Today marks the tenth day of the annual Navarathri festival. This tenth day is called Vijaya Dasami, which literally means “triumph on the tenth.”
It is commonly believed that Goddess Durga vanquished the buffalo demon Mahishasura on this day. This victorious day also marks the day that Lord Rama defeated the demon king Ravana and made his journey home to Ayodhya. Some narratives of Rama’s story describe Rama as having invoked Goddess Durga through the powerful Chandi Puja, or worship of Durga in her passionate and furious form. Since Rama’s triumph over Ravana and Durga’s triumph over Mahishasura were both on this day, Vijaya Dasami has become a day synonymous with good beginnings. Many people around the world begin business ventures, musical study, dance, and other undertakings on this day. While Navarathri is a festival dedicated to the Goddess in her various forms, the tenth day of the festival is a day on which both Durga and Rama are worshiped. In North India, re-enactments of Rama’s life are portrayed in vivid theatre performances called Ram-Leela. At the end of the play, a larger than life effigy of the demon Ravana is burst into flames to signify Rama’s victory. Another key component of this day is the Ayudha Puja, or worship of weapons and instruments. Children place their books in front of their home shrine, while others pay respect to the implements that make their livelihoods possible. Cars, kitchen utensils, knives, hammers, chisels, computers, and other objects are cleaned and venerated by those who use them. In South India, there is a custom of erecting a doll display, which is worshipped for the nine days of Navarathi. On Vijaya Dasami, the dolls are symbolically put to sleep after last-minute visitors come and admire their beauty. These dolls, mainly of gods and goddesses, represent the same gods and goddesses that gave their power, Shakti, to bring Goddess Durga to life. After the gods and goddesses gave their power to Durga in order for her to vanquish Mahishasura, they became as lifeless as dolls. On the tenth day, after Durga killed the buffalo demon, she restored the life to the gods and goddesses and become reabsorbed into them. This idea is seen in action in Eastern India, where large idols of the Goddess Durga and her retinue are immersed on this day after five full days of worship. Wherever you find yourself in India, or abroad, this day is one of enjoyment and happiness. It marks the triumph of good over evil and reminds us that we must cultivate the good in our hearts, and have victory over our not-so-good tendencies.
Lord Ganesha is invoked as Vighneswara in the launch of an event or business by majority of the Hindus as he is believed to be the obstacle remover. Lord Ganesha is also considered as the God of auspicious beginnings and bestower of fortune in abundance. He is the son of Lord Shiva and Hindu Goddess Parvati. The Ganesha Purana describes the 32 forms of Lord Ganesha and among them, Mahaganapathi is widely worshiped. The first 16 forms of Ganesha are known by the name “Shodasa Ganapati” and the later ones are known as “Ekavimsathi”. Here, let us have a look at all the 32 forms of Lord Ganesha.
1. Bala Ganapathi: It depicts the child like form of Ganesha and represents earth. The idol of Bala Ganapathi is elephant faced and has four hands holding the fruits of the Earth – Mango, Jackfruit, Banana and Sugarcane in his four hands. His trunk garners His favorite sweet; the modaka. He is believed to save the devotees from sin.
2. Bhakti Ganapati: It is the devotee form of Lord Ganesha. He is portrayed to have four arms holding coconut, Mango, Banana and sweet made of Jaggery (Cup of Payasam).
3. Dhundhi Ganapati: He is known as the sought after Ganapati as he helps his devotees to attain moksha through spiritual studies. He has four hands bearing the japa beads mala, broken tusk, a pot of precious gems and ax.
4. Durga Ganapati: He is the invincible Ganapati paying attribute to Mother Durga and is depicted with 8 arms holding a bow and arrow, goad and noose, prayer beads, a rose apple and his broken tusk.
5. Dvija Ganapati: The word “Dvija” means born twice. It reminds us the story of Lord Shiva beheading Ganesha and resurrecting Him with an elephant’s head. As per Upanayana, Dvija Ganapati is considered equivalent to Lord Brahma. He is represented with four heads and four hands holding palm-leaf inscription, a staff, meditation beads, water pot, noose and goad.
6. Dvimukha Ganapati: It is a unique form of Ganapati with two heads, sees in all directions and in His 4 arms the goad, noose, a pot of gems and his tusk. A jeweled crown graces his head.
7. Ekadanta Ganapati: As the name suggest “single tusked” Ganapati. This form is special as He is having a large belly than in any other form which signifies that all the manifestation of the universe is within him. His hands hold broken tusk, Ladu, japa beads mala, and an axe to cut the bond of ignorance.
