Today is the third day of Navratri. During Navratri, devotees worship nine different forms of goddess Durga. The third day of Navratri is dedicated to Maa Chandraghanta who is worshipped as 'Suhag ki Devi' or goddess of marriage. She is also known as 'Rannchandi' and 'Chandika'.
She is the third avatar of goddess Durga and the married version of Parvati. It is believed that her better half Lord Shiva, made a half-shaped chandra (moon) from chandan (sandalwood) on her head and thereafter it became a regular aspect of her appearance. She also carried a big bell in her hand earning her the name Chandraghanta, which means a half-moon that appears like a bell.
Goddess Chandraghanta is represented with 10 hands in which she holds gada, trishul, kamandal and sword in her four left hands and her fifth left hand is in varada mudra. In the rest of her four hands, she carries lotus flowers, arrow, dhanush and japa mala and keeps the fifth right hand in abhaya mudra.
It is popularly believed that she signifies spirituality and internal power. Her third eye is always open and she is considered to be always ready to fight with any trouble or demon. People worship her to ward off bad omens. It is considered that the sound of her moon-bell/Chandraghanta keeps troubles away. Third day of Navratri is associated with grey colour which signifies the appearance of Maa Chandraghanta who has zeal and determination to destroy evil.
Maa Chandraghanta Puja Vidhi
Firstly, the idol of goddess Chandraghanta is placed on an elevated surface such as a chowki or table, and once it is done, the area is cleaned with gangajal. A pot of copper or clay filled with clean water is kept and mounted on the same chowki with a coconut on it. After doing so, the idol of the goddess is bathed with gangajal or gau mutra.
In the next step, akshat, roli, prasad, flowers/garlands, bindi, bangles, coconut etc are offered to the goddess. The Goddess is adorned in golden or yellow colour clothes and flowers. Finally, a sweet made of milk is offered as bhog to the goddess and later on distributed among the people as prashad.
Once all of this process is done, devotees chant 'Om Devi Chandraghantayai Namah' or recite a prayer for the goddess - Pindaja Pravararudha Chandakopastrakairyuta Prasadam Tanute Mahyam Chandraghanteti Vishruta.