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You are here : home > Indian Culture > Indian Festivals and occassions > The Nine Forms of Durga

The Nine Forms of Durga


Navratri is the festival to worship the Goddess Durga. Read about the significance of the different forms of this goddess.


According to Hindu tradition, Mahishasur was a demon who unleashed a reign of terror all over the earth and the heavens. Since he could not be killed by any god nor a mortal man, it was decided that a woman would have to kill him. Accordingly, the trinity of goddesses (Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Parvati) were transformed into a single being, namely Durga. Dassera is celebrated to commemorate the defeat of Mahishasur at the hands of Durga.

The nine day period from the first day of the month of Ashvin to the ninth day is the most auspicious time of the year. During this time, each of the nine forms of goddess Durga are worshipped. They are given below.

    1. Durga Shailputri
    This name literally means 'daughter of the mountain'. She is considered as the daughter of the Himalayas. In her previous life, she was Sati-Bhavani, the daughter of Daksha and the wife of the God Shiv. Daksha once organised a yagna and did not invite Shiv and his wife there as they had married against his wishes. However, Sati showed up at the place. When Daksha saw her, he insulted Shiv. Sati refused to listen to these insults and jumped into the sacred fire of the yagna.

    2. Brahmacharini
    This is the second form of the goddess Durga. Her name is derived from 'Brahma' which means penance. According to one story, she was playing with her friends when the sage Narad approached her. He told her that she would marry her husband from her previous life but she would have to do penance for him first. On hearing this, she vowed that she would not marry anyone else except the man who had been her husband previously. Also, she did penance for a long period of time before she finally got married.

    3. Chandragantha
    She is the third form of the goddess and she represents bravery. She is depicted as having three eyes and ten hands, each one bearing a different type of weapon. Her skin is golden colour and the sound of her bell terrifies demons as well as all enemies.

    4. Kushmanda
    This is the fourth form, who resides in the solar system. She is said to have created the entire universe, merely by her laughter. She shines brightly in all the directions, like the rays of the sun. She has eight hands, seven of which bear weapons. The eighth hand holds a string of beads.

    5. Skanda Mata
    This is the fifth form. Her name means she is the mother of Skanda, the leader of the army of gods. He is the son of Shiv and Durga as Parvati Hemvati. She is a deity of fire, with three eyes and four hands. She is depicted as being seated on a lotus, with Skanda seated on her lap.

    6. Katyayani
    The sixth form of Durga refers to the daughter of Katyayan. According to a story, Katyayan was a member of the Katya lineage. He undertook penance so that his daughter would be born divine. His prayers were answered and Durga took the form of his daughter Katyayani. She has eight hands, each one holding a different type of weapon.

    7. Kalratri
    Kalratri is the seventh form of goddess Durga and her name literally means 'dark night'. Her skin colour is black and her hair is left free. Her eyes are large and she breathes fire. Her mount is a corpse and she is said to make her devotees fearless. She is sometimes also referred to as Shubhamkari.

    8. Maha Gauri
    This is the eighth form of Durga, who is represented by an eight year old child. Her clothes and skin are pure white in colour and she rides on a bull. She has four hands, of which one holds a trishul as a weapon. It is said that when her body became dirty due to the dust, Shiv used the waters of the Ganges to clean the dust from her body.

    9. Siddhidatri
    Siddhidatri is the ninth form of the Durga. It is said that Shiv obtained all the eight 'siddhis' or spiritual powers when he worshipped this form. She has four hands and rides on a lion. This is the form that all people pray to in order to achieve spiritual elevation.

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Uma shanker.5 years ago
Could you please explain in detail about the different names of Durga and Parvati?Are there any legend behind the names?
 
 
 
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Rajni.5 years ago
these 9 forms of Durga are quite common but what do other names of Durga signify. Durga and Parvati are same then what do different names of parvati signify.
 
 
 
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Pavan.5 years ago
All the 9 forms of durga have a special significance and they denote something. This article made an interesting read.
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Discussion Forum - Recent Posts
Have you ever heard about the nine forms of goddess Durga? Did you know about the significance of each one? What other stories do you know about these different forms?
Anandita
Nice article. I have just one question. Are these all the forms of Durga? What about Uma? Why haven' t you mentioned her?...
Minku
Hi Anandita. In response to your query, Uma is simply another name for Shiva' s wife. Each form is known by more than one name. What name you may have heard of will depend on which part of the country...
Vani
In my daughter' s school, they had a play about the different forms of Durga. They had nine children to act the different parts. It was a very nice play. I feel this is an excellent way to teach child...
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