Masks Picture

The following photo is of a mask of Maa Durga (yellow mask). Lord Ganesha (pink mask with trunk) & Maa Kali.

According to the Hindu Mythology:
Durga -
(Sanskrit: "the inaccessible" or "the invincible") or Maa Durga (Mother Durga) is a form of Devi, the supreme goddess. Goddess Durga is considered by Hindus to be the mother of Ganesha, Kartikeya, as well of Saraswati and Lakshmi. She is thus considered the fiercer, demon-fighting form of Shiva's wife, goddess Parvati.

Durga is depicted as a warrior aspect of Devi Parvati with 10 arms who rides a lion or a tiger, carries weapons and assumes mudras, or symbolic hand gestures. This form of the Goddess is the embodiment of feminine and creative energy (Shakti).

Ganesha -
also spelled Ganesa or Ganesh and known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is one of the best-known and most-worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon; his image is found throughout India. Hindu sects worship him regardless of other affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India.

Although he is known by many other attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles and more generally as Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles (Vighnesha, Vighneshvara), patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom. He is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies and invoked as Patron of Letters during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits and explain his distinct iconography.

Ganesha emerged as a distinct deity in clearly-recognizable form in the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta Period, although he inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. His popularity rose quickly, and he was formally included among the five primary deities of Smartism (a Hindu denomination) in the 9th century. A sect of devotees called the Ganapatya, who identified Ganesha as the supreme deity, arose during this period. The principal scriptures dedicated to Ganesha are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa.

Kali -
A Hindu goddess with a long and complex history in Hinduism. Although sometimes presented as dark and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation still has some influence, while more complex Tantric beliefs sometimes extend her role so far as to be the Ultimate Reality (Brahman) and Source of Being. She is also known and revered as Bhavatarini (meaning: redeemer of the universe Dakshineswar Kali Temple). Finally, the comparatively recent devotional movement largely conceives of Kali as a straightforwardly benevolent mother-goddess. Therefore, as with her association with the Deva (god) Shiva, Kali is associated with many Devis (goddesses) - Durga, Bhadrakali, Bhavani, Sati, Rudrani, Parvati, Chinnamasta, Chamunda, Kamakshi or kamakhya, Uma, Meenakshi, Himavanti, Kumari and Tara. These names, if repeated, are believed to give special power to the worshipper. She is the foremost Goddess among the Dasa Mahavidyas.

"black, dark coloured" (per Panini 4.1.42). It appears as the name of a form of Durga in Mahabharata 4.195, and as the name of an evil female spirit in Harivamsa 11552.

The homonymous kala "appointed time", which depending on context can mean "death", is distinct from kala "black", but became associated through popular etymology. The association is seen in a passage from the Mahabhrata, depicting a female figure who carries away the spirits of slain warriors and animals. She is called kalaratri (which Thomas Coburn, a historian of Sanskrit Goddess literature, translates as "night of death") and also kali; (which, as Coburn notes, can be read here either as a proper name or as a description "the black one").

Kali's association with blackness stands in contrast to her consort, Shiva, whose body is covered by the white ashes of the cremation ground (Sanskrit: samsana) in which he meditates, and with which Kali is also associated, as samsana kali.

A Word About Masks -
Masks are an important part of any culture that exits. Over a period of time they have evovlved in many different ways.

Throughout the world masks are used for their expressive power as a feature of masked performance. They are a familiar and vivid element in many folk and traditional pageants, ceremonies, rituals and festivals. Many of these are of an ancient origin. The mask is often a part of costume that adorns the whole body and embodies a tradition important to a particular society of people.

It is often assumed that masks are exotic artifacts limited to Third World cultures, whereas masks are used almost universally and maintain their power and mystery both for their wearers and their audience, retaining an important place in the religious and social life of the community. The continued popularity of wearing masks at carnival, and for children at parties.

The mask is also used in theatrical performance. In many cultural traditions the masked performer is a central concept and is highly valued.

Ritual masks occur throughout the world, and although they tend to share many characteristics, highly distinctive forms have developed. The function of the masks may be magical or religious; they may appear in rites of passage or as a make-up for a form of theatre. Equally masks may disguise a penitent or preside over important ceremonies; they may help mediate with spirits, or offer a protective role to the society who utilise their powers.

Masked characters, usually divinities, are a central feature of Indian dramatic forms, many based on depicting the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. Countries that have had strong Indian cultural influences – Cambodia, Burma, Java, Thailand, Vietnam – have developed the Indian forms, combined with local myths, and developed their own characteristic styles.

The masks are usually highly exaggerated and formalised, and share an aesthetic with the carved images of monstrous heads that dominate the facades of Hindu and Buddhist temples. These faces or Kirtimukhas, 'Visages of Glory', are intended to ward off evil and are associated with the animal world as well as the divine. During ceremonies these visages are given active form in the great mask dramas of the South and South-eastern Asian region.

(The photo was taken at a cultural carnival taking place near New Delhi, India)
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