‘It is in the form of the nava shaktis that Durga or Adi Shakti lives inside everyone.’
Let’s celebrate the beginning of Navratri with this lovely excerpt from Nava Durga: The Nine Forms Of The Goddess by Nalini Ramachandran.
Durga, as this powerful warrior-goddess is known,
Has nine special forms-each one unique, not just a clone.
Shailaputri, Brahmacharini and Chandraghanta,
Kushmanda and Skandamata,
Katyayani and Kaalratri,
Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri...
They are the Nava Durga,
Worshipped during Navaratri.
Nava Durga: The Nine Goddesses
Goddess Durga has many, many forms. Nine of these are together known as Nava Durga. In Sanskrit, nava means ‘nine’, so Nava Durga means ‘nine forms of Durga’.
Each of these nine forms stands for one shakti or powerful quality of the goddess.
It is in the form of these shaktis that Durga or Adi Shakti lives inside everyone.
So, who are the Nava Durga?
The princess who set out on an adventure, keeping aside her fears.
The young lady who meditated for many, many years.
The angry bride who wore a deadly bell.
The happy one, whose smile became her jewel.
The brave mother of a heroic son.
The slayer of a difficult demon.
The feisty fighter who gave asuras a fright.
The peace-loving goddess, who’s compared to all things white.
The keeper of powers that are . . . Shh . . . A secret, aha!
And with that, you now know the great and glorious Nava Durga!
Special Foods for the Goddesses
Navaratri is a time to make the stomach as happy as the heart.
People offer tasty treats to the goddess as naivedyam or prasad.
Usually, these are cooked using different kinds of grains and pulses.
Like there are different Navaratri celebrations, the foods offered to the goddess in these nine days too vary.
Here are a few special foods served to the Nava Durga:
Navaratri, Day 1: Shailaputri
Ghee, venn pongal (made with rice and pulses), rajgira ka laddoo (a sweet made with amaranth grain), sabudana khichdi (made with sago), roath.
Navaratri, Day 2: Brahmacharini
Sugar, fruits, singhare ke atte ka halwa (sweet dish made with ground water chestnut), rava kesari (sweet made with semolina and saffron).
Navaratri, Day 3: Chandraghanta
Milk, milk-based sweets such as makhana kheer (fox nut pudding), paruppu vadai (spicy, deep-fried fritters).
Navaratri, Day 4: Kushmanda
Sweet pancakes such as malpua (made with rice flour or buckwheat) and appam (made with wheat).
Navaratri, Day 5: Skandamata
Banana; items made of raw banana such as chips, curry and barfi (a sweetmeat); pulihora (tamarind rice).
Navaratri, Day 6: Katyayani
Honey, items made with poha (flattened rice), coconut rice.
Navaratri, Day 7: Kaalratri
Jaggery, ksheerannam (jaggery-based rice pudding), idli (made with raw rice).
Navaratri, Day 8: Maha Gauri
Coconut, sweets made with coconut such as barfi, paal saadam (milk rice).
Navaratri, Day 9: Siddhidatri
Til (sesame seeds), sakkarai pongal (jaggery-based dish made with rice and pulses), halwa, puri, chana or chhole (especially for Kanya Pooja).
Fruits, nuts, sweets such as mishti doi (fermented sweet curd with jaggery), garelu (deep-fried fritters, also known as medu vada) and puran poli (sweet flatbread stuffed with lentil and jaggery).
Excerpted from Nava Durga: The Nine Forms Of The Goddess by Nalini Ramachandran, with the kind permission of the publishers, Penguin Random House India.