The Nine Manifestations of Durga
Goddess Durga is worshipped in nine forms, called Nav Durga. Devotes of Maa Durga believe that if they worship these nine appellations during the holy month of Aswin, they will be granted with the blessings of the Goddess and can ward off all their worries.
The nine forms of Durga are Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kusumanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Maha Gauri, and Siddidatri. Each of these forms of Durga is addressed during the Puja and a fast may be observed in all the nine days of ‘Navratri’.
Shailiputri means the ‘daughter of the mountains is considered to be one of the first incarnations of Durga. In this form the Goddess is seen riding a bull and carrying a ‘trishul’(trident) and lotus in her hands.
Brahmacharini is the form worshipped on the second day of navratri and means the one who practices true penance and austerity. In this image of Durga she is in a divine form with a rosary and water utensil in her hands.
Chandraghanta is the third form of Durga who symbolizes peace and prosperity. Her image displays a half-moon sign in her forehead, resembling a bell. In this image the Goddess is seen riding a lion and with ten hands, holding weapons as a Lotus flower.
Kusumanda is the fourth appellation of the Goddess and considered the creator of the universe. It is believed that unless the Goddess spreads her divine light, there will be all darkness in the World we live. In this image, the Goddess is depicted with ten hands and riding a lion, just as earlier.
Skanda Mata or the mother of Kartikeya is the fifth form of the Goddess and is form seen carrying her infant son with her. In this image, the Goddess is seen atop a lotus and has four arms and three eyes, the third in the center of the forehead.
Katyayani is the form of the Goddess worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri and is known as the daughter of Kata, the sage.
Kaalratri is the seventh appellation and the most ferocious form of Durga. In this ferocious form, the Goddess is depicted with a dark complexion and having a disheveled appearance and if in fury. She has three eyes and adorns a garland of lightning. Although this form shows aggression, this is an assurance to her devotees that they will be protected from all evils and negativities.
Maha Gauri is the eighth form and portrays peace and purity. It is believed that praying to Maha Gauri cleanses her devotees of all sins. In this image, the Goddess is seen riding a bull and holding a trishul (trident) and a ‘damaru’ (small drum). Her right hand seems raised as if granting a boon to her devotees.
Siddidatri is the ninth form of Durga and the most blissful form of the Goddess. In this image she is seen blessing all her devotees and assumes clam and enchanting pose.