Each of the nine forms of Maa Durga is manifested during the holy celebrations of Navratri to seek blessings from the ultimate “Adi-shakti” who created this universe and further nurtures and protects it. Maha Gauri is the eight manifestation of Devi Parvati who is worshipped on the eight day of Navratri. She is the protector who brings an end to all the sufferings in human life. She blesses her loyal devotees by fulfilling their desires.
Outwardly she appears divine. Her name Maha Gauri means extremely white which also symbolically means pure. Her complexion is radiant and white shinning brilliantly. Her complexion is compared to white conch shell, moon and white flower of Kunda. She wears a white sari and rides white bull. Hence she is also known as “Shwetambardhara”. She has four arms. On her upper left hand she holds a ‘Dumroo” while the other left arm is held up in blessing. Upper right arm holds a trident spear while the lower right arm is held up gesturing removal of fear.
Devi Parvati observed intense penance to marry Lord Shiva. When Lord Shiva was pleased he awarded her with a boon that he will marry her and she will be his wife soon. Lord Shiva cleansed Devi Parvati in the water of Ganges. This made her skin shine bright white. Thus he named her Maha Gauri.
She is known to be the purest form among the NavDurga. Hence performing a puja for her on the day of Ashtami is considered auspicious. This day is celebrated with fervour and devotion to Maha Gauri avataar of NavDurga. It is said that whoever prays to Maha Gauri with pure heart and good intentions is never returned without their prayers being answered. Ashtami puja is also seen as a culmination of all the prayers and offerings made the earlier days to different forms of NavDurga and bowing to the ultimate pure form of Devi Parvati to seek what your heart wishes. Bhog of various delicacies is offered to Maa Durga. Kanya Pujan (Worshiping and offering food to nine little girls) is done as a symbol of offering food to Maa Durga’s purest form as kids are considered pure at heart. These nine little girls are considered to be the forms of nine avataars of Maa Durga. Worshiping her on ninth day is rewarding. Many unmarried woman also worship her to get her blessings for finding a good husband and leading a happy, joyous and long married life. Ashtami puja ritual marks the cleansing of our souls of all the unwanted worries, the darkness as she is also a goddess of kindness and morality. She brings peace and prosperity to the pious souls of devotees.