Navratri – Nine forms of Durga Devi?


Navratri, the nine-day Hindu festival dedicated to the divine feminine energy known as Maa Durga, kicks off on Sep 26 this year and ends with the festival of Vijayadashami on Oct 5th Maa Durga is worshipped during Navratri in nine different forms, each with unique physical characteristics and legends surrounding her origin.

Nine Forms of Maa Durga


Lakshmi is a Hindu goddess, consort of Vishnu, goddess or shakti for both Surya and Chandra. Her symbol is the lotus. She is considered one of three goddesses with Parvati/Gauri and Saraswati/Sri Sakthi to embody different aspects of divine feminine energy within Devi Navratri.

Together, they represent three qualities traditionally assigned to women – Lakshmi personifies beauty; Saraswati knowledge and speech; Parvati strength. Devi Navratri honours all nine forms of Maa Durga during nine days. Goddess Parvati has eight forms which are represented by Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, and Mahagauri.


Durga Devi is the Hindu goddess that embodies Shakti, or female power. She is known by many names: Parvati, Subhadra, Shailaja, and Dharaavati. Saraswati is a wisdom goddess and the inspiration for creativity. The tenth incarnation of Durga Devi was in the form of her son, Lord Ganesha. Durga Devi also has nine manifestations of Shakti called Navadurgas. They are Kali, Tara, Sodasi, Bhuvaneshvari, Vaishnavi (or Vishnu), Maheshvari (or Shiva), Varahi (or Brahma), Indrani (or Indra), and Chamunda.


The tenth form is called Bhadrakali, or Maa Kali. She is also one of the most famous forms of Goddess Durga. This form signifies creative power and shakti (or feminine energy). Unlike many Hindu goddesses, Kali’s dark skin tone signals her association with death and decay. The giver-of-peace funerals and maternal protector, she bestows fearlessness to those who dare defy death. Some call her the great slayer of demons. 

In some parts of India, Goddess Durga has a terrible reputation for being bloodthirsty, ruthless, and terrifying as she devours all sins in a consuming fire so that people can find salvation. However, in other regions, Goddess Durga is seen as loving and nurturing because she takes care of everyone regardless if they are good or bad; treating everyone equally and freeing them from their suffering just like a mother would do for their child

Gauri (Gowri)

Maa Gauri, also known as Gowri, is a form of Maa Durga. Gauri is revered in all parts of India but has her main temple in Varanasi. Her origins can be traced back to Adishakti who was born from Shiva’s creative energy. She is a symbol of divine feminine power who was actually the wife of Shiva. Gauri represents enlightenment and spiritual wisdom which she gained by being trained by Parvati herself on Mount Kailasa. She then went on to create an abode called Agni Mandir in the Himalayas where she now resides.

 It is believed that Gauri holds the Goddess Shakti and when they are together they are capable of destroying any malevolent forces that are trying to disrupt peace in society. 

In Hindu mythology, it is said that without Maa Durga there would be no balance between good and evil.


Bhadrakali, one of the nine forms of Maa Durga, is also known as a symbol for Devi Navratri. She has a dark complexion, and four hands, and is shown carrying her weapon while trampling over demon Raktabija. She is believed to be a powerful guardian who protects against evil influences in life. The Hindu god Shiva was so impressed by her fierce nature that he made her his daughter. Bhairavi: One of the nine forms of Maa Durga, Bhairavi is said to have a cruel disposition and black or red skin. It is thought that she is a form of Kali and carries an iron spear with which she slays demons. Jvalamukhi.

Dattatreya’s consort, Jvalamukhi can be seen holding fire in two of her four arms. It is believed that she holds this fiery energy to burn up obstacles on the spiritual path. Yami: Another incarnation of Kali, Yami rides a deadly buffalo and wears bone jewelry around her neck.


One day Parvati, Durga’s Daughter, sees a handsome prince. Parvati’s father sends her off to find him so he can marry her. The man she finds is Shiva, who is out in meditation with his hair tightly braided. He refuses to marry Parvati because she had been born to another man than himself. Even when Parvati is beautiful she could not tempt Shiva to give in to her passion for her so she transforms into Goddess Durga! Seeing the transformation, Shiva realizes that it was her will alone that kept him away from worldly pleasures. Thus they married and became parents to Kartikeya, or Skanda. They then became the ultimate divine couple embodying a balance between male and female energies. 

In Indian mythology, the nine forms of Maa Durga are associated with various aspects of life such as creativity, destruction, love, prosperity etc.


Chhinnamasta was created by an exposition by cutting off her own head and shedding a river of blood. When Devkunda severed her neck, Durga Matha created Chhinnamasta as revenge. This goddess is believed to offer release from material concerns and attracts worshippers who are mostly women. 

The severed head represents freedom from bondage to karma; the nectar flowing from it means liberation for those who worship this form of Maa Durga. Sometimes she also carries a sword or skull cup in one hand which denotes knowledge (which frees one from ignorance) and death respectively. Kali: The Hindu Goddess Kali is said to be the ‘wrathful form’ of Adi Shakti or Maa Durga herself.

Annapurna (Annapoorni)

Annapurna (Annapoorni) is the form of Maa Durga where she offers to feed all those who are in need. She dispenses her breast milk into a pot that never empties so there is always enough milk for everyone, everywhere.

 Durga Matha, or forms of Maa Durga, can range from Kali to Lakshmi. They each have different forms and show themselves as protectors in different situations. Devi Mahatmyam explains nine different manifestations of Maa Durga’s energy which correspond with these specific powers: 

  1. Brahmacharini – The virgin goddess; 
  2. Kushmanda – The nurturing mother; 
  3. Skandamata – The compassionate mother; 
  4. Vaishnavi – Mother Nature;


In Hindu tradition, there are nine forms or aspects of Maha-Devi. A threefold version is associated with Shakti being in her innocent form, who is called Prakriti or Maya: Parvati, who is considered to be Shakti in her benign form; Lakshmi, who is considered to be Shakti as Sita’s ideal self; and Saraswati, who is considered to be Shakti as Radha’s ideal self. The second aspect of Devi is known as Kali, who is considered to be Shakti in her terrifying form. The third aspect of Devi is known as Durga, which is considered to be the combined power of all other forms.

Final Words

No matter your religious background, you can recognize the value in viewing divinity as something that is inherently powerful for anyone to draw from. Everyone has a Goddess within themselves, which is ready to be awakened by drawing from any one or many forms of Maa Durga. The nine forms of Maa Durga represent the potentiality and power found within every person on this planet.

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