|Goddess of Victory of Good over Evil|
|Affiliation||Devi, Divine Mother|
Om Hrim Durgayei NamahaOm Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayei Bichhe
|Weapon||Trishula (trident), Chakram (rotating discuss),
Conch shell, Mace,
Bow, Talwar (long sword),
Durga (Hindustani pronunciation: [d̪uːrgaː]; Sanskrit: दुर्गा); meaning "the inaccessible" or "the invincible"; durga) is a popular fierce form of the Hindu Goddess or Devi. She is depicted with multiple (variously,from ten up to thousand) arms, carrying various weapons and riding a ferocious lion. She is often pictured as battling or slaying demons, particularly Mahishasura, the buffalo demon.
For the Goddess-worshipping Shaktas, Durga is sometimes equated with Mahadevi, the Supreme Goddess. Her triumph as Mahishasura Mardini, Slayer of the buffalo Demon is a central episode of the scripture Devi Mahatmya. Her victory is celebrated annually in the festivals of Navaratri and Durga Puja.
Durga's feminine power contains the combined energies of all the gods. Each of her weapons was given to her by a different god: Rudra's trishula (trident), Vishnu's Sudarshana Chakra (whirling, sharp edged discus), Indra's thunderbolt, Brahma's kamandalu (water pot), Kubera's gadā (mace), etc.
In Jain Texts, she is referred to as Durga or Kushmaandi devi and is the yakshini of 22nd tirthankar of Lord Neminath or Arishtanemi.
According to a narrative in the Devi Mahatmya story of the Markandeya Purana text, Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight an asura (an inhuman force/demon) named Mahishasura. Brahma, the Supreme Creator had given Mahishāsura (an ambitious demon who had observed penance)the power not to be defeated by a male or any God. Mahishasura, thus misleading his powers, unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds. He created cosmic disruption and defeated The Gods of Sun, Fire, Earth, Thunder and all other Nature Gods. Shiva asked Parvati to slay the demon via the powers the gods will give her in the near future. All the while, the Gods felt helpless and went to Brahma, the Creator for help and, with Brahma, then made their way to Vaikuntha—the place where Sri Bhagwaan Vishnu, the cosmic "Man" lay on Ananta Naag. They found Vishnu and Shiva, the Supreme destroyer and re-creator, discussing the reign of terror of Mahishāsur. Shiva, made a request to all Gods to combine their Divine Energies together.Thus, to save the 3 worlds, Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and all of the Gods (Indra, Varuna, Surya, Agni, Yama, Vishwakarma etc.) emitted beams of fierce Divine Energy from their Bodies. The blinding sea of light spread in all directions of the universe like a supernova and reached the Ashram of the priest Kātyāyan and was absorbed by Parvati (who was blessing Kātyāyan through her darshan). Parvati came out of the light as the omnipotent Goddess Durga. The Goddess Durga took the name Kaatyaayani from the priest, in whose ashram she appeared thus. She introduced herself in the language of the Rig-Veda, saying She was the Female aspect(swarup) of the Supreme Brahman (Godhead). Now she had come from their combined energy to fight the demon to save the gods. They did not create her; it was her lila that she emerged thus. The gods were blessed with her compassion.
To combat the evil Mahishasura, she had appeared in a gigantic blinding light that pervaded the skies and covered all the worlds. When Mahishasura challenged Her, Durga, the supreme cosmic energy, roared with laughter, which caused an earthquake which made Mahishasura aware of her powers. The goons and accomplices of Mahishasura attacked Her from all directions, hurling weapons at Her. However, the all-powerful Goddess, armed with lethal weapons of death, proved to be too powerful and severed their weapons along with their heads with Her lethal cosmic weapons. The Goddess thus 'cut' Her way through the army, stunning them with Her fierce light, hurling weapons on the demons, thus severing their bodies. She breathed an army of Divine warriors, who severed the heads of the demons and danced in fury.
