Now for most of you who follow Navaratri or Durga Puja, this may be common knowledge, but since I don’t follow anything at all except my own free will, this was informative. And since I believe there are more such people out there, I thought of writing about it. I also found the imagery around the nine forms very interesting.
The nine names are:
Śhailaputrī, Brahmachāriṇī, Chandrakaṇṭā, Kuṣhmāṇḍā, Skandamātā, Kātyāyanī, Kālarātrī, Mahāgaurī and Siddhidātrī
These nine forms are actually based on the three major forms that mother Goddess Durga manifests herself into: Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali (Parvati). These three are consorts of the Hindu trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra (Maheshwara).
In some traditions, Parvati is considered the Sagun form of Shakti or Adi Shakti to be precise – the original goddess – and Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali are considered partial expansions. In Bengali tradition, there are three separate Pujas meant to venerate these three major forms at different times of the year, but during Navratri all forms appear as it is the puja of Goddess Durga on the whole.
There is also a theory that Durga manifests into different Gunas (loosely, colors). Each form is associated with a color and a specific representation as below:
Due to her long austerities in the deep forests of the Himalayas in her life as Parvati or Devi, she developed a dark complexion even at the age of 16. When Lord Shiva cleaned her with the water of the Ganges, her body regained its beauty. This is one of the most important days out of Durga puja. Her clothes and ornaments are white and clean. She has three eyes. She rides on a bull and has four hands. Her right hand is in the pose of allaying fear and her right lower hand holds a trident. The left upper hand holds a ‘damaru’ (a small rattle drum) and the lower one is in the pose of granting boons to her devotees.
This is another primordial form of the Goddess. In ‘Devi Bhagvata Purana’ it is mentioned that Lord Shiva worshipped her and was blessed with all Siddhis (supernatural powers). By her blessings his half body became female and other half body male in the avatar of Ardhnarishvara. She has four arms and she is always in a blissful happy enchanting pose. She rides on the lion as her vehicle. It is believed that Siddhidatri has supernatural healing powers.
Interestingly, if you see, two primordial forms appear exactly halfway through – one at number 4 and the other at number 9. The forms in between usually have 2 forms from Durga’s life as Parvati / Devi – daughter of Himalaya and one form from her previous life as Sati – daughter of Daksha prajapati. What do you see about the timelines?
Other forms of the Goddess:
(1) Baglamukhi, (2) Bhuvaneshwari, (3) Chinnmasta, (4) Dhoomavati, (5) Kali, (6) Kamakhya, (7) Kamala, (8) Maatangi, (9) Shodashi (also called Tripur-sundari), (10) Tara, (11) Tripura-Bhairavi and (12) Durga Shakti