Chase Side, Southgate
London, England N14 5PP

Sanatan Bengali Association (NL) is a new non profit organisation made up of young and professional Hindus, whose sole motive is to ensure that our rich culture and tradition is maintained, even whilst far away from shores. We perform Saraswati, Durga and Kali Puja and organise cultural programmes.

Symbolism in Durga Puja

A symbol is something which is used to suggest or represent something. For example, a dove is a symbol of peace. All our contact with the world outside is based on symbols. Our art, our poetry, in fact every aspect of life is based on symbols. In Hinduism there are two types of symbols: the sound symbols found in the mantras and the form symbols of different types of deities. Form symbols are no other than various “symbols” of God’s power and glory. Through such real and definite symbols a Hindu tries to establish contact with the indefinable God because the highest reality cannot be approached through senses. Just as a photograph of a persons friend is not his real friend but only reminds him of his friend, so also an image or protima, symbolises some powers or glories of God is never thought by a Hindu to be God himself. It only helps him to remember God. That is why Hindus often put away the images after worship and immerse them in either lakes or rivers.

The Durga Puja is done in the image during the Navaratri. The image of Durga is not alone. There are a number of images of deities worshipped along with the mother. Lakshmi and Saraswati are presented as standing and Kartika and Ganesh as sitting on their mounts on her two sides. The Mother is represented as fighting with the demon Mahishasura mentioned in the Chandi. She stands on a lion and fights with her ten hands adorned with different weapons.

Durga, the highest Reality, is realised with great difficulty. Being the personification of the collective powers of the Gods, she is naturally difficult to approach or to know. The symbolic meaning here is that without the helpful effort of many nothing constructive is achieved in this world. But, being the mother of the universe, she is the personification of tender love when we ask her for something humbly and earnestly. She fights Mahishasura, the demon, who represents the law of the jungle that might is right. He is the ruthless brute force that does not brook any opposition where selfish ends are concerned. And he succeeded even against the Gods, but only when they were divided. But he fell before their combined powers and the will to fight. Mahishsura stands for ignorance and stubborn egoism. Its subjugation and conquest are possible only when the worshipper pools all his energies together and fights it with a will which holds on firmly and persistently.

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Added by santanupal on October 9, 2007

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