On the occasion of Ashtami, SNEHA SINGH recounts how Maa Parvati became Maha Gauri
In the midst of garba hopping and dhunuchi dance, you may have not realised that the auspicious nine days of Navratri are reaching an end. Seven auspicious days of Navratri have passed, and now devotees can’t wait to welcome the eighth avatar of Ma Durga, Ma Maha Gauri – the eighth manifestation amongst the Navadurgas. Maha Ashtami is the day where devotees perform maha puja in the name of the goddess, who has the power to liberate the world from evil forces. The goddess of beauty and wisdom, Gauri, who is extremely fair in complexion, is also known Shwetambara.
The day of Ashtami begins with mahasnan and shaopchar puja, followed by Kumari Puja, where people invite nine young girls at home, who are fondly called as Kanyas. The nine girls signify the nine avatars of Navdurga. Devotees offer satvik bhojan (food that excludes garlic, onion) and halwa to the deity, which is later served to the little girls, who are also given gifts.
Mythology has it that Parvati had decided to perform an austere penance in order to obtain Lord Shiva as her husband. She left her palace and braved the heat, rains, storms and cold, in the course of her tapasya. Soil and dust covered her body and her skin turned dark. Eventually, Mahadev appeared in front of Parvati and accepted her wish. She then bathed in the holy waters of the Ganga, which emits from Shiva’s jatta, or matted hairs.
The sacred waters washed off all the dirt clinging to Parvati’s person and she became dazzling and glorious. And this is how Parvati became Maha Gauri. Mother Gauri is Devi, Shakti or the Mother Goddess, who appears in many forms, such as Durga, Parvati, Kali and others. She is auspicious, brilliant and protects the good people while punishing those who perform evil deeds.
Mother Gauri enlightens the spiritual seeker and removes the fear of rebirth by granting salvation.