Durga Parameswari is one of the major deities in the Hindu religion. She is widely revered and is the form of the Goddess Devi. Strength, courage, destruction, motherhood, and wars are some of her common traits. She combats demonic forces who threaten the weak or destroy Dharma, peace, and prosperity. She decimates evil to show that good always triumphs over bad. She unleashes her wrath when she is angry and destroys the evil to liberate the oppressed. There are many Ashta Dasapuja Mahalakshmi Durga Parameswari Temples across Tamil Nadu and South India to honour her and seek the Goddesses’ blessings. Here are some interesting aspects about the Goddess and her temples.
The Appearance of Goddess Durga
Goddess Durga is also Shakti in Hinduism and is the mother or protector of the universe. The meaning of Durga in Sanskrit means ‘fort’ or a place that is difficult to break and is the right metaphor that is apt to her protective and destructive character. All major Gods and Goddesses appear in many incarnations on the earth. Durga too has many avatars and appears in the form of Rajeswari, Kali, Ambika, Bhavani, Lalitha, Bhagavati, Java, and Kundalini. Even when she is in her form, she can manifest herself into various forms like Siddhidatri, Skandamata, Kaalaratri, Maha Gauri, Chandraghanta, Brahmacharini, Kusumanda, Shailaputri, and Katyayani. These are the Navadurgas, with each of these forms having its significance and even special prayers and songs.
Durga’s appearance is that of the role of a protector. She is always ready for battle and has many limbs. In every depiction, she has arms between 8 and 18 and holds an object in each hand. Like her husband, Lord Shiva, she has three eyes, with the left eye representing desire, the middle for knowledge, and the right for action. She carries many weapons to fight against the bad. The most powerful weapon she has is the conch which indicates she is holding God as a form of sound. The bow and arrow show she controls both forms of energy. The thunderbolt represents firmness in convictions and the lotus to remind everyone to stay true despite being in the world of lust and greed. The Sudarshan-chakra signifies that the world spins at her command. The sword in her hands signifies knowledge and the Trishul to reduce suffering.
Temples of Ashta Dasapuja Mahalakshmi
There are many temples of this Goddess in Tamil Nadu; some of them are as below:
Ashta Dasapuja Mahalakshmi Durga Temple, Kurichi Village
This is a temple in Kurichi village on the highway of Pattukttai-Aranthangi road 10 km away from Pattukottai. It is a Mahalakshmi Durga Temple with one of the rarest murtis of Ma Durga. It has nine herbal ingredients called the Navapashana. The murti is 12 feet tall, and the Goddess has 18 hands and is sitting on a lion. The speciality of this Goddess and the temple is that it is a combination of Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Durga.
Another rare aspect of this temple is that there is a Vinayaka murti under a Rudraksha tree which is uncommon. This tree is usually found on the Himalayan foothills in the north and Tirupati in the south. This temple has this tree which is a rarity. Pujas performed in this temple are as per Vedic Agamas. People who perform pujas here get the many benefits of worshipping the three Devis. A popular form of worship is the Tiruvilakku pooja. Also, the devotees can perform puja to the Vinayaka murti themselves, which is unique to this temple.
The significance of this temple is that; devotees get cured of serious and prolonged illnesses, remove obstacles in marriage, childbirth, work, and help attain peace and prosperity in family life.
Ashta Dasapuja Durga Parameshwari Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.
This temple is in Tanjavur, and the presiding deity is Goddess Shakti or Durga Parameshwari. The deity is a protector of the universe from the demons and devils. She is a combined force of the three lords, Lord Shiva, Lord Indira, and Lord Vishnu. The murti holds the conch, bow and arrows, Sudarshan- Chakra, and the Trishul as her weapons. She has 18 arms and is riding on a lion.
Devotees who come to this temple offer prayers and also give sarees as an offering to the Goddess. An offering of Red colour saree denotes the destroyer of evil. It also invokes knowledge and purity. Offering nine yards saree to the nine forms of this Devi is a tradition here. Kumkum is also offered as it denotes prosperity.
Ashta Dasapuja Durga Parameshwari Temple, Mayiladuthurai, Tamil Nadu
It is a Hindu temple for Goddess Shakti and is at Dharmapuram, in the district of Nagapattinam. The temple is in the Adhenaam Mutt. Besides the Durga temple, there are other temples in this mutt. Celebration of The Thiruvilakku Puja happens in this temple which is an important event. The main reason devotees go to this place is: it can ward off ill fate, award peace of mind, overcome obstacles and make life happy and positive.
Durga is a Goddess who helps fight injustice and takes up fights for Goodness. So visit any Durga temples and gain the courage to win against all odds in life.