In Hinduism, the major gods and goddesses have multiple incarnations, meaning they can appear on earth as any number of other deities. Durga is no different; among her many avatars are Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, and Rajeswari.
When Durga appears as herself, she manifests in one of nine appellations or forms: Skondamata, Kusumanda, Shailaputri, Kaalratri, Brahmacharini, Maha Gauri, Katyayani, Chandraghanta, and Siddhidatri. Collectively known as the Navadurga, each of these deities has their own holidays in the Hindu calendar and special prayers and songs of praise.
In Sanskrit, Durga means "a fort" or "a place that is difficult to overrun," an apt metaphor for this deity's protective, militant nature. Durga is sometimes referred to as Durgatinashini, which literally translates into "the one who eliminates sufferings."
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