Katyayani is the sixth form amongst Navadurga or the nine forms of Hindu goddess Parvati (Shakti), worshipped during the Navratri celebrations.
According to ancient legends, she was born a daughter of Katyayana Rishi, born in the Katya lineage, thus called Katyayani, “daughter of Katyayana”. Elsewhere in texts like Kalika Purana, it is mentioned that it was Rishi Kaytyayana who first worshipped her, hence she came to known as Katyayani. In either case, she is a demonstration or apparition of the Durga and is worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri festival.
The Vamana Purana mentions the legend of her creation in great detail: “When the gods had sought Vishnu in their distress, he and at his command Shiva, Brahma and the other gods, emitted such flames from their eyes and countenances that a mountain of effulgence was formed, from which became manifest Katyayini, refulgent as a thousand suns, having three eyes, black hair and eighteen arms. Shiva gave her his trident, Vishnu a Sudarshan Chakra or discus, Varuna a shankha, a conch-shell, Agni a dart, Vayu a bow, Surya a quiver full of arrows, Indra a thunderbolt, Kuvera a mace, Brahma a rosary and water-pot, Kala a shield and sword, Visvakarma a battle-axe and other weapons. Thus armed and adored by the gods, Katyayani proceeded to the Mysore hills. There, the asuras saw her and captivated by her beauty they so described her to Mahishasura, their king, that he was anxious to obtain her. On asking for her hand, she told him she must be won in fight. He came and fought; at length Durga dismounted from her lion, and sprang upon the back of Mahisha, who was in the form of a buffalo and with her tender feet so smote him on the head that he fell to the ground senseless, when she cut off his head with her sword and hence was called Mahishasuramardini, the Slayer of Mahishasura., the legend also finds mention in Varaha Purana and the classical text of Shaktism, the Devi-Bhagavata Purana.
As per Karveer Mahatmya, Katyayani accompanied goddess Durga(Mahalakshmi) to Karvir (town)(present day Kolhapur) and participated in the war against demon Kolhasur. Raktabeej, an aide of Kolhasur, possessed a power (Siddhi) whereby every drop of his blood spilled on earth would give rise to a demon. Due to this power, Bhairava was finding it impossible to kill Raktabeej. Katyayani swallowed all of Raktabeej’s blood without letting it fall on earth. She created an Amrut Kunda(tank of nectar) to rejuvenate Bhairava’s soldiers, thus playing a crucial role in the war. Her temple to the South of Kolhapur commemorates this.
The Bhagavata Purana in 10th Canto, 22nd Chapter, describes the legend of Katyayani Vrata, where young marriageable daughters (gopis) of the cowherd men of Gokula in Braja, worshipped Goddess Katyayani and took a vrata or vow, during the entire month of Margashirsha, the first month of the winter season, to get Lord Krishna as their husband. During the month, they ate only unspiced khichri and after bathing in the Yamuna at sunrise, made an earthen deity of the goddess on the riverbank and worshipped the idol with aromatic substances like sandalwood pulp, lamps, fruits, betel nuts, newly grown leaves, fragrant garlands and incense. This follows the episode where Krishna takes away their clothes while they were bathing in the Yamuna River.
She is worshiped as the Adi shakti swaroop who if you make vow of fasting, would give you the husband you have wished and prayed for. The fasting, called Kātyāyanī-vrata is made for a whole month, offering such things as sandal, flowers, incense, etc.: “During the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, every day early in the morning the young daughters of the cowherds(gopis) would take one another’s hands and singing of Krishna’s transcendental qualities, go to the Yamuna(Jamuna) to bathe. Desiring to obtain Krishna as their husband, they would then worship the goddess Kātyāyanī with incense, flowers and other items”.
Each day they rose at dawn. Calling out to others by name, they all held hands and loudly sang glories of Krishna while going to Kālindī(personified Jamuna) to take their bath.
The Adolescent Virgin Goddess in the southern tip of India, Devi Kanya Kumari is said to be the avatar of Devi Katyayani. She is the goddess of penance and Sanyas. During the Pongal(Thai Pongal), a harvest festival, which coincides with the Makara Sankranthi and is celebrated in Tamil Nadu, young girls prayed for rain and prosperity and throughout the month, they avoided milk and milk products. Women used to bath early in the morning and worshiped the idol of Goddess Katyayani, carved out of wet sand. The penance ended on the first day of the month of Thai(January–February) in Tamil calendar.
ॐ देवी कात्यायन्यै नमः॥
Om Devi Katyayanyai Namah॥
कात्यायनी शुभं दद्याद् देवी दानवघातिनी॥
Katyayani Shubham Dadyad Devi Danavaghatini॥
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु माँ कात्यायनी रूपेण संस्थिता।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः॥
Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Ma Katyayani Rupena Samsthita।
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah॥
Day 6 – Shashthi – Katyayani – Navratri Stories