In many temples, homes and calendars, this image is prevalent. It is well known, yet many may not know the meaning behind it. This is an image of the nine forms of the goddess Durga, often called Nav Durga, with ‘nav’ being the word for nine. Together, the symbols and emblems show Nav Durga is a very significant group of goddesses for Hindus. This image shows the goddess Durga in nine of her forms. The goddess in the middle is the main form, Durga. This is evident because she is in the center and is largest, suggesting that she is more important, or that the entire image has to do with her. It looks a lot like the image of Vishnu and his avataras. Durga, often referred to as Durga Maa (‘Maa’ meaning mother), is associated with many things. Her vehicle is a tiger, she is extremely beautiful, and she carries weapons in each of her hand except one in which she holds a lotus. The weapons and her vehicle refer to her creation. Durga was created by the Gods when they were overthrown by a demon that could not be killed by them. Since a woman could only kill this demon, the gods put their angry energies together and from each of those energies stemmed a body part of Durga. Each of the gods gave her his weapon, which is why she carries weapons such as Shiva’s trishul, Vishnu’s discus, and the lion from Himalaya. These weapons are the key symbols to look for when recognizing an image of Durga Maa, along with the tiger. The other eight forms of Durga are formed each day of her battle with this demon. Since this battle took nine days, there are nine total parts of Durga. The first form is Shailputri. ‘Shail’ comes from the Sanskrit word meaning mountain, which explains that she was incarnated from Himalaya. She is recognizable in the image as the one on the bottom left corner. Her mount is a bull. She has a trishul in one hand and a lotus in another. She is known for wearing colored apparel. The second phase is Brahmacharni. In this content, Brahma means penance....
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