Happy Navratri: The Goddess Durga Artisans

We had to visit Chitaroli one last time to see the final touches being made to the gorgeous Goddess Durga idols, in preparation for Navratri, which starts today! Oh, they were beautiful; faces painted, bangles, jewels and sarees draped. The artisans are so talented and it’s obvious they love, and take pride in, their work. There is such an amazing atmosphere running through those streets! 

There are so many ways to celebrate Navratri (nine divine nights of the Goddess), the festivities vary from state to state, but Hindus around the world will all be worshiping the same Goddess, Durga. Dancing, fasting, feasting, praying, donating to charity and wearing new clothes. It’s an exciting time to be in India.

DSCN3988Here in Nagpur, makeshift temples (pandal) have been put up in every community to host their very own Goddess Durga for nine nights. As you travel around the city, you can see and hear groups of people practicing their garba dancing (a Gujarati folk dance, very popular during Navratri) and fairy lights are being strung across the streets.

The Goddesses in the photographs will have safely reached their temples across Nagpur by now, I cannot wait to drive around and visit as many as I can!DSCN3990

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Durga, navratri, festival, demon, good over evil, beauty, Goddess, Hinduism, Hindu, love, Spirituality, Woman

A scene from mythology where a fierce form of Goddess Durga stands on Lord Shiva

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Durga, navratri, festival, demon, good over evil, beauty, Goddess, Hinduism, Hindu, love, Spirituality, Woman

Scary demon defeated by powerful Goddess Durga

This is my first Navratri, it’s not a festival my family celebrate with great enthusiasm as we have recently pulled out all the stops for Goddess Lakshmi (Mahalakshmi festival, one of the most important events of the year for my family). Goddess Durga is my favourite deity, so I really want to embrace this festival, even if I have to do it in my own little way.

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Do you celebrate Navratri? Please tell me where you are from and your Navratri traditions…

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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

Divine!

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.

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