The zeal and enthusiasm that everyone possesses to celebrate the advent of Navratri is unexplainable. With merriment all around, and passion in everyone’s heart, this sacred festival marks a new beginning and thus, provides navjeevan to all those who seek the goddess with all their might.
All through the nine days, people pray and worship the source of all energy, goddess Durga. The victory of good over evil, which is the essence of the festival remains etched in the minds of the devotees who themselves ponder over their life so as to follow the right path,as shown by the deity.
So, the fifth day of Navratri begins with the worship of one of the nine forms of Maa Durga, who is Maa Skandmata, believed to be another form of Maa Parvati.
Maa Skandamata’s name precisely comes from two words- Skanda which is another name of Lord Kartikey, and Mata which means Mother and hence, she’s said to be the Mother of Lord Kartikey.
So, the mythology says that there was once a demon called Tarkasur who tried convincing Lord Brahma to bless him with immortality. But lord didn’t approve it.
However, the demon tacitly asked for a boon where only Lord shiva’s offspring would be able to kill him. He thought that since, Lord Shiva had become ascetic after Sati’s death, he would not marry again.
Once, the wish was granted, Tarkasur began huge destruction on earth, hurting people and creating a huge havoc. So , fearing that he might misuse his powers more, Rishi Narada approached Parvati, telling her that if she observes a severe penance, Lord Shiva will become her consort, who was also her husband in the previous birth.
Amazed by her penance, Lord Shiva married her and they had an offspring, named Kartikey or Skand Kumar. This child of theirs brought an end to the hideous Tarkasura , while being in command of the whole of the war of gods against the demon.
Significance of Maa Skandmata!
This form of the goddess is often depicted as having four arms, with Kartikey being held in the left hand and lotus in the right . She's also called Padmasani as she can be often seen sitting on the lotus flower . The deity has three eyes and a very bright complexion. The left arm of the goddess remains in the position of granting boons to all her devotees.
According to popular faith, people believe that Maa Skandmata gives her devotees salvation, prosperity and blessed treasures. Interestingly, when one worships the goddess, they worship Lord Kartikey too, who sits on her lap. As a result, both of them are worshipped simultaneously and thus, double grace is showered on the people.
It is said that those who seek Maa Skandmata with all their hearts, without any selfishness in them, the goddess is appeased and hence, blesses them like a true mother with immense prosperity and welfare.
She is said to be the ruler of planet Mercury. The ever compassionate deity removes all afflictions of her devotees, caused by the planet Mars. She is also worshipped as Mata Gauri, Maheshwari or Parvati.
The Skandmata puja removes all ill-will from the souls of the devotees and leads to the purification of their hearts. It is done in order to move forward successfully in life with immense blessings from the almighty.
The puja begins with people getting up early and cleansing themselves before going in front of the deity. After bathing, new clothes are worn and a pan made out of clay is used for the puja ceremony.
Before starting the prayer, the picture of the goddess is placed on a table, along with the images of Lord Varun, Lord Ganesha, all the navagraha and rest gods and goddesses.
Three layers of mud with grain seeds are used for the puja, on which water is sprinkled. The pot is then filled with the holy gangajal and five leaves of the mango tree, covered over with coconut. Maa Skandmata is offered yellow flowers too, which are said to be her favorites’.
The devotees pray earnestly to Maa Skandmata and her son to receive divine blessings from both. Shodashopachara is offered to them and puja comes to a closure with arati.
Throughout Navratri season, devotees keep a rigorous fast, worshipping the might of Maa Durga and celebrating the festival with full enthusiasm by dedicating bhog to the goddess and distributing the same among near and dear ones.
On Panchami, Maa Skandmata arrives at everyone’s abode and hence, to appease her, devotees make bhog which constitute different dishes. It is believed that the deity should be offered bananas or any other fruits as bhog. Several other dishes also constitute a major part of the prasad that is prepared very carefully so as to keep them holy for the deity.
All through the year, mankind remains busy with their material life and well being. But the coming of Navratri brings in a new light that gives them all a chance to look away from worldly pleasures and search for the supreme being.
The fifth day, thus, gives us a wonderful opportunity to seek Maa Skandmata’s blessings who is the giver of great wisdom and brilliance. However, Durgotsava should not be always ‘wanting something from God’, rather it should also include ‘the quest of knowing whether we ourselves are worthy of receiving divine blessings from the almighty or not’.
Once we pay attention to this aspect of grand Navratri, surely Maa Durga is going to bless our lives and show us the true, righteous path that will ultimately lead to her divine abode!