Today is the first day of Navratri, the nine day celebration of the nine avatars of the Supreme Goddess Parvati. Navratri literally means nine nights, so each evening there are pujas and festivities that invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as “Durga,” Durga literally means the remover of misery. The mother goddess is also called Devi, which simply means goddess, or Shakti, which means energy or power. It is the energy of the goddess that helps God to get on with the work of creation, preservation, and destruction. You could say that where God is absolute and changeless, the goddess energy is the one that does all the work.
Navratri is broken into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the supreme Goddess. In the first three days we invoke the goddess Durga to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects. The next three days we invoke the goddess Lakshmi, the giver of spiritual and material wealth, health, and wellbeing. And the last three days we invoke the goddess Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom. In order have a well-ballanced and successful life we need the blessings of all three aspects of the goddess; therefore we worship for nine nights.
The nine forms of Shakti who are worshipped during Navratri include:
- Amba or Jagadamba, Mother of the Universe
- Annapoorna devi, The Giver of Nourishment
- Chandika or Chandi