Nine nights of prayer and festivities

Durga Puja

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West Bengal has Pujo. Gujarat has Garba. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have Golu. The nine nights devoted to the Mother Goddess holds the entire nation in thrall. Durga, the Supreme Mother, is regarded as the essence of all creation.

There are nine appellations of Durga - Shailaputri (daughter of the mountains), Brahmacharini (the austere one), Chandraghanta (the brave one), Kushmanda (creator of the universe), Skanda Mata (Mother of the infant Lord Kartikeya, commander of the divine army), Katyayani (the divine daughter of Sage Kata), the fierce Kaal Ratri (the violet one who is the death of time), Maha Gauri (the pure, fair one) and Siddhidhatri (the blissful one).

There are four Navratris -- one for each season. But the Sharad Navratri, or Maha Navratri, is the most auspicious. Over the first three days, the goddess is worshipped as Durga, the vanquisher of evil in the universe. Over the next three days, she is worshipped as Lakshmi, the benefactress, the bringer of wealth and prosperity in the universe. On the last three days, the most sacred days -- Durgashtami, Mahanavami and Vijay Dashami -- the goddess is worshipped as Saraswati, the bestower of wisdom. 

These images from our Flickr community depict the various moods and aspects of Durga Puja, Navratri and Golu, the various customs and rituals associated with Navratri, and the celebrations and festivities.

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