With everybody brimming with joy, Navratri is speeding up the enthusiasm level amongst the people. One of the most revered festivals in India, it is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the devotees.
Celebrating the victory of good over evil, the Durgotsava brings in a new outlook towards life, where seeking God is considered necessary and highly valuable. Although, it is a religious celebration to honour Maa Durga, the secular and social elements preached by the festival cannot be overlooked.
With every new day, a new form of the goddess is worshipped and thus, consequently, the sixth day begins with the worship of Maa Katyayani!
As per mythology, there was once a sage called “Kat”, who had a son, known as “Katya”. As their lineage moved further, there took birth another sage as their descendant, named “Katyayan”.
Unfortunately, he did not have any child. So, he observed severe penance and prayed to gods to bless him with a child. On the flip side of the story, around the same time, the demon Mahishasura was misusing his powers to the fullest, creating havoc and destruction everywhere.
The Gods then, approached Lord Vishnu to help them out in this trouble which was increasing day by day. Thus, on Lord Vishnu’s edict, Shiva and Brahma joined him and became trinity. As trinity, they emitted light which took the form of Katyayni and she was born as a child to the lamenting sage, Katyayan.
Armed with the deadliest weapons, Katyayni proceeded towards Mysore Hills. Once the demon saw her, he was bewitched by her beauty and thus, asked her to be his wife.
Katyayani challenged him to a battle, saying that only if he wins, she’d get married to him. Thus, a fierce battle ensued between the two, which ended with her cutting Mahishasura’s head. Since that day, she is called as Mahishasuramardhini”, one who slayed Mahishasura.
Significance of Maa Katyayani!
Maa katyayani was born to end the sufferings of all by killing the hideous demon. She was born as a fighter. Her resplendent form comprises three eyes, eighteen hands,with herself riding on a Lion. The goddess holds a trident, Sudarshana Chakra, a conch shell, a dart, a bow, a quiver, a thunderbolt, and a mace among other weapons.
The deity rules over the planet Jupiter. This brings huge prosperity, benefits and success . The deity also removes all kinds of afflictions that are there in the lives of her devotees.
Bhagavad Purana mentions that those girls who attained the age of marriage in Gokula, had the tradition of observing fast and worshipping goddess Katyayani to get Lord Krishna as their husband. Since then, the custom began, where girls started keeping fast to get worthy husbands. Worshipping her is believed to remove Manglik Dosh in people.
Interestingly, Devi Kanyakumari is said to be an incarnation of Maa Katyayani and is worshipped during the harvest festival of Pongal, celebrated in Tamil Nadu!
Any festival is not complete until we seek blessings from the almighty. Consequently, the sixth day of Durga Puja is celebrated by offering prayers to Maa Katyayani.
Red roses are brought for the deity as it is said to be her favorite flowers. This is considered extremely auspicious for the day. The puja starts with Ganesh Prarthna, which is done with immense passion and dedication by the devotees.
Cloves, cardamoms, diya and sandalwood are brought to be offered to the goddess. Incense sticks are burnt and diya is lighted, along with the chants of “Om Hreeng Katyayaayanye Swaha, Om Shreeng Katyayaayanye Swaha”.
This is followed by offering Shodashopachara to Maa Katyayani. People also recite the Durga Saptashati after the puja, which is then concluded with aarti.
To appease Maa Katyayani as well as to seek blessings from her, the devotees prepare different kinds of bhog. Maa’s anukampa thus, reflects in the lives of the adherent and keeps them safe from all evils.
As a bhog, honey is offered to the goddess. Other items include coconut along with its husk, paan, supari, haldi, kumkum and bananas. She is also offered nuts and different kinds of fruits.
The essence of the festival lies in these prasads that are distributed among all the people who come for the puja, leading to much more blessings from the god above!
Maa Katyayani’s battle with the demon gives us an insight into the fact that evil cannot last long, even if it seems powerful for some time. There is always the almighty watching over us and helping us follow a path that is away from satanic clutches.
The sixth day also gives immense power to all the women, who face demons like Mahishasura in their day- today lives. Maa Katyayani’s battle teaches them that sheer determination and perseverance can remove any obstacle no matter how powerful it is.
Navratri is truly a blissful festival that provides neither one nor two but an end number of perspectives that we always overlook amidst our ignorant lifestyle.
Indeed, Durgotsava brings Navjeevan to all those who believe in the mightiness of the Supreme being!