Nauratha or Navaratri/Nawaratri is the nine holy days or nine holy nights to be more precise that precedes Dashami, the tenth day of Dashain, dedicated to Goddess Durga to venerate Nawa Durga, Her nine manifested forms, respectively for each night during Dashain Festival. They in order are Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhadhatri.
During Nauratha, people, especially from Terai, Southern Nepal, solemnly fast for nine days straight. The only eat fruits and milk.
People visit various Shakti Peethas, the divine shrines of Goddess Durga, during Nauratha. Each day is dedicated to nine different forms of the goddess, however, Nepal does not have the Shakti Peethas for all the aforementioned manifestation of Durga. On the eighth and ninth day, animals sacrifices are made at Her temples.
Unlike other parts of Nepal, huge tents are erected in every locality of Terai that houses big mud Durga idols either sitting on a tiger or killing buffalo head demon Mahesasura. These make-shift temples are major crowd pullers during all 9 nights of Nauratha. Then on the tenth day, amidst beating of drums and chanting of hymns, the idols are immersed in nearby rivers bidding her goodbye until next year.
Also the temples there are decorated with colourful festoons and lights.
Below are the descriptions of Nine manifestations of Durga in order of celebration during each day of Nauratha starting on the first day called Ghatasthapana along with Mantra, the sacred verses to please the goddesses.
The first day of the Nauratha of Dashain, Pratipada, begins with Shailaputri puja. ‘Shaila’ meaning mountain and ‘Putri’ meaning daughter, i.e Shailapurti was born to King Himalaya and Queen Menaka with the message/knowledge that the well-being of all is for the good of all and declared all the Himalayas are a sacred place on Earth.
She holds trident and lotus on either hand and mounts a bull.
ॐ देवी शैलपुत्र्यै नमः॥वंदे वाद्द्रिछतलाभाय चंद्रार्धकृतशेखराम | वृषारूढां शूलधरां शैलपुत्री यशस्विनीम् ||
Om Devi Shailaputrai Namha: ||
Wandey Waaddrichhtlavaya Chandraaghritashekharam |
Wrisharudham Shuldharaam Shailaputri Yashswiniim ||
Goddess Brahamacharini is worshipped on Dwitiya, the second day of Nauratha.
Mother Nature created cool gentle air and water at the birth of Parbati. In such a pristine environment, Parbati resolved to marry Mahadev and became Brahamacharini, a celibate. She pursued the sacred religious knowledge, meditated for five thousand years and fasted. After going through these penances Parbati won heart of Mahadev and married him.
Parbati as Brahmacharini succeeded in showing humans that with great penances one can fulfil his resolution.
She holds a Rudraksha mala (prayer beads) and kamandalu (water vessel) on her either hand and walks bare feet.
दधाना करपद्माभ्यामक्षमालाकमण्डलू। देवी प्रसीदतु मयि ब्रह्मचारिण्यनुत्तमा॥
Dadhaanaa Karapadmaavyamkshaamalakamandalu |
Devi Prashidatu Mayii Brahacharinyanuttamaa ||
Goddess Chandraghanta is worshipped on Tritiya, the third day of Nauratha. Chandraghanta means “one who has a half-moon shaped like a bell”
At Shiva-Parbati marriage ceremony, Narayan thought of mischief and sent off his stride garuda (a Mythical bird) to scare off snakes that Shiva wore as a necklace. Parbati’s mother Menaka and her guests were aghast upon seeing ash-smeared bare-body of Shiva as snakes dispersed off him. Parbati, then taking the form of Chandraghanta gestured Shiva that they both appear as RajRajeshwar and Rajrajeshwari to calm down the situation and they did.
She mounts a tiger, wears a half-moon on her head, her eight hands hold Trishul (Trident), Padma (Lotus), Gada (MAce), Kamandalo (Water Vessel), Sword, Bow, Arrow, and Japa Mala (Rosary) and remaining two hands are held in Abhayamudra and Gyanamudra for blessings.
पिण्डजप्रवरारुढा चण्डकोपास्त्रकैर्युता। प्रसादं तनुते मह्यं चन्द्रघण्टेति विश्रुता॥
Pindajprawaraarudhaa Chandakopaastrakairyutaa |
Prasaadam Tanutey Mahyam Chandraghanteti Wishrutaa ||
Goddess Kushmanda is worshipped on Chaturthi, the fourth day of Nauratha. Kushmanda means “little cosmic egg”. It is believed that She recreated the Universe and eliminated its darkness with her smile. She filled it up with Earth, Planets, Stars, Galaxies and became energy source for the Sun.
After Shiva-Parbati’s marriage, Queen mother Menaka, still in awe of her daughter Parbati’s Rajrajeshwari avatar, invited her back home and she with Kanya, the prepubescent girl child worshipped Goddess Durga. Parbati appeared as Kushamanda and blessed her mother with good fortune for her religiosity.
Therefore, whoever worships Kushmanda is blessed with good health and immense wealth.
This eight-handed Goddess holds Padma (Lotus), Chakra (Discs), Kamandalu (Water Vessel), Dhanush (Bow), Baan (Arrow), Gada (Mace), Akshamala (Rosary), and Jar of holy Elixir on her hands and mounts her stride tiger.
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु माँ कूष्माण्डा रूपेण संस्थिता।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥
Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Maa Kushmanda Rupena Samstita।
Namastasyay Namastasyay Namastasyay Namo Namah॥
Goddess Skandamata is worshipped on Pachami, the fifth day of Nauratha.
She is here, Mata, the mother of Skanda, the warrior God also known as Kumar or Kartike.
Parbati gave birth to Skanda to save Gods from Tarkasura the most powerful demon who had ousted all the Gods from their abodes. Skanda led the divine forces of the gods, killed Tarkasura and reseated gods into their heavenly abodes.
