Goddess Durga, the invincible is the epitome of feminine power and Shakti. Maa Durga is worshipped for both her ferocious spirit to fight evil as well as her gracious nature. In Hinduism, Maa Durga is the wife of Lord Shiva and mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya. Her devotees celebrate her ‘homecoming’ and victory against the Asura (demon) Mahisasura during the time of Durga Puja held in the month of Aswin (end of September to Mid August)
Appearance of Goddess Durga
Goddess Durga has been revered for centuries, her appearance varying according to the age or period of worship. One of the most common images of Durga is viewed as having ten arms, each hand holding a different object. The most common objects include weapons like a sword, discus, bow and arrow, trident and spear. Maa Durga is also seen holding a conch, a lotus flower and a rosary. Goddess Durga is also seen riding a tiger or lion and dressed in red garments and adorned with ornaments adding to her magnificent personality. Since the birth of Maa Durga is associated with the slaying of the demon Mahisasura, she is also seen with the demon lying at her feet.
Significance of the image of Goddess Durga
All these weapons and objects have a distinct significance and associated with either her unlimited power or compassion towards her devotees. By killing the King of Asuras, Maa Goddesses promises her devotees that she will safeguard them from all evil.
It is also believed that Maa Durga was born out of the combined powers of the Gods and has the power to absolve the sufferings of humans. By praying to this form of ‘Shakti’, her devotees ask for mercy and forgiveness from all their sins and in return ask for the Goddess’ blessings and help in times of distress.
Goddess Durga is worshipped in all the States of India and by the Hindus living in other countries. Goddess Durga is worshipped in different forms such as Parvati, Kali, Maha Gauri, and Sati. Durga Puja is associated with the worship of the nine forms of Durga – Durga Shailputri (Daughter of Mountain), Brahmacharini or Uma, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri.
The nine days of worship in the month of Aswin is held with much devotion and gaiety and involves elaborate rituals, cultural functions and mass feeding. On the tenth day, the idol of Maa Durga is immersed in holy waters as a symbol of her leaving for Mount Kailash, where her husband Lord Shiva resides.