September 21 is the second night of Navratri 2017 in North America. Navratri is nine nights celebrating the many forms of the goddess which Durga has taken. That is why the goddesses are known as NavaDurga (Nine Durgas). Each goddess has particular aspects or qualities which we can embrace. The women in Maharashtra and Gujarat states typically wear saris (traditional Indian dresses) of a different color to go with the auspicious color for that day/ night. There is also a planetary association with each of the nine goddesses. One of the nava graha (nine planets) is for each NavaDurga. The first three nights of Navratri are dedicated to Kali.
On the second night of Navratri, the phase of the Moon (tithi) is known Dwitya. The second night of Navratari honors the goddess Brahmacharini. The governing planet is Mars (known as Mangal in Vedic astrology) . The auspicious sari color for the day is yellow, according to Drik Panchang. In this instance, yellow is also the color to wear to propitate Jupiter, the planetary ruler of Thursdays.
Brahmacharini is also known as Tapaswini, Tapasyacharini (a female who practices penance) or Parvati (the daughter of the mountain).
She walks barefooot. In one hand she carries a japa mala (for mantra recitation) and the other is kamandalu or a water pot. Brahmacharini is a goddess associated with wisdom and knowledge.
One way to worship her is to offer sugar to her and then give that to a Brahmin (holy Indian priest). Garlands of hibiscus and lotus flowers may be offered to her as well. You can also offer cardamom, rock candy and nuts to her as prasad.
Drik Panchang states: Goddess Brahmacharini did severe penance to get Lord Shiva as her husband. She performed hard austerities (tapas) and due to which she was called Brahmacharini.
It is stated that during her penance to get Lord Shiva as her husband, she spent 1,000 years on a diet of flowers and fruits and another 100 years on a diet on leafy vegetables while sleeping on the ground. She followed a strict fasting regimen while inhabiting open places in the scorching summers, harsh winters, and stormy rains. According to Hindu mythology, she maintained a diet of bilva leaves for 3,000 years while she prayed to Lord Shankar. Afterwards, she even stopped eating Bilva leaves and continued her penance without any food or water. Brahmacharini was known as Aparna when she stopped eating bilva leaves.
As a result of her penance, she became quite emaciated. Her penance had a great impact on the universe and the sages granted her the boon of attaining Lord Shiva.
Vedamurti Shri Vivek Godbole says of Brahmacharini:
We usually think this is a woman who never married or didn’t desire to be with a male partner. But that is not correct thinking. Brahma means knowledge. Everything is Brahma; everything is knowledge. Brahmacharini is always studying. She never rests. She wants to attain more knowledge. This form of the Nava Durga is very helpful to all students who are studying various subjects.
As we honor goddess Brahmacharini on this second night of Navratri , we can repeat her mantra:
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु माँ शैलपुत्री रूपेण संस्थिता। नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नम:।।
Dadhana karpadmabhayaamaqshmala kamadalu !
Devi prasidatu mayi brahmchaarinyanutama !!
The voidcan website states: To get the best result, you should chant the Brahmacharini Mantra in the early morning after taking a bath and (chant) in front of Goddess Shailputri’s idol or picture.
May Brahmacharini bless you on this second night of Navratri.
Also published on Medium.