She epitomizes power. She lets you envision the victory over evil. She is the mother of the universe. We put her on the pedestal and worshipped her as the Supreme Being, since time immemorial.
The ten-armed warrior Goddess Durga protects us from all that is evil and rids our souls of all things hazardous. She eliminates our sufferings and removes our miseries. Goddess Durga is worshipped in different forms – nine to be precise – Navadurga. Ardent devotees pay their obeisance during Navratri – ‘nav’ meaning nine and ‘ratri’ meaning nights. Her nine appellations bear special significance. The nine names of the Goddess are underlined in ‘Devi Kavacha’ of the ‘Chandipatha’ scripture.
The Nine forms of Maa Durga:
Shailaputri – first among the Navadurgas, she is the embodiment of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The name literally translates into – daughter (putri) of mountains (shaila). This manifestation rides a bull and carries a trident & lotus in her hands.lotus in her hands.
Brahmacharini – she holds a rosary in one hand and a utensil in the other. Brahmacharini means – one who practices spiritual austerity. She personifies loyalty and love. She is the way to attain Moksha.
Chandra Ghanta – the third manifestation, she is worshipped for attaining peace & tranquility. She has a ‘chandra’ (moon) on her forehead in the shape of a ‘ghanta’ (bell) – the reason behind the name. She has ten hands and carries weapons. She is the advocate of bravery against demons.
Kushmanda – the fourth form; her name means – ‘Ku-shm-anda’, which translates to: Ku – little; ushma – warmth; anda – the cosmic egg. She is known to be the creator of the universe. Worshiping her eliminates sorrows; and, improves health.
Skanda Mata – the fifth facet is the mother of Skanda or Lord Kartikeya – the chosen commander-in-chief in the war against demons. On the fifth day of Navratri, she is worshipped along with the infant form of Lord Kartikeya.
Katyayani – legend has it, that a famous sage named Kata performed hard religious austerities in order to receive the grace of the Mother Goddess. He wished for a daughter and Katyayani was born to Kata as an incarnation of Goddess Durga. She rides a magnificent lion and is portrayed with four hands. She carries a lotus and a sword in her hands.
Kaal Ratri – also known as, ‘Shubhamkari’, this appellation of Goddess Durga rids us of fear & tribulations. Disheveled hair, dark complexion and fearlessness are some of the striking features of her appearance.
Maha Gauri – the eighth form is known to wash away all past sins and purify the souls. This form is rendered as fair complexioned. She carries a ‘trishul’ and a ‘damaru’ (two headed drum). Legend has it, she developed a dark complexion due to her long austerities in the deep forests of the Himalayas. She regained her beauty after Lord Shiva cleaned her with Ganges.
Siddhidatri – the ninth form is an enchantress; She has supernatural healing powers. It is due to her divine powers that Lord Shiva could attain the avatar of Ardhanarishvara (half body female & half body male) – an androgynous rendition of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati. Worshiping her with full devotion and dedication, devotees are blessed with all aspect of achievements in life; and nothing remains unattainable in the universe.