He who worships the mother of Skanda is awarded with oceans of wisdom, strength, power, prosperity and salvation.
The four-handed Skandamata holds her son Skanda sitting on her lap with two hands, the third hand has lotus and the fourth one is giving blessings to all. She is either seen sitting on a lion or calmly on a lotus.
सिंहासनगता नित्यं पद्माश्रितकरद्वया। शुभदास्तु सदा देवी स्कन्दमाता यशस्विनी॥
Shimhaasangataa Nityam Padmaashritakaradwayaa | Shubhadaastu Sadaa Devi Skandamaataa Yashswini ||
Goddess Katyayani is worshipped on Shasthi, the sixth day of Nauratha.
She is a warrior avatar of Durga who slew demon Mahesasura. She is also believed to be born as a daughter of Sage Katyayana, hence called Katyayani.
To kill the troublemaker buffalo head demon Maheshasura, at Lord Bishnu’s behest, the trinity, Brahma, Bishnu Maheshwar, together emitted combined energy that took the form of Katyayani. She used the powerful weapons from all Gods to slay Maheshasura in a fierce battle at Vindhya Mountains, for that she is also worshipped as Mahesahsuramardini.
On two hands she holds Khadga (Long Sword), Padma (Lotus) while the other two hands are holding mudras of blessing and protection and mounts a lion.
चंद्रहासोज्जवलकरा शार्दूलवरवाहना। कात्यायनी शुभं दध्यादेवी दानवघातिनि।।
Chandra haasojjwalakaraa Shaardulawarawaahaanaa |
Kaatyaayanii Shubhamddhaadevi Daanwaghitini |
Goddess Kalaratri is worshipped on Saptami, the seventh day of Nauratha.
Like Katyayani, Kalaratri is also a Warrior Avatar of Goddess Durga. According to Skanda Purana, Durga removed her golden skin to embrace dark complexion as black to get rid of great evil. People also refer to her as Kali, Mahakali or Raudri.
Two demonic brothers Shumbha and Nishumbha subject themselves to severe penance and purification rituals for ten thousand years at Pushkar, a sacred place in India so that no man or demon could destroy them. Pleased Lord Brahma granted them the boon they requested for.
The brothers in process of conquering the universe encounter Parbati. Shumbha enamoured by Parbati’s beauty wants to court Her but she rejects the advances. Parbati in Kalaratri form kills both brothers with her trident, after killing their troops they sent out to abduct the Goddess.
She holds Trident and Vajra on two of her four hands and mounts a donkey.
एकवेणी जपाकर्णपूरा नग्ना खरास्थिता लंंबोष्टी कर्णिकाकर्णी तैलाभ्यक्तशरीरिणी।वामपादोल्लसल्लोहलताकंठकभूषणा वर्धनमूर्धध्वजा कृष्णा कालरात्रिर्भयंकरी।।
Ekwenii Japaakarnapuraa Nagnaa Kharaasthitaa Lamboshtii Karnaakaakarni Tailaabhyaktashaririini |
Baamapaadollasallohalataakanthabhushanaa Wardhanmurdhwajaa Krishnaa Kaalaraatribhayankarii ||
Goddess Mahagauri is worshipped on Ashtami, the eight day of Nauratha.
Maha meaning extreme and Gauri meaning White, i.e Mahagauri has extremely fair complexion. Parbati as Katyayani was teased for her black complexion, so she prayed Lord Brahma to get rid of it. Brahma advised Her to bathe in Manasarovara River that originates at holy Mount Kailash. Doing so, Manasarovara washed skin’s darkness giving her fair complexion back, hereforth she was called Mahagauri.
The Goddess’ three hands hold a Trishul (Trident), Padma (Lotus), and Damaru (Tamborine) and the fourth is in a blessing gesture. She mounts a bull.
According to some legend, when Shiva also known as Pashupati (Lord of animals) with an intention to protect his animals went to Mrigasthali disguised as deer, Parbati in Mahagauri form meditated at Gaurighat, the bank of Bagmati River.
He who worships Mahagauri gets relief from all the sufferings in life because She has a power to fulfill devotees every desire.
श्वेते वृषे समारुढा श्वेताम्बरधरा शुचिः। महागौरी शुभं दघान्महादेवप्रमोददा॥
Swetey Brishe Samarudhaa Shuchi: |
Mahagauri Shubham Daghanmahaadevapramoddaa ||
Goddess Siddhadatri is worshipped on Nawami, the ninth or last day of Nauratha.
Siddhi meaning supernatural power or meditative ability, and Dhatri meaning giver. She is the awardress of siddhi to all. According to the vedic scripture, even Lord Shiva attained his Siddhas, all the cosmic power by worshiping to Siddhadhatri.
When Universe was still void, a ray of divine light taking the form of Goddess Mahashakti illuminated all Universe. Mahashakti then created Trimurti, the triple deity; Brahma, Bishnu and Maheswar and designated them roles of creating, preserving and destroying respectively. She blessed the Trimurti in the form of Siddhadhatri.
Siddhadhatri has four hands holding Sankh (Conch Shell), Chakra (Discus), Gada (Mace) and Padma (Lotus), and she mounts a lion.
He who prays to Devi Siddhidaatri, sitting on a lotus, he is bestowed with all type of siddhis because she fulfills every divine aspirations and completes any mundane.
सिद्धगन्धर्वयक्षाघैरसुरैरमरैरपि। सेव्यमाना सदा भूयात् सिद्धिदा सिद्धिदायिनी॥
Sewyamaanaa Sadaa Bhuuyaat Siddhidaa Siddhidaayinii ||