Navratri/Navratra as the name suggests is a nine-day long festival. It is preceded by Pitri/Pitru Paksha ( a time for paying homage to our ancestors). On the tenth day is Dussehra/Vijaydashmi (the day when Lord Ram defeated Raavan). The fortnight ends with Kojagiri Poornima .
Each of the nine days of Navratra have different significance. In each of these nine days a different form of Devi Durga is worshipped. These forms are rightly known as “Navdurga”
Day 1: Pratham/Pratipada
This is the day for Ghatasthapana. In many parts of India, on this day seeds of five grains are sown in a pot. This pot is then worshipped for 9 days. It marks the harvest season. On the first day “Shailaputri” is worshipped. Shailaputri means daughter of the Mountain king. She is also known as Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya. In her previous birth she was born as Sati (who was Lord Shiv’s first wife).Shailaputri is the first of the navdurgas to be worshipped. the Shailaputri rides a bull and carries a Trishul (trident) and a lotus in her two hands. She wears a half-moon in her hair.
Day 2 : Dwitiya
On the second day “Bramhacharini” Navdurga is worshipped. She is the idol of tapasya (penance). in her previous birth she was Devi Parvati who had done penance so that Lord Shiva would be pleased with her and grant her , her wish of having him as her husband. She holds a Rudraksha Mala (Rosary) in her right hand and a Kamandal(Water utensil) in her left hand.She is the goddess of happiness, peace and prosperity. It is said that one must worship the Bramhacharini form for Moksha Prapti
Day 3 : Tritiya
Day three is for the worship of “Chandra Ghanta”. She has a half-moon on her forehead and hence the name. She has a bright golden complextion.This navdurga rides a tiger, has three eyes and ten hands with weapons in them. She is worshipped for strength and bravery.
Day 4 : Chaturthi
On this day “Kushmanda” devi is worshipped. She is considered to be the creator of the universe. It is said that she has the capacity to create universe merely by laughing.She rides a lion and has eight hands.
Day 5: Panchami
It is the day for “Skanda Mata” She is the mother of Lord Kartikeya (Skanda). She is the goddess of fire. Skanda Mata has four arms and three eyes. She holds infant form of Lord Skanda . She is often depicted to be seated on a lotus.
Day 6: Shashthi
“Katyayani” Devi is worshipped on the sixth day.There was once a saint Kata. He was a devotee of Durga Devi. Impressed by his worship, Durga Devi granted him one wish. He wished that she should take birth in the form of his daughter. And hence, Katyayani devi was born to Kata. She has three eyes and eight hands. She rides a lion. She is considered to be the epitome of love and anger.
Day 7: Saptami
On the seventh day “Kaal Ratri” devi is worshipped. She is dark in complexion. She is said to be as dark as night. She has three eyes which shine brightly and flames emanate from her mouth. She rides on a donkey. She is also known as Shubhamkari- the one who does good.She is the most violent form of goddess Durga.
Day 8: Ashtami
The navdurga for the 8th day is “Maha Gauri” She washes away all the sins of the past, present and future as well. She purifies her devotees. She wears white clothes, has four arms and rides a bull. She has three eyes. It is said that her body became dirty while doing tapasya. Lord Shiva cleansed her with water from the sacred Ganga river. After that her body became bright like jasmine.
Day 9: Navmi
On the ninth day we worship “Siddhidatri” She has supernatural healing powers.She has four arms and she rides a lion. There is a legend that Lord Shiva worshipped the Devi to obtain all his Siddhis. By the devi’s blessing have of Shiva’s body became female and the form of Lord Shiva as Ardhanarishvar has become famous.