Devi: The Great Goddess
Devi (in Sanskrit and in English)
HomepageAspects of Devi
Local Protector
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Seven sisters on a pedestal. Lent by Leo S. Figiel, M.D.
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Durga beneath a Sunburst Medallion. Lent by Leo S. Figiel, M.D.
Local Protector
As local protector of villages and towns and individual tribal peoples, Devi encompasses local goddesses as well as local variations on the Great Goddess whose aspect as cosmic force have already been noted. The Indian countryside is dotted with numerous wayside shrines that are often located at the threshold of villages. Except for those dedicated to local heroes these shrines are invariably "mata" or mother goddess shrines. Sometimes a "mata" shrine encloses nothing more than an earthen water pot with molded clay protrusions that symbolize the nourishing breasts of the goddess.
At other times, a rock smeared with saffron and vermillion speaks of her presence. On occasion, a simply modeled stone image serves to invoke the deity. These goddesses, who are concerned only with local affairs, are all-important in the villages and tribal areas. They give an immediacy to worship that cannot be provided by the great male gods, Vishnu and Shiva, who are usually enshrined in temples in the major towns. Click for full image and description.
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A household shrine of the goddess Renuka. Photo by Cornelia Mallebrein.

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The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560.
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