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In the Puranas and Agamas, endless aspects of Devi Durga are mentioned. She symbolises Creation, Preservation and Destruction of the three worlds and is usually depicted as having 8 arms which symbolise the extent of her protective powers from different directions, she is the personification of all male energy obtained from the Tridevas as well as the female force or Shakti that is the creative, dynamic and active energy of all existence. She has infinite power to protect from destructive forces.
Known as Mahishasurmardini, she is the combined creative energies of Consciousness. She is responsible for the entire Srushti or Cosmic creation.
It is believed, Goddess MahaKali, MahaLakshmi, MahaSaraswati, came together and fought the evil asuras who were planning to take up the whole universe. This battle went on for nine days and on the nineth day the good was finally able to defeat the bad force. The asuras were killed. Lord Shiva had given the Asuras, boon that only women could kill them and no man will be able to touch them. The Devas were not able to kill these Asuras because of this boon. Then the Devas went and requested lord Vishnu. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine beings, who offered her the required physical attributes and weapons to kill the demon "Mahishasur". she faught with the Asura & killed him after a battle that lasted nine long days. Since those days these nine days are celebrated to worship this strength. The goddess is requested to come to earth and remove all the evil from here.
The word "Durga" in Sanskrit means a fort, or a place which is difficult to over run. She is "Durgatinashini," the one who eliminates sufferings. She protects her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.
The Many Forms of Durga
There are many forms of Durga: Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, Rajeswari, etc. Her nine forms are Shailputri, Brhmacharini, Chandraghant, Kusumanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri.
Durga's Many Arms
Durga is depicted as having eight or ten hands. These represent eight quadrants or ten directions suggesting, she protects the devotees from all directions.
Durga's Three Eyes
Like Shiva, Mother Durga is also referred to as "Triyambake" meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).
Durga's Vehicle - the Lion
The lion represents power, will and determination. Mother Durga riding the lion symbolises her mastery over all these qualities. This suggests to the devotee that one has to possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego.
Durga's Many Weapons
The conch shell in Durga's hand symbolizes the 'Pranava' or the mystic word 'Om', which indicates her holding on to God in the form of sound.
The bow and arrows represent energy. By holding both the bow and arrows in one hand "Mother Durga" is indicating her control over both aspects of energy - potential and kinetic.
The thunderbolt signifies firmness. The devotee of Durga must be firm like thunderbolt in one's convictions. Like the thunderbolt that can break anything against which it strikes, without being affected itself, the devotee needs to attack a challenge without losing his confidence.
The lotus in Durga's hand is not in fully bloomed, It symbolizing certainty of success but not finality. The lotus in Sanskrit is called "pankaja" which means born of mud. Thus, lotus stands for the continuous evolution of the spiritual quality of devotees amidst the worldly mud of lust and greed.
The "Sudarshan-Chakra" or beautiful discus, which spins around the index finger of the Goddess, while not touching it, signifies that the entire world is subservient to the will of Durga and is at her command. She uses this unfailing weapon to destroy evil and produce an environment conducive to the growth of righteousness.
The sword that Durga holds in one of her hands symbolizes knowledge, which has the sharpness of a sword. Knowledge which is free from all doubts, is symbolized by the shine of the sword.
Durga's trident or "trishul" is a symbol of three qualities - Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (non-activity) - and she is remover of all the three types of miseries - physical, mental and spiritual.
Devi Durga stands on a lion in a fearless pose of "Abhay Mudra", signifying assurance of freedom from fear. The universal mother seems to be saying to all her devotees: "Surrender all actions and duties onto me and I shall release thee from all fears".
Four Devi Navratra Festivals:
Sharad Navratri is one of the major festival celebrated in month of Ashwin. All four Navratras, Ashwin Navratri, Vasant Navratra, Ashad Navratri and Magh Navratra are dedicated to the Mother Goddess Shakti. During every Navratri festival, one thing is similar that Goddess Durga (Navdurga) is worshipped for nine days in her nine forms or manifestations, each day a new avatar.During Navaratri every year, we meditate upon Devi Durga & invoke her power to destroy all evil tendencies in the mind, that may have the qualities of Tamas or inertia, ignorance & darkness so to lead us towards enlightenment. Three important aspects of life ' the power of courage, wealth and knowledge ' are asked from the Mother Goddess.
Why Worship the Mother Goddess?
Energy is only a form of the Divine Mother, who is the mother of all, and all of us are her children. "Why mother; why not father? "We believe that God's glory, his cosmic energy, his greatness and supremacy can best be depicted as the motherhood aspect of God. Just as a child finds all these qualities in his or her mother, similarly, all of us look upon God as mother. In fact, Hinduism is the only religion in the world, which gives so much importance to the mother aspect of God because we believe that mother is the creative aspect of the absolute.
We believe that the divine power that provides energy for the Earth to move around the sun, causing the changes in the outer nature and that this divine power must be thanked for maintaining the correct balance of the universe. Due to the changes in the nature, the bodies and minds of people undergo a considerable change, and hence, we worship the divine power to bestow upon all of us enough potent powers to maintain our physical and mental strength.
People in western India, especially in Gujarat, spend the nine nights of Navratri in song, dance and merriment. Garba is a graceful form of dance, wherein women dressed in exquisitely embroidered choli, ghagra and bandhani dupattas, dance gracefully in circles around a pot containing a lamp, called "Garba" or "Garbha" means "womb", and in this context the lamp in the pot, symbolically represent life within a womb.
The word Garbo or Garaba has originated from Sanskrit word "Garbhdeep"- an earthen pot with circular holes is popularly known as Garbo. The earthen pot is symbol of human body and the lighten lamp inside signifies the divine soul.
Besides the Garba is the "Dandia" dance, in which men and women participate in pairs with small, decorated bamboo sticks called dandias in their hands. At the end of these dandias are tied tiny bells called ghungroos that make a jingling sound when the sticks hit one another. The dance has a complex rhythm. The dancers begin with a slow tempo, and go into frenzied movements, in such a manner that each person in a circle not only performs a solo dance with his own sticks, but also strikes his partners dandies in
Durga Puja: In Eastern India mainly in
Vijayadashmi or Dashera
Dashera, as the name suggests occurs on the "tenth" day following the Navratri. It is a festival to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and marks the defeat and death of the demon king Ravana by Lord Ram in the epic Ramayana. Huge effigies of Ravana are burnt amongst the burning of fire crackers.
It is believed that Lord Ram had to pray to the nine different aspects of Devi to be able to kill Ravana. He then accumulated enough power to kill Ravana on the tenth day, which was called Vijayadashmi or Dashera. Since then, the tradition of praying to Devi for nine days has continued. The nine days therefore are celebrated in honour of victory of good over evil.
Vijaya Dashami is also called as Aparajita Dashami and on this day Aparajita puja and Shami Puja are performed.
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