Goddess Durga Starts to take Her Nine Forms

Goddess Durga is very special to me, I love to visit her temples, read her stories and listen to songs devoted to her. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the workshops in Chitaroli (Nagpur) to see the preparations for the upcoming festivities celebrating my favourite deity.

These are the same workshops where I saw the Lord Ganesh idols being made for Ganesh Chathurthi. Those amazing elephant headed idols have returned to clay at the bottom of the lakes of Nagpur, and now it’s time for Goddess Durga to take form...

durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess

Navratri (nine divine nights) begins this week, a festival dedicated to worshiping the nine divine forms of Goddess Durga:

1st day: Shailputri is mother nature herself. The Goddess rides a bull, has a half-moon on her forehead, a trident in her right hand and a lotus in her left. She is also known as Parvati or Sati.

2nd day: Brahmachaarini is the personification of love and loyalty, she carries mala beads (a rosary) in one hand and a kamandalu (a pot) in the other. This form of Goddess Durga performs great penance in the name of love.

3rd day: Chandraghantaa rides a tiger and is responsible justice and dharma (righteousness) in the world. She has golden skin and ten arms, one of her hands holds a bell which scares away demons. Unlike the previous two forms, Chandraghantaa is capable of terrifying anger if provoked.

4th day: Kushmaandaa is the form of Goddess Durga whose smile can cast away darkness from the world,  her laughter is so great it could create an entire universe! She has eight arms, rides a lion and shines like the sun.

5th day: Skandmaataa is goddess of fire and has four arms and three eyes. Whilst sitting on a lotus flower, she holds her son on her lap, she represents the mother aspect of Goddess Durga.

6th day: Kaatyaayani is epitome of love combined with anger, she has four arms, three eyes, and rides a lion. She is the daughter form of Goddess Durga.

7th day: Kaalaraatri the most violent form of Goddess Durga, she shows a dark side to life. Kaalraatri is the destroyer of demons, she even drinks their blood! Her skin colour is black or blue and her hair is wild. She has huge eyes, can breathe fire and rides either a corpse or a donkey. Worshiping Kaalaraatri can make you fearless!

8th day: Maha Gauri is worshipped as her eight year old self, radiating compassion and peace. She is now the opposite of her previous form, Kaalraatri.  Her complexion is the fairest of all, and can be compared to a conch shell, the moon or Jasmine flowers.  She is often dressed in a white or green sari and holds a drum and a trident.

9th day: Siddhidaatri is the form of Goddess Durga who grants wishes, bestows knowledge and heals the sick. Shiddhidatri has four arms and rides a lion.

Can you spot the different forms of Goddess Durga in the photos I have taken?

durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
Eight arms

durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess

durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
Riding on six lions
durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
Fresh clay before paint
durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
Ornate crown
durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
Different styles
durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
Busy streets
durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
Artist painting her beautiful faces

durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess

durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess

durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
My husband and the sunset
durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
The Mother
durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
A smile which casts away darkness
durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
Blow touch drying, the festival is only days away!

durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess

durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
Look at that severed head!
durga being made model clay puja idol lion Goddess
Defeating demons!

It was such an honour to see the divine feminine, Goddess Durga, take form. Can you imagine how beautiful they will be once they are painted and adorned with sarees and jewelry?

Like these photos? Check out my photographs from the Ganesh Chathurthi Workshops.


    • Durga Puja is the biggest festival in west bengal. Here Ma Durga is worshiped for 5 days . Starting from Sashthi ,sixth day of lunar fortnight to Bijoya Dashami or Dussera. Here Ma Durga is worshiped along with her kids namely Ganesha, kartick , Lakshmi & Saraswati. here Ma Durga having ten arms and she is attacking asura .People wait for one year once the puja is over. .

