Navratri’s eighth day is dedicated to the worship of Maa Mahagauri. ‘Maha’ means ‘great’, and ‘Gauri’ means ‘radiant’, hence the name Mahagauri. She is compassionate, caring, and known to fulfil the deepest desires of all her devotees. Also, it is believed that Maa Mahagauri offers relief from all kinds of pain and suffering.
History and Origin
After the death of his first companion – Devi Sati – Lord Shiva devoted himself to deep penance and meditation. Shiva refused to leave his meditation and remained away from all worldly affairs for many years.
In the meantime, a demon named, Tarakasura, was troubling the Gods to no end. Devi Sati was reborn as Maa Shailaputri, the daughter of the Himalayas, at the request of the Gods. She was also known as Maa Parvati.
Supposedly, she would awaken Lord Shiva from his meditation, and their child would go on to kill Tarakasura. Sage Narada arrived at Maa Parvati’s doorstep one day and told her everything about her previous life.
Furthermore, he told her that she would have to perform severe Tapasya (penance) for Lord Shiva to know her truth. Maa Parvati agreed and gave up her palace’s comforts and luxuries. She went into the forest and began her penance.
Thousands of years passed, but Maa Parvati never gave up. Despite the cold, rain, and storms, she refused to eat or drink anything. Consequently, her skin turned dark and her body was now covered in dust, soil, leaves, etc. She became pale and thin. As a result of this severe Tapasya, Maa Parvati lost all her radiance and became extremely weak. After a long time, Lord Shiva took notice of her penance. He even tested her devotion and realized that she was his Sati from a previous life.
Thus Lord Siva decided to marry Parvati . He wanted to cleanse her as she bacame weak and dark with her strict penance. This cleansing was done with the holy Ganga which flowed through the Lord’s hair and it fell on Maa Parvati. This sacred water washed away all the impurities from Her body and she regained all her radiance and beauty. This made her known as Mahagauri.
She wears white clothes, rides a white bull, and has four arms. The goddess holds with each hand a Trishul (trident), a lotus, and a drum, while she uses the fourth hand to bless all her devotees. Maa Mahagauri represents the purity and inner beauty of all living things. As a loving Goddess, she helps her devotees overcome their difficulties as well.