Goddess Durga (मां दुर्गा)
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु शक्तिरुपेण संस्थिता |
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः ||
[“Yaa Devi Sarva Bhuteshi Shakti Roopena Samasthita
Namastasyai- Namastasyai -Namastasya -Namo Namah” ]
Goddess Durga is the goddess of “Shakti” or power. There are nine forms of Goddess
Durga which are worshiped over the nine days. It is the biggest Hindu festival celebrated throughout India.
Goddess Durga is worshipped as Durga Puja in West Bengal
and Tripura. Apart from West Bengal, Durga Puja is also celebrated in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and in some parts of India including Delhi,
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir, Karnataka and Kerala. Durga Puja is also celebrated as a major festival in Nepal and Bangladesh.
Navaratri in the nine avatars of Ma Durga
Chaitra Navratri : Navaratii observed in Chaitra month (March -April) is
called Chaitra Navratri, also known as Chait Navratras. The festival is dedicated to Goddess Shakti and three of her
most popular forms– Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati – are worshipped during
the period. It begins on the first day of the Chaitra month and ends with Ram Navami.
Chaitra Navratri this year will begin on 11 April , 2013 and end on April
19, 2013. Chaitra Navratri begins on Thursday, a day that is ruled by planet
Venus, the planet of wealth. The Chaitra Navratri will be very special this year as it will be celebrated for
ten day instead of nine. This year, Skand Mata will be worshipped for two days. The extended
Panchami indicates Goddess Lakshmi's graciousness.This year Devi pujan will be conducted during the Sarvartha, Amrit
Siddhi Yog which is believed to be very auspicious and the devotee who will conduct special puja during this time will get rich.
Sardiya Navratri: Navratri observed in Aswin month ( September - October) is called Sardiya navratri, also known Durga Puja more popular in
India. This year Sardiya Navratra will begin on October 5,
2013 and ends on the day of Vijyadashmi, the 13th October 2013.
During the nine nights of Navaratri, Devi is worshipped in all Her names and forms each of which has a special significance
During the festival of Navaratri, Goddess Durga Devi is worshipped in nine avatars.
The nine avatars of Mata Durga Devi are:
Mata Shailputri – First Durga
(प्रथमं शैलपुत्रीं च दुर्गा )
वन्दे वाञ्छितलाभाय चन्द्रार्धकृतशेखराम |
वृषारूढां शूलधरां शैलपुत्रीं यशस्विनीम् ||
Shailputri means the daughter of the mountain, Himalaya. In
this form we see the divine Mother holding a trident in her right hand and a
lotus on her left. In her previous birth, she was called Sati, Bhavani and was the daughter of King
Daksha. After a lot of penance, she married Lord Shiva (शिव) .
But her father King Daksha was not too pleased. He had arranged for a Yagya/Yagna (Ritual done
around the sacrificial fire) where he invited everyone except his son-in-law, Lord Shiva. Upset and feeling humiliated, Sati decided to attend the event
uninvited. There, her father insulted Lord Shiva and in fury she stood on the sacrificial fire and burnt herself alive.
Lord Shiva enraged, ordered his followers to demolish the Yagya. Sati was reborn as the daughter of the king of the mountains, Himalaya in the name of Parvati -
Hemvati and got married with Lord Shiva (शिव) again.
Her this Swaroop is worshipped on the first day of the Navratri celebrations.
दधाना करपदमाभ्यामक्षमालाकमण्डलू |
देवी प्रसीदतु मयि ब्रम्हचारिण्यनुत्तमा ||
Brahmacharini or Tapasyacharini is Goddess Durga’s second avatars. The name holds the meaning of true penance and meditation. Her form depicts her
holding a rosary beads in her right hand and a Kamandalu, a pot containing holy water in her left. In her previous life, when she was reborn as the daughter of
Himalaya, she performed severe penance to have Lord Shiva as her husband. Narad
Muni, the divine sage advised her to take up meditation to win Him. Her intense
devotion, steadfastness and strict meditation for years under extreme conditions, gave her the name of Brahmacharini.
चन्द्रघण्टेति दुर्गा )
पिण्डजप्रवरारुढा चण्डकोपास्त्रकैर्युता |
प्रसादं तुनते मह्मं चन्द्रघण्टेति विश्रुता ||
Goddess Durga’s third avatars is known as Chandraghanta or
Shakti. Chandra means moon and Ghanta is the bell. This name finds its
explanation in the half-circular moon on the temple of the Goddess that
resembles a bell. She is three eyed with ten hands. Each hand holds ten
different weapons. She is seated on lion and is worshipped on the third day of
the Navratri celebration. Her hue is golden and her appearance always spreads a
calm and eternal peace all round. She is unprecedented image of bravery. The
frightful sound of her bell terrifies all the evil and demon. Worship of this
deity helps to eliminate the sorrow, hazards and dangers in ones life.
(कूष्माण्डेति चतुर्थकम् दुर्गा)
सुरासम्पूर्णकलशं रुधिराप्लुतमेव च |
दधानाः हस्तपदमाभ्यां कूष्माण्डा-शुबदास्तु मे ||
Goddess Durga’s fourth avatars is known as Kushmanda. Kush means happiness and she created the universe with a smile. She
is radiant as the Sun and rides a lion. She is Ashtabhuja or eight handed. Her
seven hands hold the holy pot, Kamandul, a bow, an arrow, a lotus, a pot
containing wine, a disc and a club. The eighth hand holds a string of rosary
beads that is believed to provide success and prudence.
This Swaroop of Durga is worshipped on the third day of the Navratri celebrations.
