Dussehra / Maha Navaratri / Durgotsava / Durga Ashtami / Durga Ashtami

Dussehra, It′s a period again to get shaded and lost in the religious enthusiasm of Durga festival that is set apart as a standout amongst the most awaited and greatest Indian festival celebrations. It is time for Goddess Durga and Durga Puja, the main festival of Bengal, bringing a new hope to the hearts of all Bengalis. Durga Puja on Dussehra festival or Durgotsava starts off a series of festivals which ends with Saraswati Puja.

Dusshera festival

 Mahalaya and the pre-dawn recitation from the Chandi announce the arrival of Durgotsava. While the rituals involve ten days of quick, devour and love, the most recent four days, preparations and expectations complete in the Puja days, Shashti, Saptami, Ashtami, and Nabami. People celebrate with much joy and loftiness in India and abroad, particularly in Bengal, where the ten-outfitted goddess is riding the lion admired with incredible enthusiasm and dedication.

Different Forms of Goddess Durga

Although the Goddess Durga is only one, her signs are many. People worship The Goddess Durga as an independent and Supreme Goddess from the early centuries of the Christian era. She is seen riding a lion (Simha-Vahini). Chandi is the image of Durga we find where she appears as Chamundeshwari and Mahishasura-Mardini.

Ten Great Wisdom Forms

In following eras, the Goddess mother observed as the spouse of God Shiva. Here again, there were two classes. In one class both The Goddess Durga and Lord Shiva are equal in power and is referred. As ”Samya” especially in South India. In the other class, called ”Kaula”, the goddess Durga as Kali regarded as the authoritative source and Shiva as the receptive source. This type is most prevalent in Bengal, and also in Kashmir and Kerala.
The Divine Goddess is considered having ”Ten Great Wisdom Forms” (Dasha-mahavidya). These ten Goddesses are:

Tripura Sundari
Bhuvaneshwari
Bagalamukhi
Kali
Bhairavi
Tara
Chhinnamasta
Dhumavati
Matangi (Saraswati)
Kamala (Lakshmi)

Navaratri and Durga Puja

The nine days from opening day of the Moon’s new phase (known as Mahalaya) in the month of Ashwin to ninth day represent the competition of Navaratri. Throughout this period, people worship the Goddess Durga in some form or alternative. Most of the Hindus who can’t worship such festive rituals at home visit Mother’s temple in their locality after taking the bath and wearing fresh clothes. Devotees conclude Dussehra festival on the tenth day in India. Within the northern parts of India, the lifetime of the avatar (known as Ramlila) is enacted publically. People worship household tools, vehicles, metal gadgets, weapons, implements, instruments, etc. in different parts of India and address it as Ayudha Puja. “In Bengal, this prayer of tools takes place on another auspicious day called Vishwakarma Puja.”

Dusshera idols

The celebration of Durga Puja is a unique hallmark of the socio-religious customs of Bengal. Durga Puja or worship of Durga transform the lives of the people so genuinely as it appears throughout in India. Celebrations start from Mahalaya and continue for almost a month. Throughout this period, people put on new garments, worship Goddess Durga at incredible Durga pandals / mandaps installed in various parts of the city or town and enjoy feasts.

The fabulous and memorable aspect of Durga Puja is the image of the Goddess Durga as Mahishasura-Mardini. People notice Goddess Durga with having ten arms, each using a weapon. [Hence She was called as Dasha-prahara-dharini.] Once the image is ordained, and after invoking the Goddess in it, it undergoes a reformation. People believe it is no longer a clay idol or image but the breathing Goddess, spreading power, knowledge, love and joy, the favorable Parent of the Universe who has come to bestow her children and to secure them for her love, help and protection.
Worship of Goddess Durga Puja conducts on another notable feature with attractive Pandal or Durga dalan during Dussehra. Durga Puja is intended for public worship, in which plenty of people engage. Its rituals and materials are quite valuable. Earlier only kings and aristocratic groups could manage to celebrate such common worship. Although, in the current era, Durga Puja is performed through organized society effort. People of a location or street plan a celebration committee, take collections and establish up the grand pandal.

Story of Mahishasura

According to Hindu belief, Mahishasura was a union of both an Asura and aMahisha (Water Buffalo) with a trident. He planned to demolish all the Gods since they were the arch-enemies of Asuras. The Mahishasura is famous in Hindu mythology since the goddess Durga was born to assassinate him. Hence, his story is a big part of shaktiism which adores the Goddess Durga.
Rambha, the king of Asuras, was enticed by the beauty of a she-buffalo and ultimately married her. A baby who was born from this corrupt union and was named Mahishasura, since he was half buffalo and half-human (Mahishareally means Buffalo). As an Asura, Mahishasura wanted to make war against the Gods, who were the Asuras’ arch-enemies. To make himself invulnerable Mahishasura performed rigors (tapas) to Brahma and requested immortality. Brahma rejected the boon of immortality and alternately gave him a blessing such that his death would happen particularly in a woman’s hand.

