Durga – the bewitching, radiant ten-armed goddess. The benevolent mother of beings and the ravaging destroyer of evil. The one, who with her arrival, heralds peace and happiness into the realm of mortals. Durga, who is worshipped as a goddess, revered as a mother, and feared as the embodiment of anger. The ten-armed Goddess Durga was created as an amalgam of the powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar to defeat the water-buffalo demon Mahisasur. While in the northern part of the country the goddess is worshipped in a more effeminate avatar, in the eastern and the southern parts, she is invoked more as the warrior-goddess – the destroyer of evil. As the year proceeds towards those nine days when people immerse themselves in welcoming Durga to the earth, here’s a stroll down the nine forms of the goddess…
Shailputri, as the Sanskrit name states, is the daughter of the Mountains. First among the nine forms of Durga, Shailputri is worshipped as the absolute form of Mother Nature. During the festival of Navratra, the goddess is portrayed with a half-moon on her forehead, a trident in her right hand and a lotus in her left hand, and riding on the back of a bull. The first day of Navratra is marked for the worship of Shailputri.
The ‘gorgeous’ form of Durga, the idol of Brahmacharini is presented to her worshippers with a Kamandalu in her left hand and rosary in her right hand. Brahmacharini is worshipped on the second day of Navratra and is most known as a personification of love and loyalty.
The third day of Navratra is the day when the Chandraghanta form of Durga is worshipped. Adorned with the crescent moon on her head, Chandraghanta is the one who is responsible for the establishment of justice and dharma in the world.
The manifestation of Durga, called Kushmanda, is worshipped on the fourth day of Navratra. It is believed that it is this form of Durga which eliminated darkness from the world with her smile. And hence, every idol of the goddess in this form has a benevolent smile on her face.
Accompanied by an infant form of Lord Skanda, Skanda Mata is the form of Durga that is worshipped on the fifth day of Navratra. The goddess is depicted with four arms and three eyes in popular art, and is presented as seated on a lotus.
The sixth day of Navratra is dedicated to Katyayani, the sixth form of Durga. Katyayani was born to Sage Katya of the Katya clan, and hence her name reiterates that same fact. The epitome of love and anger, the idols of Katyayani are portrayed as ones with four arms and three eyes, and mounted on a lion.
Famous in ancient Hindu literature as the most violent form of Goddess Durga, Kalratri is worshipped on the seventh day of Navratra. This form of the goddess is one that evokes fear in the minds of the devotees. Kalratri is believed to be the destroyer of all demoniacal powers, i.e., kaal.
Intelligent, peaceful and calm, this form of Durga is diametrically opposite to what Kalratri is. Maha Gauri is worshipped on the eighth day of Navratri. The ‘extremely white’ goddess is depicted in idols as such and is shown as wearing white clothes, mounted on a bull.
The ninth day of Navratri is spent in worshipping Shiddhidatri, that form of Durga who is known for her wish-fulfilling capabilities. The goddess is believed to possess several kinds of healing powers. Shiddhidatri is shown as riding a lion.