The sixth day of Navaratri (Shashti) is dedicated to Maa Katyayani. Maa Katyayani rides a lion and has four hands. She carries lotus flower and sword in her left hands while keeping her right hands in Abhaya and Varada Mudras.
Considered the destroyer of evil, it is believed that the planet Brihaspati is governed by Goddess Katyayani. She symbolizes intelligence and peace. She is also known as Mahishasurmardini, as she killed the demon. The slaying of Mahishasura is celebrated as Durga Pooja in many parts of India.
According to the Vamana Purana, she was created from the combined energies of the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva when their anger at the demon Mahishasura manifested itself in the form of energy rays. The rays crystallized in the hermitage of Katyayana Rishi, who gave it proper form. This is the reason she is also called Katyayani or daughter of Katyayana.
In certain texts, it is mentioned that Katyayana Rishi was an ardent devotee of Goddess Durga and impressed with his devotion and adulation, Goddess Durga granted his wish of becoming father to the goddess.
Significance of worshipping Maa Katyayani
It is said that the blessings of Goddess Katyayani help wash away the sins of the worshippers and remove negative forces, clearing hurdles. Worshiping her is said to help with ‘manglik dosha’ of devotees. Unmarried girls also keep a fast on this day hoping to get husband of their choice.
Story of Goddess Katyayani
Long ago there was a sage called Katyayana who was a huge devotee of Goddess Shakti. He always wished for Goddess Shakti to be born as his daughter. During the same period, an evil demon named Mahishasura who was gaining more and more power with each passing day had become a cause of worry for the gods. They prayed to Goddess Shakti and asked her to save them from Mahishasura's wrath.
Goddess Shakti looking at the devotion of sage Katyayana decided to take birth as his daughter and kill Mahishasur. Katyayani grew up to be strong, beautiful and a skilled fighter. One day Chandha and Mundha saw Katyayani and mesmerized by her beauty went back to their master and told him all about her. Mahishasura immediately asked his another messenger Dundubhi to go and talk to Katyayani.
When Dundubhi went to meet Katyayani with Mahishasura's proposal, she smiled and told Dundubhi that as per her family tradition, he would have to defeat her in a fight if he wanted to get married to her. Dundubhi conveyed the same to Mahishaura who agreed to her terms.
In a fierce battle that ensued between Katyayani and Mahishasura, the latter transformed himself into a buffalo and the former struggled to fight him in this form. Soon she climbed onto his back. Mahishasyra surprised by this move tried very hard to shake her off, but to no avail. Katyayani then placed her foot on the back of Mahishasura’s neck, pierced him with her Trishul (trident) and cut his head off.
Before starting the puja, devotees should take a bath and wear clean clothes. After cleaning the puja place, and fresh flowers are offered. Honey and prasad are offered to the goddess. One should carry lotus flowers in their hands while reciting mantra and prayers.
The sixth form of the Mother Divine is Katyayani. Worshipped on the sixth day (Shashti), she is also known as a Warrior Goddess and is believed to be one of the most violent forms of Maa Durga.