IGCA's Goddess Durga Puja 2014 Munich Germany

Durga Puja

The word Durga in Sanskrit means a fort, or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of Durga is Durgatinashini, which literally translates into the one who eliminates sufferings. Thus, Hindus believe that goddess Durga protects her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.

There are many incarnations of Durga: Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, Rajeswari, et al. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine beings, who offered her the required physical attributes and weapons to kill the demon Mahishasur.

Her nine appellations are Skondamata, Kusumanda, Shailaputri, Kaalratri, Brahmacharini, Maha Gauri, Katyayani, Chandraghanta and Siddhidatri.

Durga is depicted as having ten hands. These represent ten quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism. This suggests that she protects the devotees from all directions.

Like Shiva, Mother Durga is also referred to as Triyambake meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).

The lion represents power, will and determination. Mother Durga riding the lion symbolises her mastery over all these qualities. This suggests to the devotee that one has to possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego.

The conch shell in Durga's hand symbolizes the Pranava or the mystic word Om, which indicates her holding on to God in the form of sound.

The bow and arrows represent energy. By holding both the bow and arrows in one hand Mother Durga is indicating her control over both aspects of energy - potential and kinetic.

The thunderbolt signifies firmness. The devotee of Durga must be firm like thunderbolt in one's convictions. Like the thunderbolt that can break anything against which it strikes, without being affected itself, the devotee needs to attack a challenge without losing his confidence.

The lotus in Durga's hand is not in fully bloomed, It symbolizing certainty of success but not finality. The lotus in Sanskrit is called pankaja which means born of mud. Thus, lotus stands for the continuous evolution of the spiritual quality of devotees amidst the worldly mud of lust and greed.

The Sudarshan-Chakra or beautiful discus, which spins around the index finger of the Goddess, while not touching it, signifies that the entire world is subservient to the will of Durga and is at her command. She uses this unfailing weapon to destroy evil and produce an environment conducive to the growth of righteousness.

The sword that Durga holds in one of her hands symbolizes knowledge, which has the sharpness of a sword. Knowledge which is free from all doubts, is symbolized by the shine of the sword.

Durga's trident or trishul is a symbol of three qualities - Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (non-activity) - and she is remover of all the three types of miseries - physical, mental and spiritual.

Devi Durga stands on a lion in a fearless pose of Abhay Mudra, signifying assurance of freedom from fear. The universal mother seems to be saying to all her devotees: Surrender all actions and duties onto me and I shall release thee from all fears.

All over India with Durga Puja people celebrate goddess Durga's victory of good over evil. During this festival, Hindus observe 10 days of ceremonies, rituals, fasts, feasts, song and dance in honor of the supreme mother goddess Durga.

In eastern India, especially in Bengal, the Durga Puja is the principal festival during Navaratri. It is celebrated with gaiety and devotion through public ceremonies of Sarbojanin Puja or community worship. Huge decorative temporary structures called pandals are constructed to house these grand prayer services, followed by mass feeding, and cultural functions.

The earthen icons of Goddess Durga, accompanied by those of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganisha and Kartika, are taken out on the tenth day in a triumphal procession to the nearby river, where they are ceremonially immersed. Bengali ladies give an emotion-charged send-off to Durga amidst ululations and drumbeats. This marks the end of the goddess’ brief visit to the earth. As Durga leaves for Mount Kailash, the abode of her husband Shiva, it’s time for Bijoya or Vijayadashami, when people visit each other’s homes, hug each other and exchange sweets.

Festival scene links:

Video 1 : Durga Puja
Video 2 : Dhak
Video 3 : Dhunuchi Dance

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