Navratri is one of the most important festivals in Hindu tradition and is celebrated over a period of 9 nights and 10 days. Although the northern and western parts of the country refer to the celebrations as Dussehra, it is also known as Durga Puja in eastern states of India.
Here, each day of the festival is dedicated to the nine forms or avatars of Goddess Durga. The festival of Navratri begins with the worship of Maa Shailaputri and is followed by the worship of Maa Chandraghanta, Maa Kushmanda, Maa Katyayani and the other avatars of Goddess Durga.
Worship of Maa Mahagauri
The eighth day of Navratri is dedicated to the worship of Maa Mahagauri. The word Maha means great and the word Gauri means radiant or fair, hence the name Mahagauri
She is compassionate, caring and is known to fulfil the deepest desires of all her devotees. It is also believed that Maa Mahagauri offers relief from all kinds of pain and suffering.
History and Origin
A long time ago, Lord Shiva went into deep penance and meditation due to the death of his first companion - Devi Sati. Lord Shiva refused to come out of his meditation and stayed away from all worldly affairs for many years.
Meanwhile, a demon by the name of Tarakasura was troubling the Gods to no end. At the request of the Gods, Devi Sati was reborn as Maa Shailaputri, the daughter of the Himalayas. She was also called as Maa Parvati.
It was said that she would bring Lord Shiva out of his meditation and their child would go on kill Tarakasura. One day, Sage Narada arrived at Maa Parvati’s doorstep and told her everything about her previous birth.
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He also told her that she would have to perform severe Tapasya (penance), so that Lord Shiva can know her truth. Maa Parvati agreed and gave up all the comforts and luxuries of her palace. Soon, she went into a forest and began her dedicated penance.
Thousands of years passed but Maa Parvati did not give up. She refused to eat or drink anything, while also fighting through the cold, the rains and the storms. Due to this, her skin turned dark and her body was now covered with dust, soil, leaves, etc.
She turned extremely pale and thin. Due to this severe Tapasya, Maa Parvati lost all her radiance and became extremely weak. Finally, after a long time, Lord Shiva took notice of her penance. He even tested her devotion and realized that she was indeed his Sati, from the previous birth.
Lord Shiva agreed to marry Maa Parvati. Since, she had become weak and was covered in all kinds of dirt, Lord Shiva decided to cleanse her. He allowed the holy waters of Ganga flowing through his hair, to fall onto Maa Parvati. This sacred water washed away all the dirt from Maa Parvati’s body and she was able to regain her lost radiance.
Goddess of the Eighth Day of Navratri
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Due to her glow and extreme radiance, Maa Parvati came to be known as Mahagauri. She wears white clothes, rides a white-coloured bull and has four arms. She holds a Trishul (trident), a lotus and a drum in each of her hands, while she uses her fourth hand to bless all her devotees.
Maa Mahagauri represents the purity and inner beauty of every living being. She is a loving Goddess who takes care of her devotees and helps them overcome their difficulties as well.
Read More About Navratri:
Navratri (Day 1) – The Story of Maa Shailaputri
Navratri (Day 2) – The Story of Maa Bramhacharini
Navratri (Day 3) – The Story of Maa Chandraghanta
Navratri (Day 4) – The Story of Maa Kushmanda
Navratri (Day 5) – The Story of Maa Skandmata
Navratri (Day 6) – The Story of Maa Katyayani
Navratri (Day 7) – The Story of Maa Kaalratri