Todays most authentic form of the Bengalee Durga is that of a ten handed goddess modelled out of clay astride a lion. Each of those hands carry a separate weapon in them except two, which holds the spear which has been struck into the chest of the demon, Mahishasura. Half the body of the demon, i.e. the lower portion of it, is still a buffalo, and the demon seems to be coming out of that form. In most of the cases, the head of a buffalo is seen lying beneath. One majestic thing about the image of Durga is that, the face shows more of motherly feelings than that of a demon killer. This form of the Goddess is actually the representation of Uma, the daughter of Daksha (Himalaya) and Menoka, than the fiery devi Durga, the killer of the demon. Therefore, to add to these feelings, the four children of the Goddess had also been added to the iconography - Laxmi (The goddess of wealth), Saraswati (the Goddess of knowledge), Kartick (the God of beauty as well as warfare) and Ganesha (the 'Siddhidata' or the starter of everything in good sense). There are, however, many instances of deviations from this form of the idol. In Cooch-Behar in West Bengal, the 'Rajbanshis' worship a form where the Goddess is on a tiger instead of the usual lion. Other forms of the goddess are worshipped in different parts of West Bengal under the names like 'Rajrajeshwari', 'Sarbamangala' etc. The 'Vaishnavas' form of the Durga stands on a lion with a horse-face. The basic idea, however, does not differ, that being of worshipping the supreme energy who comes to be your mother.
The community pujas started venturing with newer forms of the Goddess during the seventies. The separate existence of the children of the Goddess was emphasised and hence, the ekchala form was replaced by a newer style where there were five separate idols within the same pandal. With the growing popularity of Hindi films in the eartern parts of India, some of the images of the Goddess even started resembling the popular film actresses. But the latest addition to it is attributed to the extreme popularity of the film 'Jurrasic Park', where the Goddess was found to be astride a 'T-Rex' dinossaur. This was a model used in 1995 in some of the community Pujas. The experimentation with different forms of the Goddess has resulted in evolution of forms like the oriental form of the image, the neo-classical model, the Shiv-Durga models and the Navadurga, where nine different forms of the goddess are shown in nine different idols within the same pandal. Another step towards normalisation of the Godddess and bringing her nearer to the Bengalee household has been taken by the 'Bramhakumaris', who believe that the Goddess is actually inside everyone. Their form of the Goddess is therefore alive, in the real sense of the word, where ladies from this group put on the Godly apparel and sit inside the pandals depicting the Durga and her children. They have also experimented with the 'Navadurga' form. There are other forms of the Goddess also and experimentation is still continuing in this line. However, the orthodox have always been against all these experiments as usual and thus, the ekchala form of the Goddess is also visible in many places thanks to their patronage.
Durga Puja Stuttgart Homepage