The 10 day autumnal festival celebrated through the brighter half of moon phase just got over in different parts of India. It is celebrated with grandeur for 5 days in the eastern part of India and is the major festival of the region. Kolkata, the erstwhile city of the Raj on the eastern banks of the River Ganges wears a festive look through the 5 days of Durga Puja. You may wonder why autumn? Actually it is linked to the solstice and the end of the harvest season which gives reason to celebrate and prepare oneself for the long winter ahead. The energy of the Mother Goddess is the embodiment of feminine divinity which when connected to gives strength to the weak, invokes softness and love in the mind of the doubting , gives solace to the grieving that all is well and endows us with joy and all round happiness.
She has 10 hands which protect us from all 10 directions (East, South East, South, South West, West, North West, North, North East, Top, Down)
Her 10 hands have 10 different weapons gifted from different gods (manifestation of different natural elements) which enabled her to fight the evil.
- Sword – symbolizes knowledge which is as sharp as a sword to remove doubt
- Bow and Arrow – depicts her control on all forms of energy
- Thunderbolt – signifies firmness and a devotee must be firm in one’s convictions and face every challenge with confidence
- Discus – better known as the Sudarshan Chakra which spins around the index finger of the Goddess signifying destruction of evil and demonstrating that the entire world is subservient to the will of Durga
- Conch Shell – is the symbol of the universal sound OM which holds the secret of the universe
- Lotus – in her hand is not completely bloomed represents the continuous spiritual evolution of the devotees and depicts certainty of success but not finality
- Trident – Is a 3 headed sharp weapon which reflects her control of 3 worlds and 3 qualities – Satwa, Rajas and Tamas
- Snake – symbolizes kundalini shakti in humans which when awakened endows us with good health and well being
- Noose – is a reminder of how we are bound by desires, lust and ego and ho
- Bell – to invoke mental clarity and dispel air of negativity
- Axe – symbolizes destruction of desires and attachments
- Spear– is for penetrating insight
- Goad – also known as Ankush is used to guide elephants. Spiritually the elephant signifies our huge material desires that need to be curbed and controlled
- Shield – is the reminder of protection from evil forces
- Club – is to take the world on a new path
- Beads – the string is a reminder of lessons on concentration and spiritual growth
She is seen riding a lion which is symbolic of courage, royal grace and the ability to conquer difficult situations. She uses all the weapons to demolish demonic qualities symbolic of demon asura emerging from a buffalo representing dullness, lack of intelligence and ignorance
Over the 9 days she is worshipped in 9 forms which are symbolic of the evolution of a woman from a daughter, to a student, to a young woman, wife, mother and finally into a spiritually enriched soul. (Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Mahagauri, Siddhidatri)
The 10th Day is celebrated as Vijaya Dashami or Victory Day where people wish each other with sweets and warm greetings. The Victory is over all the 10 qualities that the weapons of the Goddess was intended to annihilate Kama (Lust), Krodha (Anger), Moha (Attachment), Lobha (Greed), Mada (Over Pride), Matsara (Jealousy), Swartha (Selfishness), Anyaaya (Injustice), Amanavta (Cruelty), Ahankara (Ego).
2014 Durga Puja Dates are from 25th September to 4th October