and is worshipped on the fourth day of Navaratri. The meaning of the name ‘Ku-shm-anda’ is as follows: ‘Ku’ = a little; ‘ushma’ = ‘warmth’; ‘anda’ = ‘the cosmic egg’. So she is considered the creator of the universe. Often she is depicted as having eight or ten hands. She holds weapons, glitter, rosary, etc., in her hands, and she rides a lion. The color to wear on the fourth day is Orange.
Panchmi – WHITE
The fifth aspect of the Mother Durga is known as ‘Skanda Mata’ – the mother of Skanda or Lord Kartikeya, who was chosen by gods as their commander in chief in the war against the demons. She is worshipped on the fifth day of Navaratri. She is accompanied by the Lord Skanda in his infant form. The color to wear on the fifth day is Orange.
Shashti – RED
The sixth form of Mother Durga is known as ‘Katyayani‘, who is worshipped on the six day of Navaratri. The legend behind her name goes thus: Once upon a time, there was a great sage called Kata, who had a son named Katya. Kata was very famous and renowned in the lineage of saints. He underwent long austerities and penance in order to receive the grace of the Mother Goddess. He wished to have a daughter in the form of a goddess. According to his wish and desire the Mother Goddess granted his request. Katyayani was born to Kata as an avatar of Durga. The color to wear on the sixth day is Red.
Saptami – BLUE
This is the seventh form of Mother Durga and is worshipped on the seventh day of Navaratri. She has a dark complexion, disheveled hair and a fearlessness posture. She is black like Goddess Kali and holds a sparkling sword in her right hand battle all evil. The color to wear on the seventh day is Blue.
Ashtami – PINK
Maha Gauri is the eight form of Durga Maa. Maha Gauri is intelligent, peaceful and calm. It is said that due to her long austerities in the deep forests of the Himalayas her color transformed from white to black. However, later 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. The color to wear on the seventh day is Blue.
Navmi/Dashmi – PURPLE
Siddhidatri is the ninth form of Goddess Durga. She is worshipped on the ninth day of Navaratri. Siddhidatri has supernatural healing powers. She has four arms and she is always in a blissful happy enchanting pose. She rides on the lion as her vehicle. She blesses all Gods, saints, yogis, tantrics and all devotees as a manifestation of the Mother Goddess. The color to wear on the seventh day is Purple.
Navratri is celebrated with the famous Garba and Dandiya-Raas dance .Dandia were earlier only performed in Gujarat, but have now become very popular across the country. Navratri not only symbolises the victory of good over evil (Goddess Durga’s victory over Mahishasur) but also celebrates the spirit of Indian culture in its togetherness. Devotees, not only celebrate the festival by offering prayers to the Goddess but also wear traditional and colourful dresses, sing folk song and indulge in other fun activities like- playing Garba and Dandiya.
Despite things changing and turning the commercial way, it is a beautiful feeling to go with your family and attend the colourful and vibrant Garba nights during the Navratri festival.
While in Bengal it is celebrated as a community festival and huge idols of the goddess killing Mahishasur are installed. In South India, people prepare elaborate golus, which are steps with small idols placed on them.
Here’s wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous Navratri!