Navratri is a 10-day long Hindu festival which is one of the most popular festivals in India. During Navratri, the 9 forms of Goddess Durga are celebrated and prayed to. On each day of the festival, devotees pray to a different goddess. The first four days Maa Shailaputri, Maa Brahmacharini, Goddess Chandraghanta and Devi Kushmanda were worshipped. On the fifth day, Maa Skandamata will be worshipped. She is the fifth form of Goddess Durga. She is the mother of Lord Kartikeya who is also called Skanda and her name comes from him. Maa Skandamata symbolizes the mother form of Goddess Durga and is benevolent and kind. Praying to her the devotees earn blessings in two-fold as the Lord Skanda or God Kartikeya is also worshipped since he is sitting in his mother’s lap.
Goddess Skandamata is four-armed and rides a lion-like Goddess Durga. She carries a lotus in one of her hand, a water-bearer or a bell in another, one of her hands is always depicted in a blessing gesture extended towards her devotees and in her fourth hand, she holds Lord Skanda or Murugan who is seated on her lap. She is depicted as a fair complexioned goddess seated on a lotus for which she is also called Goddess Padmasana.
Goddess Skandamata awards salvation, power, prosperity, and treasures to her devotees. She also provides wisdom to her devotees who worship her. The devotee who worships her attains all achievements and success in their life and bears a pure heart. Goddess Skandamata should be worshipped with a pure heart devoid of worldly bondage and utmost devotion, the person who does this is blessed by the Goddess with power and prosperity.
According to legends, the birth of God Skanda can be found in the Skanda Puran. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s energies combined into a divine form when they were meditating. Lord Indra came to know about this and instructed Lord Agni to steal this divine energy as it was foretold that the child born out of the energies of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati will kill the demon Tarakasur.
When Goddess Parvati found what Lord Agni had done she cursed him to be all-burner who would not know the difference between right and wrong and will scorch anyone who touches him and will forever be surrounded by black smoke. Shiva’s son Kartikeya takes birth from the six Kritikas (Mother) and not Goddess Parvati. Lord Kartikeya was named thus because he was born and reared by the Kritikas. However, Goddess Parvati took him back from Kritika Lok and accepts him as her son making him a great mother and setting an example in front of the world. Goddess Parvati took Lord Kartikeya back to Mount Kailasha riding a lion in the form of Goddess Skandamata and blesses him to fight against the demon Tarakasur.