Maa Durga is the embodiment of ‘Shakti’, a culmination of the powers vested in the Hindu Gods. In Hinduism, worship of Durga has been associated with the annihilation of evil powers and rise above the negative energies associated with the anger, greed, lust, egoism and pride.
Goddess Durga, also known as Parvati is the consort of Lord Shiva. It is said that the Goddess Shakti takes on different forms such as Kali, Chandi or Durga to fight the demons. She is the power behind all creation, preservation and destruction in the Universe. Goddess Durga has been worshipped as the supreme power of God (Shakti) for time immemorial with special mention in scriptures such as the Yajur Veda, Vajasaneyi Samhita and Taittareya Brahman.
‘Durga’ is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning the ‘invincible’. Literally translated, Durga means a fort that is difficult to overcome. A more elaborate meaning of Durga is ‘du’-‘r’-‘ga’ or the destroyer of all evils and diseases.
The worship of Maa Durga is done twice a year for 9 days known as ‘Navratra’, once during the summer (Chaitra Navratra) and once during the winter (Sharad Navratra), the latter being more popular and known as ‘Durga Puja’ is several States of India. During these festivals Durga is invoked in different forms Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Praying to the form of Durga destroys all evils and vices inside use, praying to the form Lakshmi is associated with the gain of spiritual wealth and divine qualities and calling upon the form of Saraswati gives the knowledge which liberates us from all evil and negativities.
The forms of Durga may be depicted as being ferocious and loving at the same time, the source of power (Shakti) is one. The birth of Durga is associated with the slaying of the demon Mahisasura, the Lord of the Asuras (demons).
According to Hindu mythology, Mahisasura, armed with his knowledge and power defeated the Gods and became the Lord of Heaven. The tale of his atrocities compelled the Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva to create ‘Shakti’ in the form of Maa Durga to destroy Mahisasura. The Lord of the Asuras who was destined to be undefeated by man or God was forced to bow down before Maa Durga. The power of the divine Goddess Durga was no match for the demon and after 10 days of fighting the Goddess ended all the evil in the world by cutting off Mahisasura’s head. This event is celebrated in the form of ‘VijayaDashami’, the victory of the soul.