The temples of Durga are found all over the world and Goddess Durga is venerated in different forms. Some of the well renowned temples of Durga in India include the Vaishno Devi temple, Chattarpur Mandir, Jwalamukhi Temple, Naina Devi Temple and Mahalakshmi temple.
The Vaishno Devi temple is located in a cave in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, India. The images of the deities Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati are located in this holy shrine. The Chattarpur Mandir is located in the Capital of Delhi, India and visited by Hindus in the area. The Jwalamukhi temple is located in the State of Himachal Pradesh and dedicated to the worship of other deities as well like Mahakali, Ambika, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Chandi and other Goddesses. The Naina Devi temple is located in Nainital and is also known as Mahishapitha. Mahalakshmi temple is considered the most sacred temples in Mumbai and enshrines Goddesses Lakshmi, Kali and Saraswati. Images of Durga are also found in other regions such as Indonesia, Cambodia and temples have also been built in other countries in North America and other countries.
The idol of Durga in the temples signifies the victory of ‘good’ over evil. The connotation of Durga may vary a little in different temples of India. One of the most popular idols of Durga is that of the Goddess, riding a lion and slaying the demon Mahisasura. The idol is also seen surrounded by her children Ganesha, Kartikeya, Saraswati and Lakshmi.
In other idols, the demon may be depicted in the form of a buffalo or half human, half buffalo form. Goddess Durga is seen armed with weapons like Shiva’s ‘trishul’, Vishnu’s ‘chakra’, sword and other weapons. The expression of Durga in all these ferocious depictions remains calm and serene. In South India images or idols of animals and musical instruments may also be included with the idol of Goddess Durga.
Although the temples of Durga are open for devotees all round the year, special celebrations brings thousands to these temples during Navratra, Durga Puja and Ayudha Puja in the South. The temples of Durga arrange festivities like bhajans and cultural programs during these times. In western India, Navratra is celebrated with Garba and Dandiya Raas and Puja is arranged on each of the nine days of Navratra.
In Northern India, Navratra is celebrated with a period of fasting for seven days, followed by Puja on the eight day (Ashtami) and ninth (Navami) days. The same enthusiasm is seen in South India where Goddess Durga is adorned and worshipped in temples as well as homes during this time.
In eastern India (including West Bengal) this festival is celebrated with much fervor. The idol of Durga is decorated in temples as well as in temporary booths (or ‘pandals’) on the street. The Goddess is worshipped for the nine days and immersed in water on the tenth day.