The Mythos and Celebration of Durga Puja and Navaratri

India is home to the ancient cultures and traditions of Hinduism. Every Autumn during the month of Ashwin, people across the country celebrate different festivities. Each of these festivals of Durga Puja, Navaratri, and Dussehra emphasizes the victory of good over evil.   

But what’s the actual lore behind these festivals? In this blog, we are going to explore their stories and significance. 

durga puja

1. The mythology of Durga Puja

Generally celebrated in September or October of the English calendar, Durga Puja is dedicated to Goddess Durga, a form of Parvati, Shiva’s consort.   

Elaborate festivities are held in the states of West Bengal, Odissa, Assam, and Tripura. In Bengal, where celebrations are famous worldwide, people celebrate the homecoming of their daughter, Durga, along with her four children – Kartikeya, Ganesha, Saraswati, and Lakshmi.   

While the calendar duration of the celebrations is for ten days, the five days hold the most significance.   

In the mythological story, Mahishasura (a shape-shifting demon) wreaks havoc on the Gods. Because of his boon, no man could kill the demon, making it almost impossible for him to be defeated.   

After much deliberation, the Gods come together with the trinity of Supreme Gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh, to convince Parvati to save humankind from his evils. Each of them presents Parvati with their weapons of war to aid her in battle.   

As the battle rages on for ten days, the demon is finally defeated by Parvati in her Durga form on the last day, popularly known as Vijayadashami.   

2. Akalbadhan – Untimely invocation of the Goddess

In some versions of the Ramayana, predominantly found in Eastern India, Rama worships the ten-handed Goddess Durga before going to war with Ravana. This is the reason why the Durga Puja held in the Autumn months is known as Akalbodhan.   

Before the lore of Akalbodhan, Durga Puja was celebrated during the Spring months of the year.   

Navaratri and Durga puja coincide in time and theme. Each of the nine days is dedicated to one form of the Goddess, collectively known as Navadurga. Here’s a look at the days, along with their associated avatars.   

  • Day 1 – Shailaputri  
    Shailaputri translates to “daughter of the mountains” and is one of Parvati’s incarnations.   
  • Day 2 – Brahmacharini  
    The second day celebrates Parvati as an unmarried Yogini, carrying a rosary or japmala along with a kamandal (water pot) and walking barefoot.   
  • Day 3 – Chandraghanta  
    In this avatar, the Goddess is worshiped with a half-lit moon on her forehead after Shiva’s marriage.   
  • Day 4 – Kushmanda  
    This form of Parvati is revered for her creative energy and credited with the earth and all its vegetation. She commands eight arms and sits on a tiger.   
  • Day 5 – Skandamata  
    Skanda is another name for Kartikeya, and on the fifth day of Navaratri, Goddess Durga is worshipped as his mother.   
  • Day 6 – Katyayani  
    Durga was born as the daughter of sage Katyayan, and in this four-handed form, she rides a lion. This is one of the most fearsome forms of the Goddess.   
  • Day 7 – Kaalaratri  
    Another ferocious avatar of Durga, this form is worshipped on the 7th day and revered for vanquishing Raktabeej (a demon who could be reborn thousand times from one drop of blood). 
      
    In this form, her complexion turns dark with bloodshot fiery eyes.   
  • Day 8 – Mahagauri  
    On the 8th day, devotees celebrate her as Mahagauri, the Goddess of intelligence and peace. It is believed that the Goddess came into this form after taking a dip in the Ganges as Kaalaratri.   
  • Day 9 – Siddhidhatri  
    Siddhidhatri is celebrated sitting on a lotus, ready to bless her devotees with boons. This form of Parvati can also be seen merged with Lord Shiva as Ardhanarishwara, half-man, and half-woman.   

That’s the story behind Durga Puja in Navaratri. Much like Dussehra, it focuses on the triumph of good over evil, restoring balance in the universe. Share your Durga Puja and Navaratri experience in the comments below!   

Enjoyed reading this? Then we also suggest you head to 5 Women Philanthropists from India Who Made a Difference During the Pandemic.

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