Goddess Durga arrival, departure during Navratri Puja is considered very significant. The vehicles on which Goddess Durga comes and goes on the first day and the last day of Navratri respectively represents the coming year’s harvest, prosperity, happiness, wealth, health, etc, for people.
These are considered as omens for Navratri. The various modes for Durga’s arrival and departure are – an elephant, a horse, palanquin, boat, buffalo, etc. The vehicles of arrival and the departure are predicted based on the week day of Ghatasthapana & Vijaya Dashami or the first day of Durga Puja and Durga Bisarjan day.
The elephant (gaja vahana) signifies prosperity and good harvest while journey on a horse back (Ashwa vahana / Turang) indicates drought, a palanquin (Palkhi) spells wide spread epidemic and the boat suggests flood and misery.
When the Goddess arrives and leaves the earth on the same vehicle… for example horse, then it indicates natural calamities, social unrest and political upheaval.
Devotees worship nine forms of Goddess Durga – Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri – in the same order on every day during the nine-day Navaratra. Maa Durga, who arrives with Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartikeya, would bless Her devotees and leave on Vijaya Dashami.
The vehicles or the modes of Goddess Durga’s arrival and the departure may be different for Navratri Puja (which commences with Ghatasthapana on Ashwin Shukla Pratipada) and Durga Puja (which begins on Shashti/Saptami, mainly in Bengal).
Elephant is denoted to be the most peaceful mode. It signifies hailing of good harvest and prosperity.
Boat signifies both good harvest and flood.
Palanquin is said to signify outbreak of an epidemic.
Horse is termed as most destructive mode, hence all her path is trampled.