According to the Hindu religion Goddess Durga is worshipped as the essence of Shakti or Divine power and considered as the shielding mother of the universe. The Goddess is also known as Dashabhuja because of her ten hands, Goddess Durga is said to have killed the demon king Mahishasura and prevailed good over the evils in the world.
Names and their Meaning
The word Durga in Sanskrit means “a Castle” or a place which is hard to be swamped symbolising an epitome of courage and valour. .Among her many names, Goddess Durga is also known as “Durgotinashini” which literally means “one who reduces all the pain and sufferings".
Her Many Forms
In Hindu mythology, most gods and goddesses have innumerable incarnations, which prove that the divine deities can appear in the world in different forms at different period of time. Goddess Durga too have appeared in the form Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, and Rajeswari.
When Goddess appears as Durga , she manifests in one of nine forms of Skondamata, Kusumanda, Shailaputri, Kaalratri, Brahmacharini, Maha Gauri, Katyayani, Chandraghanta, and Siddhidatri. All of them is Collectively known as the Navadurga.
Symbolising the power of a protector of this world, Goddess Durga is empowered with 10 hands holding different protective weapons to defend against evils from all directions.
Lord Shiva also known as Triyambake (the one with three eyes) is believed to be Goddess Durga’s Spouse. Like her Spouse, Goddess Durga too is believed to have three eyes according to the Hindu religious beliefs.
The weapons that Goddess Durga carries in each of her hands, have different meanings each symbolising , power, courage and valour to defeat the evils and establish good over evil in the world.
The conch shell symbolizes the Pranava or the mystic word "Om", which indicates her holding on to God in the form of sound.
The bow and arrows depicts her energy. By being able to hold both the bow and arrow with a single hand , Goddess displays her firm control over both potential and kinetic energy.
The Thunderbolts signifies Firmness of the Goddess in her convictions. Just as one strong lighting can cause devastation similarly Goddess Durga too stands as a symbol of courage to all her worshipper to fight all their difficulties with great courage ad determination.
The half bloom Lotus flower which the Goddess holds in her hand represents the certainty of success but not finality, In Sanskrit the lotus is known as “Pankaj” which mean “Born in the mud” , the Lotus Flower reminds the worshippers of the Goddess not to be swayed away from the spiritual quest amidst the various worldly pleasure.
The Sudarshan Chakra or the spinning wheel which the Goddess spins around her index finger that signifies the myth of the Goddess Durga , which makes the world submit to her will and command. This weapon of her is used to destroy evil and creat a righteous environment in the world.
The sword in the hands of the Goddess is a symbol of knowledge, which is as sharp as the sword and true .
The trident or Trishul depicts the three qualities of Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity), and Tamas (nonactivity). Goddess makes use of this tool to relieve physical, mental, and spiritual suffering.
According to Hindu art and architecture, Goddess Durga is usally symbolised standing atop or riding a tiger or lion, which represents her power, will, and determination. Like her bold pose also called Abhay Mudra, (freedom from fear) , Goddess Durga spreads the message to all her worshippers to remain true to one self and fight all difficult situations in life boldly and courageously without any fear.
Although, the preparations and festive mood for Durga Puja begins from months ahead but the actual celebration of Durga Puja beings either in the month of September or October according to the Hindu traditional calendar. The festivities last for four days starting with Sasthi or the Sixth day of the arrival of the Goddess on earth and ending with Dashmi or Tenth day when the Goddess is given a warm send off to her heavenly abode.