Devi Durga in Hinduism is worshiped in different forms and considered a form of Shakti. There are different reincarnations of Durga include Shakti, Kali, Gauri, Uma, Parvati, Chandi, Ambika, Lalita, Bhavani, Bhagvati, Java, Rajeshwari and other forms. The name “Durga” means the ‘invincible’ in Sanskrit. Devi Durga symbolizes freedom from all evils. The word Durga embodies freedom from all evils like injustice, cruelty, hatred, ego and other forms of pain and suffering. All the forms of Durga are worshipped in India.
The legend goes that Durga was created by the Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to fight the demon Mahisasura, who could not be defeated by either man or God and was continually reigning terror on man and God alike. By killing the demon, Durga freed the world from the demon’s tyranny and has been known as the destroyer of evil since. Durga is popularly depicted as a Goddess wearing red clothes, with ten arms and armed with weapons and a lotus flower and riding a lion or tiger. The red clothes signify fierceness in fighting evil, and the arms suggest that the Devi Durga protects her devotee from all directions.
The weapons held by Durga are given to her by each of the Gods and symbolize the culmination of all the divine powers in her – Shiva’s trident or ’trishul’, Vishnu’s discus or ‘Sudarshana chakra’, Brahma’s Kamandalu, Indra’s thunderbolt, Kuber’s Ratnahar and other weapons given by different Gods. This also suggested that Durga possesses all the weapons necessary to fight evil. The lotus in Durga’s hand is known as ‘pankaja’ and symbolizes the evolution of spirituality among the evils prevalent in this world. Goddess Durga also holds a conch in one of her hands which is known to produce the sound of ‘Om’, which is equivalent to the sound of God in Hinduism. The lion or tiger represents complete power and determination implying that these virtues are required to obtain victory over evil.
Goddess Durga has been worshipped for time immemorial with mention in certain scriptures like the Vedas. Durga Puja is a festival during which Goddess Durga is worshiped. This festival is very popular in the States of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Nepal, although the victory of Durga over Mahisasura is also celebrated in other States of India as well. During this festival Goddess Durga is worshipped as the mother of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya.