Enthusiastic people, tall pandals, and murtis all around are the essence of Durga Puja. Amidst celebration of victory over evil, people also tend to realise the importance of the supreme being that governs the chakra of everyone’s life.
Navratri marks the dawn of a new beginning that is filled with God’s blessings and divine care. With fervour at its peak, the Durgotsava is celebrated with immense passion and dedication by the devotees.
Each day begins with the worship of a different form of goddess Durga and likewise, the fourth day is dedicated to the deity Maa Kushmanda.
Maa Kushmanda is an avatar of Adi Shakti, who is also known as the Smiling Goddess or Devi Ashta Bhuja . The word Kushmanda is a combination of three words- ku which means little, Ushma which means warmth, and anda which means egg. In other words, the meaning of the goddesses’ name is- “the creator of the ‘little cosmic eggs” or the “creator of the universe”.
It is believed that when the universe did not have any trace, and darkness prevailed all over, Maa Kushmanda created the universe with her smile. Light filled up everywhere and the goddess then created the living beings. These were three supreme goddesses. With her left eye, she created Mahakali, from her center eye, Mahalakshmi was created, and from her right eye, a smiling form called Mahasaraswati was created.
From Mahakali’s body, Shiva and Saraswati took birth, and from Mahalakshmi’s body, Brahma and Lakshmi were born. Likewise, from the body of Mahasaraswati, Vishnu and Shakti were born. After this, Maa Kushmanda absorbed the three supreme goddesses and entered Shakti as an unending divine energy.
Thus, it is believed that Maa Kushmanda was the first being in the entire universe and that the supreme beings that she created went on to create other living entities.
Significance of Maa Kushmanda!
Maa Kushmanda is considered to be a form of Shakti, who was the first being in the whole universe. She is believed to give direction as well as energy to the Sun and change its position if it's unfavorable . Her ruling planet is again the Sun God.
Maa kushmanda possesses eight hands and holds a Kamandalu, a bow, an arrow, a pot of nectar, a lotus, a mace, a disc and a rosary. She rides a Lion which signifies fearlessness.
Praying to the goddess is said to bring prosperity, powers, pleasure and even moksha. Those who keep faith in the deity have all their problems, ailments and hurdles eradicated by her blessings.
Since, each of the forms of goddess Durga holds different powers and divine qualities, there is a specific set of rituals that needs to be performed to receive her grace .
Therefore, rituals of the day fourth begins with devotees getting ready early in the morning and cleansing themselves. After the bath, goddess Kushmanda is worshipped with full passion and devout devotion.
For Maa Kushmanda, red color flowers are brought. This is followed by doing Shodashopachara puja, which includes praying for family’s welfare. The puja reaches the end with arati.
It is believed that praying to Maa Kushmanda improves the relationship with the family members, elders and everybody whom one knows. It removes all the diseases and leads to good health.
The puja is associated with huge blessings received from the goddess where one’s social image also improves. The originator of the universe is said to give immense favor to those who pray to her with all their heart and soul.
Also, praying to her gives one freedom from all the entanglements of life that pulls one backwards and helps them move forward in life!
Devotees passionately make bhog for the deity to receive her kindness and blessings. Rice is offered to Maa Kushmanda along with milk. People make different kinds of sweets that invariably include malpua for the deity. This malpua is prepared for the goddess as it is believed that it will improve the mental ability of the devotee. It is also said to enhance the decision-making power of the person concerned.
Coconut, coconut water and its pulp is offered to the deity. Different kinds of sweets made up of jaggery, also form an important part of the bhog prepared for Ma Kushmanda.
After the bhog is offered to the goddess, it is then distributed among all those who come for the puja. This is a way of receiving the deity’s blessings and to share the happiness with near and dear ones.
Navratri is one of the liveliest festivals celebrated across India. Maa Kushmanda being worshipped on the fourth day instills a feeling of the ultimate authority that wants us to follow the righteous path. Her divine spark gives us a chance to introspect the true meaning of our lives and to seek goddesses’ blessings in each of our endeavours.
One gets to understand that the birth of the cosmos is nothing but a chance given to human beings to grow and spread the light of the god all over the place. It gives every human a chance to lead a blissful life, full of prosperity bestowed by Maa Kushmanda.