The sixth day of Navaratri is dedicated to Maa Katyayani (Kātyāyanī/कात्यायनी), a powerful warrior Goddess. She is depicted in various forms, sometimes with four hands and sometimes with ten or even eighteen. In her four-armed form, she holds a long sword and a lotus in two hands, while the third hand blesses her devotees and the fourth hand protects them. She rides a lion, symbolizing her strength and fearlessness. Maa Katyayani is considered a fierce embodiment of the Divine Feminine in Shaktism, alongside other deities like Bhadrakali and Chandika. Her vibrant red colour represents the intensity of her power and the unwavering strength she offers to her worshippers.
Rituals and Worship of Maa Katyayani
Start your day with a refreshing bath and wear fresh, clean clothes. Cleanse the idol/image of Maa Katyayani with Ganga water, dress the idol/image in a red or yellow cloth, and offer red flowers, sacred thread, and kumkum to show respect. As an offering of gratitude, present five different fruits and sweets.
Maa Katyayani has a special fondness for honey, so offering it is a meaningful gesture of devotion. Meditate on her divine form and connect with her protective and fierce energies. Perform the sacred Aarti to show your dedication and surround her with the radiance of your devotion. These rituals express your reverence for Maa Katyayani and seek her blessings and protection.
The Gopis' Sacred Fast: Seeking Maa Katyayani's Blessings
कात्यायनी शुभं दद्याद्देवी दानवघातिनी॥
Chandrahāsojjvalakarā śārdūlavara vāhanā।
Kātyāyanī śubham dadyād devī dānavaghātinī॥
She who has a radiant smile like the moon, with a vehicle as fierce as a tiger, destroyer of demons, known as Katyayani, may grant auspiciousness.
The followers of Shree Krishna hold a special place in their hearts for Maa Katyayani due to her great significance beyond time and place. In Vrindavan, the Gopis greatly respected her and fasted in her honour to gain the divine love of Shree Krishna. Their devotion led them to the Yamuna River, where they worshipped Maa Katyayani and asked for Shree Krishna as their beloved husband.
Their heartfelt prayers were heard by the divine mother who blessed them with her kindness. On the auspicious day of Sharat Poornima, Shree Krishna fulfilled the Gopis' fervent wishes by performing the beautiful Rass Leela, a celestial dance of love and devotion. This confirms Maa Katayani's position as the ruling deity of the divine land of Braj, a testament to her role in uniting devotees with their beloved Lord.
The Legend of Katyayani: The Divine Daughter of Sage Katyayan and Slayer of Mahishasura
According to the Vamana Purana, a sage named Katyayan had no children, even though he was wise and devoted. He yearned for a child and, in his desperation, engaged in penance and fervent prayers to the gods. Meanwhile, the daitya (demon) king Mahishasura was causing chaos among the Devatas. The Devatas turned to the Holy Trinity - Lord Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh - for help. The combined energies of the Trinity manifested as radiant divine rays, which crystallized in the sacred hermitage of Sage Katyayan. He lovingly shaped this divine energy into a tangible form, and thus, she became known as Katyayani, the "daughter of Katyayana.
Endowed with the blessings and weapons of the gods, Katyayani embarked on a divine mission to confront Mahishasura. The Asuras, captivated by her unparalleled beauty, described her to their king, Mahishasura, who was equally smitten. Mahishasura, driven by desire, sought her hand in marriage, but Katyayani, the valiant goddess, declared that she must be won in combat.
In response, Mahishasura transformed into a formidable bull, assuming the guise of Mahisha, and engaged Katyayani in a fierce battle. The battle raged on, and ultimately, the resolute goddess dismounted from her noble lion, leaping onto the back of the bull. With her tender yet powerful feet, she struck Mahishasura on the head with a force that left him senseless. In that moment of victory, she unsheathed her mighty sword and severed the head of Mahishasura. From that day forth, she became renowned as Mahishasuramardini, the Slayer of Mahishasura, a symbol of the triumph of divine strength over darkness.