Mother Goddess is pervading in all forms in many ways, and this happens in both living and non-living. Even as a form of speech SHE is present as Para/ Paschyanti/ Madhyama/ Vaikhari in different beings. Given the omnipresence of GOD, it is natural that one sees ONE as many expressions in ALL. Durga is the Mother Goddess and the tradition follows Navaratri, nine days and ten-day puja during the Ashweeja month for her.
In a year of typical twelve months (barring once in three years Adhika or Purushottam masa), there are four Navaratris that occur. The first comes during the month of Chaitra, the first half of Vasant rutu. Second, occurs during the Ashadha, the rainy season. The third and the most popular happens during the pre-winter, in Ashweeja masa during Sharad rutu. The last of these four Navaratris happen during the Magha month which is the winter season. Due to the less knowledge about the Navaratris that happen in the Ashadha and Magha, these are called ‘Gupta’ Navaratris. Rama Navami and Dasara happen in Chaitra and Ashweeja Navaratris respectively.
The Durga Puja or Dasara/Dashera (colloquial for Dasha-kanta-hara) has two associated stories. One is the Mahishasura getting killed by the Goddess Durga and the second is Rama eliminating Ravana. Both indicate the victory of the good over the evil. When the power of Mahisha demon becomes much to bear for the divine armies, the all-encompassing Goddess takes the mightiest form and brings their suffering to an end. The ‘bad state’ or the ‘durgati’ of the divine forces ends with this help from the mother goddess. Hence, is the adage ‘Durge durgati nashini’, meaning Durga is the destroyer of the ‘bad state’.
Durga literally means beyond defeat and one who is invincible. She indicates the victory of the combination of higher powers against tamasic forces. The tamasic forces present in individuals and society shall take a back seat and may vacate forever when Durga is worshipped and the shakti of Durga is invoked in life. Durga is the embodiment of all three forms of shakti viz. ichha (intent), jnana (knowledge), and kriya (action). We know that knowledge-powered, well-intended action results in victory for the collective good. Life then becomes a real success.
Dr S Ainavolu is a professor at VPSoM, DYPU, Navi Mumbai. Views are personal. You can read more at https://www.ainavolu.in/blog