Despite that, the terrible Mahishasura rampaged against the Goddess, changing forms many times. At first, he was a buffalo demon, and She defeated him with Her sword. Then he changed forms and became an elephant that tied up the Goddess's vehicle, the mighty and gigantic lion, and began to pull it towards him. The Goddess cut off his trunk with her sword. The omnipotent goddess proclaimed to Mahishasura in a colourful tone —"Roar with delight while you still can, O illiterate demon, because when I will kill you, the Gods themselves will roar with delight."[Devi-Mahatmya] When Mahishasur had half-emerged into his buffalo form, he was paralyzed by the extreme light emitted from the Goddess's body. The Goddess overpowered him with Her mighty trident and then resounded with laughter before cutting Mahishasur's head down with her sword. Durga slew Mahishasur and his accomplices, but actually freed them of their karmic debts and cleansed them of their sins, so that their souls could attain peace- that is the power of Goddess Durga. Hence, Mata Durga is also known as Mahishasurmardini—the slayer of Mahishasur.
The goddess, as Mahishasuramardini, appears quite early in Indian art. The Archaeological Museum in Mathura has several statues on display including a 6-armed Kushana period Mahisasuramardhini that depicts her pressing down the buffalo with her lower hands. A Nagar plaque from the first century BC – first century AD depicts a four-armed Mahishamardhini accompanied by a lion. But it is in the Gupta period that we see the finest representations of Mahishasuramardhini (2-, 4-, 6-, and at Udayagiri, 12-armed). The spear and trident are her most common weapons. A Mamallapuram relief shows the goddess with eight arms riding her lion subduing a buffalo-faced demon (as contrasted with a buffalo demon); a variation also seen at Ellora. In later sculptures (post-seventh century), sculptures show the goddess having decapitated the buffalo demon.
The 16 names of Durga or SRI DURGA SHODASHANAMAVALI according to Brahmavaivarta purana given by Lord Narayana Himself reciting which the four purusharthas can be obtained along with the grace of the goddess. These holy names of the great goddess were revealed by Lord Vishnu Himself and are very powerful when recited on the tritriya day or on Fridays and mitigate all the sufferings of the devotees. Devi Durga’s sixteen names viz. Durga, Narayani, Ishaana, Vishnu Maya, Shiva, Sati, Nitya, Satya, Bhagavati, Saavarni, Sarva Mangala, Ambika, Vaishnavi, Gauri, Parvati and Sanatani. Bhagavan Vishnu annotated the above names:
1) In the word Durga "Durg" means any ostacles/vighnas in spiritual or material life and the shabda ‘aa’ stands for ‘hanta’or demolisher; in other words Durga demolishes Daityas, Maha Vighna, Bhava bandhana, Karma, Shoka, Duhkha, Naraka, Janma / birth, Yamadanda, Maha Bhaya and Atyanta Roga or extreme illnesses.
2)Narayani denotes kirti (fame), teja (radiance), rupa (excellent Form) and guna (characteristics)of The supreme Narayana.
3)Ishaana is Ishaan + ‘aa’; Ishaan indicates ‘Siddhis’and ‘aa’ stands for ‘Provider’.
4)Vishnu Maya refers to the Thick Cover of Maya or illusion created by Bhagavan Vishnu at the time of Creation of the Universe.
5) Shiv+ aa refers to Durga who is bestower of Shiv / ‘Kalyana’or propitiousness. Also she is the consort of Lord Shiva.
6)Sati denotes the Better Half/wife of Lord Shiva, Pativrata or the chaste wife and the epitome of Sadbuddhi / excellent outlook.
7) Durga is Nitya or Everlasting supersoul which resides in the hearts of all living beings as ‘paramatma’.
8)Satya is the the Everlasting Truth.
9)Bhagavati denotes the one who is the emblem Bhaga (blessing).Durga can bestow any blessing including the supreme moksha or liberation.
10)Saavarni means the one who provides uniform qualities to all living beings in Srishti from Brahma downward.
11)Sarva Mangala is theEmbodient of Priopitiousness or auspiciousness.
12)Durga is Ambika or the Universal Mother.
13)Vaishnavi is the Shakti or power of Lord Vishnu.
14)Durga is Gauri as she has Goura Varna or the white radiance; also she possesses Parama Shakti; Shiva is her Guru as well as Shri Krishna.
15)She is Parvati or Parvata Raja Putri and the Adhishtaana Devata of ‘Parva’/Festivities. Parvati not only means daughter of parvatas or mountains but being the supreme source of all shaktis it is Parvati who is worshipped during festivals or parvas for any other goddess. Since all goddesses have their origin from parvati if we worship any goddess we are indirectly worshipping parvati or durga.
