Maha Gauri bhaktas are relieved from their sufferings. She takes the name of Shambhavi as Lord Siva’s consort. Maha Gauri is inseparable from Mahadeva. This is the radiant and tranquil form of Goddess Parvathi. She is the manifestation of divine energy and perfect wife of Lord Siva. In that role she represents purity and austerity. She took many forms to earn the Lord’s attention. As Gauri she was a Kannya or virgin performing severe austerities. Her penance is best seen as the mythology herein and worship attributed to Maa.
DEPICTION: Maha Gauri Swaroopa depicts her as white as a conch, moon and jasmine. Even her clothes are symbolically pure white. She has matching ornaments of cool nature. She is also depicted to have a divine golden complexion. Maha Guari is shown to have three eyes. Mother has four arms. Her right arm is in the mudra of allaying fear. She holds a trident in her lower right hand symbolical of birth, sustenance and destruction . She holds a tambourine in her left upper arm to symbolize divine pranava Om and for Mother’s blessings to reach her devotees in the form of various sounds in prakriti. The lower left hand is the form of a blessing. Mother always appears calm and peaceful.
VAHANA: Her vahana is a white bull. It has a bell hanging from its neck to announce her arrival. Maha Guri is seated on a tiger skin placed on the bull. Bhaktas often hear this as little ringing sounds in their hearts. The bull is a symbol of fertility. According to another legend, the lion is also her vahans. Once, a hungry lion sat in front of Mother, waiting for her penance to be over so that it can satisfy its hunger. But days passed and the lion became weak. When Mother opened her eye she saw the lion sitting in front of her in an adverse condition. She felt moved because the lion had also indirectly observed penance along with the goddess. She then made the lion her vahana. Since then the lion and bull are considered as the ride of Mother Mahagauri.
MYTHOLOGY: She observed severe penance as Goddess Parvati to get earn Lord Siva as her husband. Once, Lord Shiva was rude to her by pointing out her dark complexion. She started observing hard penance. This went on for over a thousand years. During this period her body got covered with soil. It became darker than ever. Then one day when Lord Shiva came looking for Mother. He was pleased with her penance. Thereafter he took Maa to the Ganges and bathed her lovingly. Mother regained her beauty with pure complexion and earned the name Maha Gauri.
WORSHIP: The eighth day of Navarathri is also Durga Ashtami Puja. This celebration is regional and rituals differ from place to place. The morning is Maha Ashtami. The day commences with ritualistic bathing and fasting for Pushpanjali or flower offerings. Durga’s deity is invoked by the usual kalasa puja. Flowers are held cupped in the hands while prayers go on. Mantra is chanted and normally a priest is in attendance. Flowers are then showered at Mother’s feet to seek blessings.
Kumari Puja, or the worship of very young virgin girls is one of the main attractions. The girls, viewed in their pure state are deemed to be Goddess Durga herself. This is the generalized notion of seeing divinity in humans. Mother Durga’s first eight aspects are also worshipped. Mother’s companions such as Jayanti. Mangala Kali, Bhadra Kali, Kapalini. Kshama Dhatri, Siva, Svaha and Svadha known as Yoginis are also worshipped. Lord Siva and Lord Brahma are also venerated. Arathi is performed in the evening. This is performed with fire or yagna. It symbolizes light which is the remover of ignorance and purifier of sins.
Santhi Puja marks the end of Durga Ashtmi. It is the interlinking puja between Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami. There is an interval of 48 minutes which is called Sandhi when Ashtami Tithi transits into Navami tithi. Sandhi in Tamil is also connection. Sandhi is highly sacred. The first 24 mins falls in Ashtami and second 24 mins fall in Navami. During these times, Mother Durga is venerated as Mother Chamunda, the Kali manifestion that slayed the demons Chanda and Munda. It is also to be noted that Sri Krishna was born in Ashtami Tithi and Rama, Navami Tithi.
Unmarried girls worship Mother with the hope of getting decent life partners. The goddess protects the husband of those females who worship her with full devotion. Mother’s powers are unfailing and instantly fruitful. Mother’s bull is venerated as a symbol of fertility and prospertity. All sins of devotees are washed away with the result of her worship. Even accumulated sins get destroyed and in future no sins or sufferings come to him. Bhaktas gets purified in all respects and becomes fit for inexhaustible virtues
MANTRA: The goddess appears faithful, affectionate, calm and soft in nature. All the gods and sages worship this form of the goddess by chanting, “Sarvamangal Mangaleya, Shiva Saevartha Sadhike. Sharaneya Ambeyagauri Narayani Namastute.”
Om Maha Gauriye Namaha. Om Shivaya Namah Om