The Navratra Saga , Day 1: Shailaputri, rising from the ashes of a great sacrifice
The first incarnation worshiped on the first day of Navratras is Mother ‘Shailaputri’. The literal meaning of ‘ShailaPutri’ is the daughter (putri) of the mountains ‘Shail’. She is famously known by her name ‘Parvati’, being born to the ‘Parvatraj Himalaya’ ; or ‘Hemavati’, the daughter of ‘Hemavana’, the King of Himalayas.
Legend: Her legend goes that in her previous birth, she was ‘Sati’, the daughter of King Dakhsa and the original consort to Lord Shiva. The story follows that King Daksha arranged a ‘Yagna’, a great sacrifice and invited all the sages, saints, gods and demigods but Lord Shiva, the husband of her own daughter. Sati, on obtaining knowledge of this, took offence at the intended insult that was directed towards her Lord. She, infuriated, asked the Lord for permission to go and confront her father of this undue disrespect he had dared for her Lord. Although Lord persisted her to not be troubled by these trivial matters as they can cause bitterness in relations, she obstinately insisted on attending the Yagna to which Lord Shiva gave permission, thereafter. When Sati reached the Yagna, she was taken aback by the denunciation of Lord Shiva by the servants of Kind Daksha as he also indulged in insulting Shiva. She found her sisters taunting Sati and her marriage to Lord Shiva. This enraged her so severely that she could not take this terrible insult of her husband and submitted herself to the sacrificial flames of the Yagna. She took birth again as the daughter to the Himalayan King as Parvati. Like her previous birth, she did severe penance and propitiated Lord Shiva as her husband.
Depiction: Shailaputri or Parvati is often thought to be the earthly manifestation of The Divine Durga. She is seen with holding a trident in her right hand and a lotus in her left. She is riding Nandi, the bull. Shailaputri is thought to be the source of the power of all the three Lords- Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. She reigns over the mountains, the land, the water and even the wind as they all draw energy from her. She is depicted to be a physical revelation of the Eternal Godmother Shakti. She is worshipped on the first day to start the process of transcending into higher spiritual aura or Yog Sadhna. Shailaputri is the earthly essence of the Supreme Goddess. Her colour is crimson, her element is earth, her quality is coherence and her distinct characteristic is Ghraana (smell).