Categories: Hindu God and Goddess

12 Forms of Adishakti in Bengal

Goddess Shakti, also known as Adishakti or Divine Mother, is considered the Supreme Being in Hindu Shaktism. She has various names like Paramashakti, Mahashakti, Mahagouri, Mahadevi, Mahalakshmi etc. The stories of her different forms are found in Hindu Puranas. In Bengal, twelve forms of the Goddess are closely connected with the twelve months of the Bengali calendar. Here are these forms:

Adishakti

Gandheshwari

Goddess Gandheshwari is revered during the first Bengali month, Boishakh. Perfumers primarily worship her, and this community in Bengal strongly advocates her worship. It’s believed that Bengal enjoys an abundance of perfumes thanks to her blessings, resulting in a thriving perfume business among Bengali perfumers.

Phalaharini

Phalaharini, or Phalaharini Kali, represents a form of Adishakti in the Tantric tradition. Devotees worship this manifestation of the Goddess to eliminate the effects of bad actions, known as Karma Phala. Even today, Phalaharini is revered throughout Bengal during the month of Jaishtha. The Phalaharini Puja is observed on the Amavasya day in Jaishtha, commemorating her power to dispel the consequences of negative deeds.

Phalaharini Kali Puja holds special significance in the life of the saint Ramakrishna and his wife Sarada Devi. On this day in 1872, Ramakrishna (one of the top 10 spiritual gurus of Bengal) worshipped Sarada Devi as the goddess Shodashi, symbolizing their deep spiritual connection and devotion.

Kamakshya

The Ambubachi festival, which falls at the beginning of the month of Ashar, is indeed significant in the worship of Goddess Kamakshya, a form of Goddess Shakti. It is believed to be a celebration of fertility in Bengal. The traditional saying you mentioned, “6 Ashar Ambubachi, tar nei kono Panjipunthi,” highlights the fixed date of the festival and its importance, as it doesn’t require a festival calendar. This festival is an important cultural and religious event in the region, drawing devotees from far and wide to seek blessings from Goddess Kamakshya.

Shakambhari

Goddess Shakambhari is indeed associated with the abundance of nature, particularly in the month of Shravan. She is believed to bring forth the greenery and vegetables in the fields of Bengal during this time. While the worship of Goddess Shakambhari may have become rare in many places, it’s possible that in some remote villages or specific communities in Bengal, her worship is still maintained as a traditional practice. Cultural and religious traditions often vary and persist in different ways across regions and communities.

Parvati

The belief that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati represent Purusha and Prakriti respectively, symbolizing the union that sustains life in the world, is a central theme in Hindu mythology. In the Bengali calendar, the worship of Goddess Parvati, especially during the month of Bhadra, holds significance due to the belief that Lord Shiva met her for the first time during this month. This association with Bhadra makes Parvati an adored goddess in Bengal during that time, and her worship is an integral part of the region’s religious and cultural traditions.

Durga

Goddess Durga

The worship of Goddess Durga during the month of Ashwin in Bengal is indeed a significant and elaborate celebration known as Durga Puja. This festival is dedicated to Goddess Durga, who is revered as the killer of Durgamasura. As you mentioned, the Akalbodhana form of Adishakti mentioned in the Ramayana (Valmiki Ramayana) is believed to be associated with this worship, and over time, elements of Mahisasurmardini and Goddess Parvati were incorporated into the Durga Puja tradition. This blending of various aspects of the goddess and her role as Mahisasurmardini, along with her identity as the mother of four children, has made Durga Puja one of the most prominent and widely celebrated Hindu festivals in Bengal and beyond.

Jagaddhatri

Goddess Jagaddhatri is indeed worshipped in the month of Kartik and is revered as the protector of the world. The legend you mentioned from the Katyayani Tantra, where Indra, Agni, Vayu, and Chandra became arrogant and were reminded of their power’s source by the appearance of Goddess Jagaddhatri, is a well-known narrative associated with her. The name “Jagaddhatri” itself signifies her role as the “Mother of the World” or the one who sustains and protects the universe. Her worship is an important tradition in Bengal and is marked with devotion and celebration during the Kartik month.

Katyayani

Goddess Katyayani‘s worship in the month of Agrahayan, with a focus on fulfilling desires related to marriage and children, is indeed a well-known tradition in Hinduism. The story of the gopinis of Braj worshipping Katyayani with the intention of marrying Lord Krishna is a popular narrative from Hindu mythology. In Bengal, the worship of Goddess Katyayani in Agrahayan may have been introduced as part of regional customs and traditions, adapting the worship to the local context. Different regions often have variations in the timing and customs associated with the worship of specific deities, while still sharing common themes and beliefs.

Poushkali

The worship of Poushkali, often associated with the offering of radishes (Mulo), is a unique tradition in Bengal. This form of Adishakti is revered as Mokshadankarini, the goddess who blesses devotees with Moksha or salvation. It’s interesting to know that due to the significance of radishes in this worship, some people refer to this puja as ‘Mulokali Pujo,’ highlighting the connection between the vegetable and the goddess. These regional variations and customs add depth and diversity to the religious practices in different parts of Bengal.

Ratantikali

The worship of Ratantikali in the Kali temples of Bengal during the month of Magh is a significant tradition. Ratantikali is revered as a form of Goddess Shakti and is considered the protector of home peace. Devotees seek her blessings for happiness and harmony in worldly life. The fact that her worship is specifically performed on Krishna Chaturdashi in the month of Magh reflects the importance of timing and ritual in this tradition. These practices are a testament to the rich and diverse tapestry of Goddess worship in Bengal, each form holding unique significance for devotees.

Sankatnashini

The worship of Goddess Sankatnashini in the month of Falgun, particularly at the onset of spring, is carried out with the intention of seeking protection from various diseases and crises that may arise during that time in Bengal. Devotees pray to this form of Adishakti to safeguard them from adversity and ensure their well-being. This tradition reflects the deep faith and belief in the protective power of the goddess in the face of challenges and uncertainties. It’s a testament to the spiritual and cultural significance of goddess worship in the lives of the people of Bengal.

Basanti

The worship of Goddess Basanti during the spring season, especially in the month of Chaitra, is a celebration of abundance in nature. It’s interesting to note that Basanti Puja is considered a form of celebrating Durga Puja, and it is believed that this aspect of Goddess Shakti brings forth fertility and fills the earth with grains during this time. Additionally, the worship of Adishakti in the form of Annapurna in the month of Chaitra is a way to acknowledge the importance of nourishment and sustenance that she provides. These customs and traditions highlight the deep connection between nature, agriculture, and spirituality in the cultural fabric of Bengal.

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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