8. Ekakshara Ganapati: In this form Ganapati identified with Single Syllable, third eye and crescent moon. The single syllable comes from the seed letter “Gam”, which is a pronominal sound of “OM”. He sits on yogic lotus posture on his vehicle Mooshika. With one hand he grants boons and the others hold pomegranate, elephant goad and noose.
9. Haridra Ganapati: The kumkuma coloured Ganapati and is seated on a posh royal throne with calm face. His tusk holds his favorite sweet modak, his hands wield the noose and goad.
10. Heramba Ganapati: He is the Mother’s beloved son and a rare form in which the Lord appears with five heads and ten hands. He is also known as magnificent Protector of the weak. The Abhya Mudra depicted in his right hand bestows blessing and the main left hand grants wishes. On the other hands holds a noose, japa beads mala (Rudrashaka), a battle axe, a battle hammer, his broken tusk as a weapon, garland, a fruit and his favorite sweet Modaka.
11. Kshipra Ganapati: He is also known as Ganapati who is easy to appease and gives quick reward to the devotees. He is depicted to have a broken tusk and four hands holding a noose, goad and a sprig of the kalpavriksha (wish-fulfilling) tree. In His uplifted trunk He holds a tiny pot of precious jewels which is considered as a symbol of the prosperity he can bestow upon followers.
12. Kshipra Prasada Ganapati: As the name suggest Ganapati the quick rewarder. He sits on a Kusha grass throne and his big belly symbolizes the universe. His hands hold broken tusk, the twig of Kalpavriksha, noose, an elephant goad, pomegranate and a white lotus.
13. Lakshmi Ganapati: Commonly known as Ganapati the fortunate. He is depicted to have the Goddess Siddhi (Achievement) and Goddess Budhi (Wisdom) on both thighs. He has 8 hands, gesturing varada mudra, Abhya Mudra and other hands holds green Parrot, a Pomegranate, a sword, a noose, elephant goad, sprig of Kalpavriksha (Wish fulfilling tree) and water vessel. Both his consorts hold white lotus flowers.
14. Maha Ganapati: The great Ganapati is popularly worshipped and seated majestically with one of his shaktis on his knee. He is depicted with three eyes and a crescent moon on his head. He has 10 arms holding tusk, a pomegranate, a sugarcane bow, chakra, noose, a blue lily, a sprig of paddy, a lotus, a mace and ratnakumbha.
15. Nritya Ganapati: It is vibrant form of Ganapati the happy dancer. He has four arms and all the fingers have rings. His hands bear a tusk, goad, noose and modaka, His favorite sweet. It is believed that worshiping Nritya Ganapati will bring proficiency and success for the devotees in fine arts.
16. Rinamochana Ganapati: Ganapati the liberator from debts, grants moksha to His devotees. He has four arms and holds noose, a goad, his broken tusk and his favorite fruit – the rose apple.
17. Sankatahara Ganapati: He is the dispeller of sorrow . He is seated on a lotus and has four arms holding a bowl of pudding, a goad and a noose while gesturing the boon-granting varada mudra. He also has His consort with Him.
18. Shakti Ganapati: As the name suggest it is the powerful form of Lord Ganesha and is a Tantric worship form. He has 4 hands and embraces Shakti Devi seated on his left knee. His right hand is in Abhya Mudra bestows blessing to devotees and the rest hands hold garland, noose and goad.
19. Siddhi Ganapati: It is the accomplished form of Lord Ganesha, where He is in a relaxed form as he masters intellect. He bears in his four hands, a posy of flowers, a mango, a stalk of sugarcane plant with leaves and roots and the battle axe. His trunk curves around a sweet sesame ball.
20. Sinha Ganapati: He is known as the fearless Ganapati and has 8 arms. He is seated on a tiger and displays another lion, a twig from the kalpvriksh, the veena, a lotus flower, a floral bouquet and a pot of gems in his hands. This form symbolizes great courage and strength.
21. Srishti Ganapati: Ganapati in this form is the creator or as the Lord of happy manifestations. He has four hands bearing broken tusk, mango fruit, elephant goad, and noose. He is seated in his favorite Mooshika Vahana. It is believed that He will help his devotees to attain the power of discrimination.
22. Taruna Ganapati: It is the youthful form of Ganesha and is believed that he blesses his devotee with young and beautiful looks. He is depicted as bearing a goad and noose, green paddy, a sugarcane stalk, rose apple and wood apple in His eight hands, which symbolize fertility.
23. Trimukha Ganapati: The three faced Ganapati with 6 arms holding prayer beads, clasp a goad, noose and a pot of nectar. Posture depicts Abhaya mudra on His right hand and varada mudra on His left.
24. Tryakshara Ganapati: Also known as Lord of the three letters (A-U-M). Lord has 3 eyes and 4 hands. He has big floppy ears with fly whisks and hands carries the broken tusk, goad, noose and mango and His trunk often seen grasps modaka.
