Ganesh chaturti, Mahalaya, followed by Navaratri.

The nine nights, these are dedicated to the worship of the mother goddess.

Navaratri or nine nights of ritualistic worship.  The vasanta Navaratri, the jyeshta Navaratri and shared Navaratri are three major navaratri’s.

Vasanta navaratri  in spring was first celebrated by the ancestor of Ram to beget progeny

The jyeshta Navaratri or the Ganga Navaratri when Ganga the river goddess is honored.

Sharad Navaratri that honors the mother goddess in all her forms.

Mother goddess, is the personification of nature. The is Adi maya the invincible. She is both the bride and the warrior at the same time, on one she establishes a home, nurtures, romances and provides food on the other she is unfretted protector of the people who surrender to her, she rides a lion, and destroyers her challengers.

With respect to Brahma we have the creative energy that manifests as sharada, saraswati, shatarupa. As shatarupa she takes on the infinite forms, as saraswati she is the embodiment of knowledge, answering the primordial question “who am I “as sharada, she is dedication and discipline. Riding a white heron the symbol of concentration, a string of memory beads, and no jewels, and holds a lute she is difficult to acquire once she is realized she is a companion for life.

The bejeweled opulent companion of Vishnu Lakshmi, daughter of Varuna the water she is embodiment of tangible wealth. She is fickle as she is fortune.  Her symbols are all the symbols of prosperity, dressed in a red sari, a pot overflowing with grain and gold the goddess represents pleasure, prosperity and power that culture harvests out of nature. She is elusive, whimsical and difficult to hold on. She is always with her twin Jyeshta lakshmi or Alakshmi the goddess of misfortune, poverty strife and struggle she demands acknowledgement.

Gauri the, known as pratyaksha maheshwari or visible goddess she is Annapurna the giver of food. Secure in Shiva’s lap she is everything that Kali is not. Usually represented as fair, married woman, in a green sari, with green bangles wearing a string of fragrant flowers. She is mother goddess domesticated.

Ganga the personification of human energy she was so powerful, that Shiva himself could not sustainer, she drew the heat of Shiva’s Tapas and flow down as a river. The matted hair of Shiva here symbolizes discipline unless disciplined the life sustaining quality can overwhelm.

Radha the embodiment of romance, surrender and unconventionality. She is the vayu prana of the Krishna avatar, once Krishna leaves vrindavan for Mathura he ceases to be venugopal. Radha a married woman, older than Krishna their romance defies the social norms.  Scholars would like to justify it as the eternal need of the jivatma (soul-Radha) to merge with the parmatma (the divine).Radha is the acknowledgement of inner desires that are denied, repressed or sublimated despite which they still exist.

Placing her foot on a mustachioed human head, Kali is nature in her aggression, unbound raw and wild. She is the darkest recess of unconscious that can overwhelm culture; there can be a collapse of social structure if discipline gives away to desire.  The mustachioed human head represents the human ego, which needs validation and approval from the external world.

Lajja Gauri as the art historians call her is very popularly seen both in folk art and tantric art. She is not really identifiable by scriptures. A picture of contradiction. The image depicts absence of face suggesting shyness and exposed genital contradicts this.  This can be translated to the impersonal i.e. without head, fertile and pleasure giving make the mother goddess a beloved and a mother.

The indigenous Gramadevata is created by drawing eyes and palms to certain naturally occurring rocks that are responsive. The open eyes symbolizing her sensitivity of to the devotees need, the upturned palm reassuring and blessing the down turned palm giving. The tangible energy varies from place to place. The most popular one being the vaishnoo Devi at Jammu.

Gauri Durga Kali
  • Dressed in green
  • Maternal
  • Hair bound
  • Vegetarian
  • Wears symbols of marriage
  • Holds no weapon
  • Offers food
  • Dressed in red
  • Bridal
  • Unbound hair
  • Accepts all offerings
  • Wears bridal jewels
  • Holds defensive weapons.
  • Does not offer food
  • Naked
  • Carnal
  • Disheveled
  • Demands blood
  • Covered with human head.
  • Holds offensive weapons
  • Does not offer food

The mother goddess, Maheshwari—Adi maya-Adishakti is infinite and impermanent she directs the jiva to realize the divine within, nurtures the jiva’s journey to self discovery.  But the journey of self discovery tries to control the fertility of nature that she personifies, she strikes violently.