Sharada Navratri is a nine day/night period dedicated to the worship of the Universal Mother, Mata Durga. She is the embodiment and consolidated form of Mother Parvati, Lakshmi and Sarswati; and, as such, she is the invincible fortress that represents Shakti (power) and whose blessings are sought for the protection against negativity and evil.
Each night is dedicated to one form of her manifestations, as listed below.
1 Shailputri: Goddess Shailputri (Goddess of Nature) is depicted with a beautiful face, having a crescent moon on her forehead. She has two hands, in the left she carries a lotus and in the right one, a trident. She rides the Nandi bull. Shailputri means the ‘daughter of the mountain’. When the Goddess took birth as the daughter of the Himalaya, in the house of the king of mountains, she came to be known as Shailputri. She destroyed the demoness Tarika, and is worshiped for the realisation of the self within, on the first day of Navratri.
Mantra: Om Devi Shailaputryai Namah
2. Brahmacharini: Goddess Brahmacharini is depicted bare-footed and carrying Jaapmala in the right hand and a Kamandalu in the left. When the Goddess Durga took birth at the home of Daksh Prajapati, to marry Shiva, she was named Sati. Sati was also known as Brahmacharini before marriage. Goddess Brahmacharini is worshipped for ascetic qualities on the second day of Navratri.
Mantra: Himaachala sutaa naatha sanstute parameshwari
Roopam dehi jayam dehi yasho dehi dwisho jahi
Namo Devyai Mahaa-Devyai Shivaayai Satatam Namah
Namah Prakrtyai Bhadraayai Niyataah Pranataah Sma Taam
3. Chandraghanta: When Goddess Sati got married to Lord Shiva, she started wearing a half-moon-shaped tilak on her forehead. This tilak represented a bell, therefore the Goddess was known by the name Chandraghanta. Goddess Chandraghanta is depicted with ten hands. In four of her right hands she carries a lotus, a Dhanush, an arrow and ‘Jaapmala’. The fifth hand is in Abhay Mudra. Similarly, in four of her left hands she carries a Trident, a Gada, a sword and a Kamandalu, and the fifth one is in Varada Mudra. She rides a tigress, and is worshipped for peace and serenity on the third day of Navratri.
Mantra: Om Hreem Shri Chandraghanta Durgaaye Namaha
4. Kushmanda: Goddess Kushmanda rides a lioness, carrying a Kamandalu, a Dhanush, a Bada and a lotus in her right hands; and a pot filled with nectar, a ‘Sudarshan Chakra’, a ‘Gada’ and a ‘Jaapmala in the left hands. When she started living inside the Sun, she came to be known as the Goddess Kushmanda. She shines as the Sun, and is specifically known for her prowess. Goddess Kushmanda is worshipped for health, wealth and strength on the fourth day of Navratri.
Mantra: Om Devi Kushmandayai Namah
Surasampurna Kalasham Rudhiraplutameva Cha
Dadhana Hastapadmabhyam Kushmanda Shubhadastu Me
Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Maa Kushmanda Rupena Samsthita
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah
5. Skandmata: Kartikeya, is the lord of war, also known as Skanda. He is the son of this Goddess of Fire, and because of this fact, she came to be known as Skandmata. Goddess Skandamata is depicted sitting on a lotus, because of which she is also known as Padmasana. She is shown with four hands. In two of those she carries lotus flowers, in the second left hand she carries baby Skanda, and the second right hand is in Abhaymudra. She rides a lion and is worshipped for wisdom and purity of the heart on the fifth day of Navaratri.
Mantra: Om hreem saha skandmatriya namah
6. Katyayani: Goddess Katyayani is depicted sitting on a lion, and while her right hands are in Abhay Mudra and Varada Mudra, the left hands carry a lotus and a sword. She was born to attack Mahishasura, and came to be known as Katyayani. She is worshipped for the desire of a righteous partner for marriage on the sixth day.
Mantra: Katyayani Mahamaye Mahayoginyadheeshwari
Nandgopsutam Devipatim Me Kuru te Namah
7. Kalratri: When the Goddess of Fierceness manifested to destroy the demons Shumbh and Nihumbh, she was known by the name Kalratri. As the name suggests, she is depicted in a very ferocious form. Seated on a donkey, she carries a sword and an iron hook in her left hands, whereas the right hands are in Abhay Mudra and Varada Mudra. This form of the Goddess is worshiped for the removal of ignorance and darkness on the seventh day.
Mantra: Om Bhurbhuva svah kalaraatri iha gaccha ihatisha
kalaratryai namah kalaratrimavahayami sthapayami
namah padhyadibhih pujanaambidhaaya
Meaning: I see the awesome form of Mother Kaalratri combining in her the gross, subtle and causal bodies. I invoke the presence of the divine mother who is called by the name of the dark night. Please be propitiated with my offerings and bless me with your bounteous grace.
Om chandaviram chandamaayam
tam namaami cha devesim gayatrim pujayaamyaham
Meaning: Om, You are the greatest conqueror of anger and illusion. You remove my anger from the roots and limit my ego. I bow down to you, the destroyer of the demon Raktabija, and worship you as Gayatri, the goddess of the three forms of wisdom, so that you award your divine protection to me.