Mahishasura-Mardini

Mahishasura believed that this was the equivalent of immortality since he thought it was impossible for a woman to kill a person of his power. Inspirited by this belief, he initiated a war with the Gods. In the fight that happened, the Gods were defeated who led by Indra. At this point, the Gods progressed toLord Shiva, The almighty Vishnu and Lord Brahma and to seek help. The three prominent gods combined their eternal strengths and created Goddess Durga. Dussehra Durga commenced a battle facing Mahishasura and destroyed him, thus performing the divination that he would meet his demise in a woman’s hand. In Kerala state, there exists an identical mythicism according to which, Mahishasura had a sister named Mahishi. After the death of Mahishasura, Mahishi resumed the war against Gods.

durga-killing-mahisasura
The traditional story is that Mysore acquires its name from Goddess Durga, Mahishasura Mardini. People of Hindu region believe that they are freed from the Buffalo Beast Mahishasura who had come from near South and controlled the land. This led people to pray to Goddess Durga for aid, and she descended throughout sacred days which is now termed as Maha Navratri and Durga Ashtami or Dussehra. Therefore, the Nine days war took place on Chamundi Hills where he got slain at last. The Dussehra festival is the largest festival, and this describes as Nada Habba which intends, the Karnataka State Festival is also known as Mysore Dasara.

Mythological evidence of Durga Puja

1. Before fighting Ravana, Sri Ramachandra was instructed by Narada to conciliate Devi Durga. As per Hindu mythology, during the six months of the sun’s southward drive, the gods remain sleeping. (They stay awake throughout every six months when the sun goes north) So Rama had to awaken the Goddess first. It is the reason the opening ritual in Durga Puja is the awakening (bodhan) of goddess Durga. When Rama wanted to propitiate Devi, while some other Puranas say it was Brahma who did the awakening. Legend as mentioned earlier found in the Ramayana in Bengali written through Krittivasi Ramayan. It is a translation of the Ramayana into Bengali, Drafted in the traditional Ramayan Panchali form of Middle Bengali literature.
The present day Durga Puja is, thus, a remembrance of the beginning Dussehra Durga Puja performed by Sri Rama.

Dusshera Ram
2. The second myth is about the arrival of Devi Uma from Her abode in Kailash to the house of her parents – Himavat and Menaka. She appears riding a lion. In the Vedas, Kena Upanishad first introduces Uma described asUma Haimavati. It is a traditional belief in Bengal that Uma reaches and stays amidst the people for three days. A complete set of songs, known asAgamani, representing the homecoming of Uma has happened into existence. People sing these songs during the days heralding Durga Puja. Such songs help to spiritualize Hindu mother’s devotion and interest for their married descendants.

3. The third myth is about Sati Devi. ”The Destroyer of Daksha’s sacrifice” Sri Durga is addressed as Daksha-Yajna-vinashini although neither Sati nor Uma mentioning in the Chandi, in some moola-mantra applied in Durga Puja.
Daksha denoted as one of the Prajapati’s and Creators of Nature. He had eight daughters, of whom the earliest was Sati. Upon her father’s wish, Sati Devi married the great God Shiva who was a yogi wearing twisted hair and living an unconventional life on Mount Kailash. After some years, the traveling Rishi Narada arrived Kailash and delivered the news that Daksha was going to conduct a great penance and invitation is sent to which all gods and goddesses, except Sati Devi and Lord Shiva. Although without invitation, Sati left to see her father.

Lord Shiva, Sati devi, Daksha
However Daksha spoke insultingly of Shiva and, helpless to bear the insult, Sati fell dead below. Shiva was naturally angered, and his anger flamed to ashes Daksha and his sacrifice, and then Shiva commenced a dance of destruction. But the gods intruded, and Lord Shiva ultimately returned to start doing meditation in Mount Kailash. Sati happened to reborn as Parvati which, after years of great tapas, made Shiva as Her Lord once again.
The mul-manthra, Daksha-Yajna-vinashinyai, refers to the end of Daksha’s sacrifice mentioned above. It is, however, quite clear that this great Manthra has some deeper mystical, secret meaning far beyond the mythological result.

4. The word Durga means one who ‘protects like a fort’ or one who ‘destroys the evil consequences’ of our operations (durgati-nashini). Goddess Durga is often relating to simply as Devi, and seldom as Ambika in the Chandi. Durga Devi is self-governing, treated as supreme Fury and is not an associate of either male God. She is oldest scriptures covering Mother Worship, and It was apparently composed of the bigoted divisions of Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism listed in Hinduism. Hence The Power of Lord Vishnu referred to as Devi and addressed as Narayani repeatedly.

Durga idol immersion
Durga, the Mother Goddess is the image of all the desirable and genuine qualities which characterize the Supreme Being. Of every one of her structures, Devi Dussehra Durga is a definitive representation of unbounded force, pure, clean as fresh snow and quality of reason, which dwells inside the ethereal embodiment of each being.

Ya Devi sarva bhuteshu Matri rupena samsthita
Ya Devi sarva bhuteshu Shakti rupena samsthita
Ya Devi sarva bhutesu Shanti rupena samsthita
Namestasyai Namestasyai Namestasyai Namoh Namah

Photo Courtesy: Sudipta Das