16)Sanatani denotes ‘Sanaa’ or Sarvada and ‘tani’ or Vidyamaan or the eternal one.
The four-day-long (Saptami to Dashami) Durga Puja is the biggest annual festival in Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Nepal, where it is known as Dashain. It is celebrated likewise with much fervour in various parts of India, especially the Himalayan region, but is celebrated in various forms throughout the Hindu universe.
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In Kashmir she is worshipped as shaarika (the main temple is in Hari Parbat in Srinagar).
The actual period of the worship however may be on the preceding nine days (Navaratri) followed by the last day called Vijayadashami in North India or five days in Bengal (from the sixth to tenth day of the waxing-moon fortnight). Nine aspects of Durga known as Navadurga are meditated upon, one by one during the nine-day festival by devout Shakti worshippers. In South India especially Andhra Pradesh Dussera Navaratri is also celebrated and the goddess is dressed each day as a different devi like Saraswati, Parvati, Laksmi etc. for the nine days.
In North India, the tenth day, is celebrated as Dussehra, the day Rama emerged victorious in his battle against the demon, Ravana - gigantic straw effigies of Ravana are burnt in designated open spaces (e.g. Delhi's Ram Lila grounds), watched by thousands of families and little children.
In Maharashtra, Tulja Bhavani and Ambabai are worshipped as Mahishasur Mardini, who is the patron goddess of the land. Bhavani is known as Tulaja, Amba, Renuka, Yamai Saptshrungi and Jogai in different places of Maharashtra. She is the inspirational goddess of Raja Shivaji. As per legends, Bhavani appeared after Shivaji prayed to her and blessed him to be able to make Hindustan or the then India (ruled by the Mughals) independent - the kingdom he established eventually became the Maratha Empire, which comprised all the land ruled by the Mughals.
In Bangladesh also, the four-day long Sharadiya Durga Puja (Bengali: শারদীয়া দুর্গা পুজো, ‘autumnal Durga worship’) is the biggest religious festivals for the Hindus and celebrated across the country with Vijayadashami being a national holiday.
Western references 
Some early Western accounts refer to a deity known as Deumus, Demus or Deumo. Western (Portuguese) sailors first came face to face with the murti of Deumus at Calicut on the Malabar Coast and they concluded it to be the deity of Calicut. Deumus is sometimes interpreted as an aspect of Durga in Hindu mythology and sometimes as deva.
It is described that the ruler of Calicut (Zamorin) had a murti of Deumus in his temple inside his royal palace. The temple was two paces wide in each of the four sides and three paces high, with a wooden door covered with gods carved in relief. At the centre of the temple, there was a metal idol of Deumus placed in a seat, which was also made of metal.
Western accounts also describe the ruler of Calicut worshiping an ultimate god called Tamerani ("Tamburan"). The accounts also describes a misunderstood form of the "hook-swinging" ritual once commonly performed as part of some popular Hindu religious festivals.
Notable temples of Durga 
- Adichikkavu Sree Durga Devi Kshetram, Pandanad, Kerala
- Ambika Mata Temple in the village of Jagat near Mount Abu in Rajasthan, India.
- Ammathiruvadi Temple, Thrissur, Kerala, India
- Bahu Fort Temple in Jammu
- Bala Sundari Temple Trilokpur in District Sirmaur Himachal Pradesh
- Bala Sundri Temple in Billawar Jammu
- Belur Math, Kolkata, West Bengal
- Bhairabi Devalaya, in Tezpur, Assam
- Biraja Temple, Jajpur, Odisha
- Chamundeshwari Temple, Mysore Karnataka
- ChiChi Mata Temple in Jammu
- Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata, West Bengal
- Dhakeshwari Temple in Dhaka, Bangladesh
- Durga Temple, Baideshwar. Odisha
- Kalighat, Kolkata, West Bengal
- Kalka Mandir, near Nehru Place, New Delhi.
- Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam
- Kanak Durga Temple, Chikligarh, Medinipur, West Bengal
- Kanaka Durga Temple, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh
- Katak Chandi Temple, Cuttack, Odisha
- Kateel Durgaparameshwari Temple, near Mangalore, Karnataka
- Kichakeshwari Temple, Odisha
- Kol Kandoli Temple in Jammu
- Kollur Sri mookambika Temple, near Udupi, Karnataka
- Mahamaya Temple in Jammu
- Manikeshwari Temple, Bhawanipatna, Odisha.