      The people enjoy the five days of Durga Puja , watching the beautiful decoration and the lights. Through out the night there is a sea of people hopping the pandals . People dress up with colorful new clothes during pujas. People from all the cross sections of the society enjoy the festival . People forgets the complexity of life for a few days, having good foods and nice clothing. .

      Puja starts on Saptami day, early morning one of the organizer takes a full banana tree (small one) near a river or lake and the banana tree is dipped into the water to give a bath and covered with a red bordered white sari. Its called ” kola bou” kola means banana in bengali and bou means a married lady. Afterward the kola bou is brought in the place where the puja takes place.

      Here Ma Durga is worshiped as a mother as well as a daughter. During this puja one day a little girl aged around 8-9 years is worshiped as Ma Durga ,adorning with beautiful sari and gold ornaments.This Puja is called ” Kumari Puja” , kumari means a girl not reached her puberty.

      On the Dashami day ie the last day of the festival is also called Vijaya Dashami ,the day of immersion in the rivers or lakes.

      Before immersion procession starts there is a ceremony called sindoor khela means playing with vermilion , only married ladies takes part in this sindoor khela.

      As per the bengalis Ma Durga comes to her mother from her inlaws house in Kailash. . whenever a daughter comes to her mother , the mother feels very happy. Here Ma Durga visits her mother for few days . But when the daughter leaves her mom after a short stay , mother feels very sad , but she has to accept the fact that her daughter should leave her to stay with her husband..

      In bengali culture whenver a daughter leaves her mother , the mother offers her some sweet and betel leave (paan) and applies some sindur at the parting of the daughter’s forehead. This ritual is actually the blessing of a mother so that the daughter remains happy in her married life.

      On Dashami day the married ladies gather near Ma Durga and offers some sweets in her mouth and touches the betel leaf and lastly applies some sindur on the forehead and whispers to Ma durga’s ear ” again visit us next year”.. The married ladies after offering the Goddess plays with the sindur with each other applying not only on their parting of forehead but apply on each others faces with the sindur wishing each other a happy married life. . its like a mini holi for those ladies.

      Once the ritual is over the Goddess is taken for immersion. One nice ritual is there, before immersion, one blue necked bird is let off so that the bird will fly to himalayas and tell Lord Shiva that Ma durga is on the way to be with Him.

      After immersion is completed people greet each other saying “Suvo Bijoya” (Happy Bijoya).with friends and relatives. Males embrace each other and touches the feet of the elders for showing respect for them and exchange sweets .


  1. @Lauren

    In many north indian families, there is a ritual called “kanchak” on the “Astami” (eight day of the Navaratras). People get up early in the morning and cook halwa, puri and channa. Little girls from the neighborhood who have yet to reach puberty are called. These girls are considered to be the representation of Goddess Durga herself. They are worshiped, their feet washed, tika put on their foreheads. A red thread is also tied to their wrists. They are served food and given money. Then these girls go to another house and collect food and money. The number of girls should be more than five or more. A boy is also called who represent Lord Hanuman. All day girls go from one house to other. They collected lots of money.

    It is not a ritual followed in my community, but my late mother used to do it, so we follow this tradition. Nowdays, we give food and money to poor children, since children of our neighborhood are too busy on that day. We used to be called to different houses on that day. One of those things which you remember from you childhood.



  2. Hello,

    Nice Article!

    Hope you are doing fine. I would like you to write an article on the following debate –

    Since you are married to an Indian, it would interesting to know about your views on his motherland which was once a Colonial Subject (Cash Cow in literal terms) of your ‘motherland’.

    You wrote a lot of ‘good good’ things about India & UK but you have never written about the brutal past which existed between these two nations a few decades ago.

    In addition, I would like to know your stance about the Colonization of India by the British.



  3. Hi Lauren! I’ve been reading the stories from others but was missing yours. 🙂 Glad to see this one! I’m curious if there is a festival season or if events are year round. It is quite incredible, both the variety and apparent complexity of the celebrations you have written about. Have a great day!


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