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Durga; unknown artist

Durga (also known as Maa Durga) is a Hindu goddess or devi of grain harvests and a patron of warriors. She is the Divine Mother in Hinduism, a powerful devi who is depicted as a fair-skinned woman with ten arms that wield a variety of weapons while also making mudras or traditional meditative hand gestures. Her name means "inaccessible" or "invincible." Durga is the Hindu goddess of the victory of good over evil, conquest, battle, protection, compassion, and justice. She protects the entire pantheon from the threat of asuras or demons. At one time the asura Mahisha practiced so many austerities that he was granted a boon from the gods. The boon he craved, and which was granted, was that he would be invincible to all men. No sooner was he given this power, than he terrorized the heavens and the earth. Seeing the earth and their own celestial homes ravaged by Mahishasura, who had taken the form of a bull, the gods rode out to do battle with him. However, because of the gift they had granted him, Mahisha was impervious to their attacks and felled each of the the devas in turn. As the gods fell, they handed their weapons to gentle Durga, with her husband Shiva giving her his weapon last. Durga, the serene goddess, took up the weapons and slew the monster twice, first in his bull form and then in his human form, for he was only protected from man, and not from woman.

Indian scriptures are often contradictory in presenting stories of the devas, and so in some accounts the the devi Kali is born from the third eye of Durga. In these versions of the tale, as Durga saw the destruction that Mahishasura had rained upon the heavens, she was overtaken with wrath and from her third eye Kali, the dark-skinned devi of vengenace was born. Whereas Kali is violent and aggressive, Durga remains patient, serene, and composed even in the heat of battle, thus demonstrating the difference between the two goddesses. As an aspect of Shakti and a consort of Shiva. Durga is also associated with the devi Parvati, and thus she can be called upon for help in matters involving peace and love. Within the Hindu tradition, Durga's festival of Durga Puja, which is also associated with Kali, is held in autumn months of September and October. At these festivals Durga is invoked through the sacred bilva or bel tree, which is also associated with Shiva.

Within the Hindu religious tradition, Durga is usually portrayed in altar statues and images as a lovely young woman riding on a tiger (or, sometimes, a lion). Her ten arms hold the weapons of all the gods, however, along with the weapons she also carries a lotus flower and her hands are posed in mudras or ritual gestures which reveal that her protective powers never carry over into vengeance or destruction. In her peaceful form, she smiles while brandishing her weapons, in her active form she drives the trident or trisula of her husband Shiva into the heart of the bull or buffalo monster Mahisha. She is the protective mother of all and her image is highly venerated, especially by householders. Her altars are decorated in yellow and orange colours and adorned with flowers. Her presence in the home ensures the safety of all family members and she is traditionally invoked to aid in matters of protection, home and family life, justice, and compassion.

Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who petition the Hindu gods and goddesses on behalf of clients may work with Durga when there are pending spiritual and magical issues involving protection and victory in battle, jinx breaking, exorcism of demons, and alleviation of curses, and fertility matters.


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