- Matrimandir in the city of Auroville, Tamil Nadu
- Nava Durga Temple, Kolkata, West Bengal
- Prambanan Temple, Indonesia
- Shanta Durga temple in Goa
- Shila Devi temple at Amber Jaipur Rajasthan
- Shitla Mata temple at Gurgaon Haryana
- Shitla Mata temple at Patna Bihar
- Shoolini devi temple at Solan Himachal Pradesh
- Sri Parashakthi Temple, Madyar, in Mangalore, Karnataka
- Sri Santha Durga Devi Army Camp in Sungai Petani, Malaysia
- Sukrala Mata Temple in Jammu
- Tarakeswar, Hooghly District, West Bengal
- Tarapith, Birbhum, West Bengal
- Tulja Bhavani Temple, in Tuljapur, Maharashtra, India
- Udaipur, Tripura
- Vaishno Devi Temple in Katra Jammu
- Vindhyachal temple near Varanasi
- Vengoor Temple near Perumbavoor- Kerala.
See also 
- "Durga, [[Gujarati language|Gujarati]]: અમબે ગોરી[[Category:Articles containing Gujarati language text]],[[Punjabi language|Punjabi]]: ਸ਼ੇਰਾਂ ਵਾਲੀ[[Category:Articles containing Punjabi language text]],([[Bengali language|Bengali]]: দুর্গা )". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved October 7, 2009. Wikilink embedded in URL title (help)
- "Article on Durga About.com Hinduism". Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- BBC television documentary Divine Women written and presented by Bettany Hughes, episode 1 When God Was A Girl, broadcast 2012-04-11, shows Durga depicted in statues of her made by her devotees for the annual festival in her honour in Kolkata in 2011, and the statues had ten arms.
- R. C. Agrawala, "The Goddess Mahisasuramardini in Early Indian Art", Artibus Asiae, Vol. 21, No. 2 (1958), pp. 123-130
- Esposito, John L.; Darrell J. Fasching, Todd Vernon Lewis (2007). Religion & globalization: world religions in historical perspective. Oxford University Press. p. 341. ISBN 0-19-517695-2.
- Jörg Breu d. Ä. zugeschrieben, Idol von Calicut, in: Ludovico de Varthema, 'Die Ritterlich und lobwürdig Reisz', Strassburg 1516. (Bild: Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
- A briefe collection and compendious extract of straunge and memorable thinges, gathered out of the Cosmographye of Sebastian Munster, wherein is made a plaine description of diuers and straunge lawes, rites, maners and properties of sondrye nations, and a short report of straunge histories of diuers men, and of the nature and properties of certaine fovvles, fishes, beastes, monsters, and sondry countryes and places, published in London in 1574 by Tomas Marshe
Further reading 
- Durga Puja: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Sudeshna Banerjee, Rupa and Co, Calcutta, 2004. (ISBN 81-291-0547-0)
- Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions, David Kinsley. (ISBN 81-208-0379-5)
- Mother Goddess Durga, Pranab Bandyopadhyay, United Writers, Calcutta 1993 ISBN 81-85328-13-7
- Grace and Mercy in Her Wild Hair : Selected Poems to the Mother Goddess, Ramprasad Sen (1720–1781). (ISBN 0-934252-94-7)
- Durga Puja Beginner, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir, 2001. (ISBN 1-887472-89-4)
- "Chandi Path", Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-52-6)
- "Chandi Path: Study of Chapter One", Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-58-5)
- "Chandi Path: Study of Chapter Two", Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-60-7)
- Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal, June McDaniel, Oxford University Press, 2004. (ISBN 0-19-516791-0)
- "Pronunciation and the Chandi Samputs", Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-61-5)
- "Devi Gita", Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-56-9)
- The Bond Between Women: A Journey to Fierce Compassion, China Galland, Riverhead Trade Publishing, U.S., 1999.
- Mahishasura Mardini Stotram (Prayer to the Goddess who killed Mahishasura), Sri Sri Sri Shankara Bhagavatpadacharya
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Durga|
- Official Website of Kanaka Durgamma Temple
- Durga Puja at NetGlimse.com
- Durga Puja (calcuttaweb.com)
- Durga at the Open Directory Project
- 108 names of Durga from the Durgāsaptaśatī