– Dr A Pranesh
Chamunda Devi temple is located in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, about 10 kms west of Palampur. The goddess is in the form of Pindi. The goddess is flanked by idols of Hanuman and Bhairav.
Chamunda is also known as Chamundeshwari and Chamundi. She is the fearsome aspect of Devi and one of the seven Matrikas. The name of this Devi is a combination of Chanda and Munda, the two demons whom she killed. She is closely associated with Kali and also identified with Parvati and Durga.
The goddess Chamunda Devi is depicted as black or red colored, wearing garland of skulls. She is described as having 4, 8, 10 or 12 arms, holding Damaru, Trishula, sword, Snake, Khatvanga, Thunderbolt, a severed head and a skull cup- Kapala filled with blood. She is standing on a corpse or demon. Chamunda Devi is described as having three eyes, terrifying face, protruding tongue and long nails. She is adorned with ornaments of skulls, serpents and scorpions. She wears Yajnopavitha- the sacred thread and wears Jatamukuta with a crescent Moon. She has fearsome companions like Jackals, demons and goblins drinking blood from Kapala. This type of drinking blood of enemies is the typical quality of Matrikas, especially Chamunda.
In Devi Mahatmya, Chamunda emerged as Chandika Jayasundara from an eyebrow of goddess Kabushiki, who was created from the sheath of Devi Durga. They were assigned the task of killing demons Chanda and Munda, who were generals of demon king Shumba and Nishumba. Chamunda fought a fierce battle with these demons and killed them. Then she took the slain heads of two demons to goddess Kabushiki, who was immensely pleased and blessed Chandika Jayasundara and bestowed the title of Chamunda for killing Chanda and Munda.
According to another episode of Devi Mahatmya, Devi Durga created Matrikas and killed Shumba and Nishumba. Here Kali is described as a Matrika, who sucked all the blood from demon Raktabijasura and Kali was given the name Chamunda. Thus Devi Mahatmya identifies Chamunda with Kali.
Chamunda is the only Matrika who is worshipped independently on her own, where as all other Matrikas are always worshipped together. Chamunda Devi is assigned the direction of south east. Kshatriyas and Jains worship her as Kuladevi or family deity.
There is another temple of Goddess Chamunda called Chamundeshwari on Chamundi hills in Mysore, Karnataka. Here the goddess is identified with Durga, who killed the buffalo demon Mahishasura. Devi Chamundeshwari is held with great reverence for centuries by Kings of Mysore.