The auspicious nine-day festival of Chaitra Navratri ( Nav meaning nine and Ratri meaning nights) begins today and will last until April 14. The festival is dedicated to Goddess Durga who is considered the greatest embodiment of strength. Known as the destroyer of evil and enforcer of good sense and morality, Durga, the ten-armed Goddess is worshipped during Navratri, a festival spread over nine days during four different times of the year.
Out of the four Navratris, the Chaitra and the Sharadiya are the most popular. The others are Aashada and Magha Gupta Navratri.
It is known the Maa Durga was jointly created by the holy trinity - Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer) to eliminate a demon named Mahishasur, who's treachery ruined peace and sanctity in the three worlds.
The Goddess appeared in nine forms and the first night of Navratri is dedicated to Shailputri, the daughter of the mountains.
Shailputri is worshipped as an absolute form of Mother Nature. The goddess is depicted with a crescent on her forehead, a trident in her right and a lotus in her left hand. She is mounted on the back of a bull.
Chant this mantra to seek Shailputri's blessings:
वन्दे वांछित लाभाय चन्द्रार्द्वकृतशेखराम्।
वृषारूढ़ा शूलधरां यशस्विनीम्॥
Vande Vanchhitalabhay Chandrardhakritshekharam
Vrisharudham Shooldharam Shailputreem Yashasvineem