(पंचमं स्कन्दमातेति दुर्गा)
सिंहासनगता नित्यं पदमाश्रितकरद्वया|
शुभदास्तु सदा देवी स्कन्दमाता यशस्विनी||
Goddess Durga’s Fifth avatars is known as Skanda. Lord Kartik/Kartikeyan/ Karthikeyan is also known as Skanda. As
Goddess Durga is his mother, she is referred to as Skanda Mata. She is a deity
of fire with four arms. She holds her son Skanda with the top right hand and lotus in her lower hand. The top left hand is positioned in a blessing gesture
or Abhaya Mudra. She is fair complexioned, seated on a lotus and so also referred to as Padmasana.
(षष्ठं कत्यायनीतिच दुर्गा)
कात्यायनी शुभं दधाद्देवी दानवघातिनी||
Goddess Durga’s sixth avatars is known as Katyayani. Sage Katyaayan was the son of the great sage Kat. He observed
rigorous penance and worship of Bhagavati Paramba with a desire to get Paramba
as his daughter. His wish was granted. The daughter born was named Katyayani.
She has four hands. The top right hand is positioned in a gesture of providing
courage while the other hand is positioned in a gesture of rendering a boon. The
top left hand holds a sword and the other a lotus. The goddess rides a lion and worshiped on the sixth day of the Durga puja.
(सप्तमं कालरात्रीति दुर्गा)
एकवेणी जपाकर्णपूरा नग्ना खरास्थिता|
लम्बोष्ठी कर्णिकाकर्णी तैलाभ्यक्तशरीरिणी||
वर्धनमूर्ध्वजा कृण्णा कालरात्रिर्भयडूंकरी||
Goddess Durga’s seventh avatars is known as Kalratri.
Ratri means night so her complexion is as dark as the night. She has long, unmated hair with her three eyes that are shiny and bright. She has
four arms and is seen mounted on a Shav/Shava or dead body. Her right hand holds
a sword, while her lower hand is in a blessing stance. The left hand holds a burning torch and the lower left hand is in fearless position. She is known as
Shubhamkari or the auspicious one. Her form encourages her devotees to be fearless.
(महागौरीति चाष्टमम् दुर्गा)
श्र्वेते वृषे समारूढा श्र्वेताम्बरधरा शुचीः।
महागौरी शुभं दधा्न्महादेवप्रमोददा।
Goddess Durga’s eighth avatars is known as Maha Gauri. It is said that when the body of Goddess Gauri got dirty due to
dust and earth while she was observing penance to attain Lord Shiva. So he cleansed her with the holy waters of Ganges. Her body transformed into bright
and luminous like lightening and so her eighth form is known as “Maha Gauri”
. Her clothes and ornaments are also white. Her visage is calm and peaceful and
she is three eyed. She rides on a bull. Her four hands denote different meanings, like the left hand is in the fearless gesture and the lower on holds a
trident. The above right hand has tambourine and lower right hand is in blessing style.
सिद्धिदात्री च दुर्गा)
सेव्यमाना सदा भूयात सिद्धिदा सिद्धिदायिनी||
The ninth avatars of Goddess Durga is Siddhidatri. There are eight Siddhis (Special powers which can only be attained from severe penance and meditation)-Anima,
Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva & Vashitva. Maha Shakti gives all these Siddhies. It is mentioned in the Devi Puran” that Lord Shiva got
all these Siddhis by worshipping Maha Shakti.
With her gratitude, Lord Shiva’s body also contains the Goddess and so he has
the form and name of Ardha Narishvar. Ardha means half. The goddess rides on a lion. The Siddhidatri form is worshipped by all gods, rishis, munis (Saints and
Sages), siddhas, yogis, sadhakas (Devotees) for attaining merit and boons of their severe penances.
The Navaratri symbolises the nine aspects of Durga-energy that act like a shield to ward off all negativities.
When you have obstacles and mental blocks, just remembering these qualities of the Devi can help you overcome the mental blocks.
During the nine nights of Navaratri, Devi is worshipped in all Her names and forms each of which has a special significance.
The first three days celebrate the Devi in the form of Durga. The goddess is depicted as riding a lion or tiger, alluding to the aspect of courage and valour, the essence of Devi Durga.
The second set of three days honour the Devi as Lakshmi. Goddess Laxmi (महा लक्ष्मी) is
the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Lakshmi is the energy that manifests as the complete spiritual and material well-being of a person.
The final three days are dedicated to Saraswati. Goddess
Saraswati (सरस्वती) is the goddess of knowledge. She gives the essence, the Sara of the Self,
Sva. She plays the veena, a musical instrument whose mellifluous notes
bring harmony and peace to the mind. Similarly, spiritual knowledge brings relaxation and celebration into life.
Saraswati is the ocean of understanding and the consciousness that vibrates with different types of learning.
She is the source of spiritual light, remover of all ignorance and the source of knowledge.
The ninth avatars of Goddess Durga is Siddhidatri.
Navratra begins with Ghat Staphna.
Red flowers such as rose or Kaner are offered to Goddess Durga during Puja.
Shankh Dhwani is an essential part of Goddess Puja.
Durga Puja celebration in India
In North India, the festival of Goddess Durga began after
'Kalash Sthapana', while in the western part of the country, especially in
Gujarat, the occasion is with Dandiya. In the eastern part of India, especially West Bengal is adorned like a new bride to celebrate
South Indians also display pictures of Goddess and toys at their homes
during the celebration. In Nashik city, the nine-day festival began with a grand puja at the famous hill temple of Goddess Saptshrungi.
in West Bengal
Ma Durga is
Mahishasuramardini, the destroyer of Mahisha. The word mahisha means buffalo, a symbol of lethargy and inertia. These are
the qualities that impede the spiritual and material progress of an individual. The Devi is a storehouse of positive energy and any trace of laziness or inertia dissolves in Her very
Durga Puja in West Bengal