In Hinduism, Goddess Durga is known as shakti and sometimes referred to as Durgatinashini, which literally means “the one who removes all kinds of pains and sufferings”. According to mythology, Durga was created by gods by pooling their spiritual powers together as they wanted to create ‘shakti’ that could destroy Mahisasur, demon. Goddess Durga is the manifestation of the supreme divine energy born out of the fire or light and is also known as demon slayer (killer). In addition, she is the divine force of positive energy which acts as a prime factor in neutralizing the negative energy so as to build peace in the universe. And goddess Durga as a vedic deity of spiritual consciousness also symbolises cosmic intelligence which relates to inner guidance, divine light, and knowledge to clear our conscience from the darkness of illusion. Dashain is the most notable festival in the honour and glory of Goddess Durga. Worshiping Goddess Durga holds a moral significance about the might of evil force, that it is bound to end sooner or later. Worshipping Goddess Durga is believed to have many positive impacts on devotees’ lives. Hindus celebrate her victory over evils with devotional prayers and spiritual readings, decorations with Durga’s images at homes and temples and dramatic events that show Durga’s legend. Goddess Durga also stands for cosmic intelligence and purity. It is strongly believed that her devotees who pray selflessly during this festival will attain salvation. Moreover, Goddess Durga grants blissful prosperity to her devotees in both spiritual and materialistic perspectives. Durga is also symbolized as a divine formation of Mahakali, Laxmi and Saraswati. Along with Durga, prime deities such as Saraswati, Laxmi and Kartikeya are also worshipped during this festival. Goddess Durga protects her devotees from evils and miseries by eliminating negative or evil forces such as hatred, jealousy, greediness, anger, ego, selfishness. Devotees who observe a fast during this festival get the divine favour of Goddess Durga which means fulfilment of wishes. Worshiping Goddess Durga is a symbolic gesture of courage, teaching us to stand fearlessly at the time of hardship because the evil course of every problem will ultimately come to an end which was proven when goddess Durga destroyed demon Mahisasur. At Dashain festival, goddess Durga’s nine forms are worshipped. The victory of Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasur is celebrated as a nine-day-long festival known as navaratri. For Hindus, Goddess Durga is a very special deity and she appears in nine different forms, each of which is characterized with unique powers and qualities. Together, these nine manifestations are called Navadurga. Hindus strongly believe that worshipping Durga with true devotion will awake the divine spirit in pure spiritual realm, that is filled with ecstasy and unconditional love. The first form of Durga is Shailaputri also known as Sati Bhavani, Parvati or Hemavati. She is the daughter of Himalaya and considered to be the mother of nature. It is believed that she blesses her devotees with beauty, love and peace. On the second day of Navaratri, Hindus worship Brahmacharini. It is considered that she blesses her devotees with emancipation. The third manifestation of Durga is Chandraghanta. She stands for peace and prosperity in life. She is always ready to battle evil from every front and provides safety to her devotees from all kinds of troubles. Kushmanda is the fourth form of Goddess Durga. Her name signifies the creator of the universe. It is believed and trusted that she is the one who brought light to the dark universe. She rides a lion which symbolizes courage and strength in the time of difficulties. The fifth form of Goddess Durga is Skandamata. She is the mother of Kartikeya. She blesses Hindus who are faithful and determined towards positive transformation of lives. Katyayani is worshipped on the sixth day of navaratri. She emits a radiant light from her body from which darkness and negative energies cannot hide. It is believed that she can bestow a sense of calm and inner peace to her devotees. She also rides a lion at all time and ready to confront evils. On the seventh day of navaratri, Hindus worship Kalaratri. She is fearsome-looking deity having frazzled hair, four arms and three eyes. She is worshipped as a protector from all kinds of fears. Mahagauri is worshipped on the eighth day of navaratri. Hindus consider that by paying true devotion to her, all past, present and future sins will be eliminated. She blesses her devotees with inner peace. The final form of Durga is Siddhidatri. It is believed that she grants knowledge and wisdom to her devotees. Vijaya Dashami is the tenth day of the festival. It is the end of the festival and often considered as the victory of good over evil. It is the day on which Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. This day is also symbolic of the end of Mahishasur, the king of demons who was killed by Goddess Durga. This day also marks the victory of Pandavas over the Kauravas in Mahabharata and the end of their exile. According to mythology, this day is also known as the journey of Goddess Durga back to her place, Kailash, after ten days’ stay at her parents’ house, that is, on planet earth. Hindus believwe that every year she visits her parental house (earth) along with her four children - Laxmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya.
The author is a Lecturer of English at Orchid International College