25. Ucchhishta Ganapati: It means “the lord of blessed offering and the lord of superiority”. The Lord is sitting posture with Shakti Devi on His left thigh. He has 6 hands and the tusk is not curled. His hands hold the veena, a blue lotus, pomegranate, meditation beads and a stalk of paddy.
26. Uddanda Ganapati: He is the enforcer of Dharma and has ten arms well equipped with weapons. His hands bear the blue lily, sugar cane stalk, lotus, mace, noose, paddy, a broken tusk and a garland. He has his consort Sakthi with him.
27. Urdhva Ganapati: It is the elevated Ganapati and is depicted in sitting posture with His consort and has six arms holding single holds sprig of paddy, a lotus, a blue lily, a sugar cane bow, arrow and a mace.
28. Varada Ganapati: Also known as the boon giver Ganapati with 3 eyes, crescent, crown and 4 arms. His hands hold the noose, goad and a pot of honey. He has Devi Shakthi on his side and encloses a pot of jewels in His trunk.
29. Vighna Ganapati: He is also known as the “Lord of Obstacles” as He is the one who removes all the obstacles from the life of His devotees. He has eight arms and His weaponry to fight impediments is the noose, goad, axe, discus and a sharp tusk and the rest of the arms hold flower-tipped arrow, sugarcane and a modak.
30. Vijaya Ganapati: Ganapati the victorious one. He is depicted with seated atop his divine vehicle, Mooshika, the mouse. His four arms bear a broken tusk, noose, goad and a ripe mango.
31. Vira Ganapati: It is the Valiant form of Lord Ganesha and has 16-arms. Lord Ganesh is depicted in the standing posture and strong with a authentic armory of weapons, which include goad, banner, bow and arrow, goblin, discus, sword, shield, large hammer, spear, sword, axe, trident, noose, mace and chakra.It is believed that Vira Ganapati vanquishes both ignorance and evil.
32. Yoga Ganapati: He is a yogic posture with his knees trapped and in complete meditation. His hands hold a stalk of sugar cane, a staff, prayer beads and a noose.
Lord Ganesha is one of the most worshiped deities by Hindus and they believe that he has taken 32 forms to save the devotees from the different issues that may arise in every stages of life. You can find Ganesha in almost all Hindu temples around the world and he is bestowing his devotees with blessings.
Brahmacharni is the second phase of nine Durgas. She is venerated on the 2nd day of Navratri. Here “Brahma” means penance. So, Brahmacharini is one who practices penance.
Bramha refers to the meditative aspect of Brahmacharini and is always depicted as pious women or Sannyasin. She is also worshiped as goddess Tara and is associated with the pious form of Hindu Goddess Shakti. She is believed to be that aspect of Mother Goddess Devi, which was present in Sati and Goddess Parvati, when they both did intense austerities to get Lord Shiva as husband.
Brahmacharini is known for knowledge of scriptures, essence and penance. She is depicted with prayer beads in her right hand and Kamandal in left hand.
Durga is a vicious form of Hindu Goddess Devi, known for her indestructible nature. She is commonly depicted with 18 arms all carrying weapons as she rides atop a fierce tiger. She carries a weapon given to her by each of the Gods including Hindu God Indra’s (God of Destruction) lightning bolt and Hindu God Vishnu’s (The Preserver) Discus. These weapons are endeared to her as a defender of the world. She is frequently seen slaying demons especially the buffalo demon known as Mahishasura. It is said that she was created in order to fight off the incredible might of the asura Mahishasura, who could not be defeated by any male or god alike. Mahishasura had been reigning incredible terror upon the earth and as the gods became helpless, Hindu God Shiva turned to his wife Parvati for help. Parvati responded by traveling to an ashram to take on the role as female goddess warrior. The Gods also turned to Brahman, the supreme creator of all gods, for help and together they banned together emitting beams of light from their bodies. The beam of light expanded to the Ashram where Hindu Godess Parvati had ventured and out of the light Durga was born, a fierce and eager female warrior goddess. She was formed of the female aspects of Brahman just as Shiva had once been formed of Brahmans male counterparts. The gods were blessed and endeared by her. As she fought with the revered Mahishasura she exclaimed:
“Roar with delight while you still can, O illiterate demon, because when I will kill you, the gods themselves will roar with delight”.
Eventually paralyzed by the blinding light constantly emanating from Durga’s body, the buffalo demon was slain with one swift slice of her sword as she erupted in laughter.
This account of her ferocious stand off and conquering of the buffalo demon is celebrated annually in the national festival Durga Puja, which falls on October 19-24th of 2012. As an endeared Goddess, Durga’s divine feminine energies are thought to be a manifestation of all the gods.
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