The 8th day of Navratri is known as Ashtami or Durga Ashtami that holds a lot of importance in the Hindu tradition. Mahagauri is the eighth avatar of Goddess Durga.
Mahagauri means extremely white and her fair complexion gained her the name Mahagauri. She has four arms, in Her upper right hand, She holds a Trishul (trident) and in her lower left hand, She carries a Damaru (small, two-headed drum). Her upper left hand is in the Varada Mudra position, and Her lower right-hand forms the Abhaya Mudra. She is normally portrayed in white saree hence also known as Shwetambardhara. She rides on a bull, which has fetched her name Vrisharudha.
On worshipping her on this day, devotees are said to achieve all their desires in life and get rid of all the sins. Worshipping her is also good for improving the knowledge skills. She also is believed to detach sorrows from life.
On the sacred occasion of Ashtami Pooja, Kanya Poojan (feeding of little girls) is also done to please Goddesses of Navdurga (nine forms of Durga). Nine little girls are invited at home of worshippers and are fed varieties of delicious sweet dishes. Devotees pay the best homage to nine little girls considering them nine forms of Navdurga. This ritual accomplishes their Pooja and gives blessings of Nav Durga.
The story of Maa Mahagauri in English
According to a story, Goddess Parvati performed intense sacrament and penance in the forest of Himalayas to get Lord Shiva as her husband. During this time her body got covered with soil and she turned black in complexion. This went on for over a thousand years and her skin became darker than ever. Then one day when Lord Shiva came looking for her. He was pleased with her penance. Thereafter he cleaned her with the holy water of the Ganges. Her skin started shining like a white pearl and she regained her beauty with pure complexion and earned the name Maha Gauri.
Maa Mahagauri Ki Katha
मां पार्वती ने भगवान शिव को अपने पति के रूप में पाने के लिए बड़ी ही कठोर तपस्या की थी। उनकी इस तपस्या के कारण उनका शरीर काला पड़ गया था।
जब मां की कठोर तपस्या के कारण भगवान शिव का सिहांसन हिलने लगा तो उन्होंने मां पार्वती को पत्नी के रूप में स्वीकार लिया और उनके पूरे शरीर को गंगा जल से धोया।
गंगा जल से मां पार्वती के शरीर को धोने के बाद उनका शरीर कांतिवान और गौरा हो गया तब ही से मां का नाम गौरी पड गया।
मां का यह रूप अत्यंत ही करुणामयी, स्नेहमयी, शांत और मृदुल है। मां के इस रूप का ऋषिगणों ने कुछ इस प्रकार वर्णन किया है “सर्वमंगल मंग्ल्ये, शिवे सर्वार्थ साधिके। शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोस्तुते।।”।
Maa Mahagauri Mantra
Shwete Vrishe Maha Rudha Shwetambardhara Shuchih |
Maha Gauri Subham Dadhyanmahadev Pramodada ||
श्वेते वृषे समारूढा श्वेताम्बरधरा शुचिः |
महागौरी शुभं दद्यान्त्र महादेव प्रमोददा ||