link rel = "image_src” href=”preview-image-here.jpg” / expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' link rel = "image_src” href=”preview-image-here.jpg” / expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' Sukanya's musings: STORY OF NAVARATHRI

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005


“Nava” means nine and Rathri (means night). So as the name says it all, it is a festival of nine nights. This festival as most festivals of India is celebrated to rejoice the triumph of good over evil.

This festival also marks the start of the Autumn season, a prelude to winter

(As India doesn’t actually have Autumn, but during this period, the weather is very pleasant, it is not very hot, nor is it raining, and just the beginning of winter, so it isn’t very cold)

There are different stories that go to say why this festival is celebrated.

One story goes to say :
Celebrates Lord Rama's victory over the evil Rakshasa (demon) Ravana. That’s thhe reason they have the Ramleela (story of Rama) plays during the nine nights and burn the effigy of Ravana on the tenth day, signifying that the demon was killed by Lord Rama.

Truimph of Good over Evil. This celebration is done usually in the North of India

The other story is :

The Goddess took the form of Navadurgas to kill the Asura (demon) Mahishasura. That is why she is also called as MAHISHASURAMARDHINI (The one who killed Mahishasura). This is why we celebrate Navarathri in the south.

Here goes the story of Mahishasura

The Devas are divine personalities while the Asuras are demons. "Ramba" and "Karamba" were the sons of "Dhanu". Once both Ramba and Karamba undertook severe penance. Karamba had immersed himself up to neck-deep in water and Ramba in blazing fire to propitiate Lord Agni (the Lord of Fire). "Devendra", the king of Devas has foreseen the danger to his throne. He assumed the form of a crocodile, and killed Karamba while he was in deep meditation in the water. Ramba after realizing his brother’s fate got frightened and prepared to commit suicide. Lord Agni couldn’t stand by at this juncture as one of his most devout disciples was preparing to commit suicide because of what Devendra had done to Karamba. Therefore, Lord Agni appeared before Ramba and asked him what boon he wanted. Ramba requested for a son who could not be killed by the Devas, Asuras or men. The boon was granted.

On his way back home, Ramba met a beautiful female buffalo. One should also remember that all Asuras were believed to have buffalo head. The male buffalo (male Asura) is called "Mahishan" and the female buffalo (female Asura) is called "Mahishi". He fell in love with her at first sight and decided to take her home. They had to halt a night in a jungle during their trip back home. At midnight while Mahishan (Ramba) was making love with the Mahishi, another wild male buffalo got intervened and killed Ramba. The grief-stricken she-buffalo also gave up her life by jumping into the funeral fire of Ramba. It is a fact in the myth that once a boon is given, under any circumstances the boon has to materialize. Therefore a baby boy is born from the funeral fire of Ramba and the she-buffalo. The boy is later named as "Mahishasura".

Mahishasura the demon was born as a union of Rambha and a she buffalo (Mahishi) and consequently was a half man and half buffalo. The mighty demon was rendered more powerful as a result of the boon from God Agni given to his father bestowed upon him,

Mahishasura was brought up by Ramba’s (his father’s) relatives who trained him to be their king.

Mahishasura was very power hungry.

He worshipped Lord Brahma and performed severe penance for a boon. The Lord was pleased and appeared before him. Mahishasura obtained a boon from Lord Brahma by which no man could kill him. Mahisha forgot to mention that “ No woman could kill him”. He thought that he can easily overpower any woman with his powers. This was what brought his downfall later.

After receiving the boon, Mahishasura began expanding his kingdom. He was a big threat to the existence of the entire universe. Believing that he had become invincible, Mahisha along with his asuras attacked the devas. A fierce battle took place between the Devas and the Asuras. The Devas lost and the Asuras then captured the heavens. No God, be it Indra, the king of the Hindu gods, or be it Kumara, commander of the armies in heaven, could defeat him. All the Devas had to flee from heaven. The defeated and extremely helpless Devas then approached Lord Vishnu to help them.

Vishnu first took the form of Narasimha and then that of Varaha, but failed to defeat Mahishasura. They then approached Lord Shiva. Shiva opened his third eye, which could destroy all the three worlds, to set free the fire of disaster. But that was also in vain. After this they approached Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma had given the boon to the demon, so they requested him to come up with something to destroy the demon.

The God’s then decided to create a Goddess out of the collective powers or 'Tejas' of all the God's.

Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, with the help of Goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvathi and the other Gods brought out flames out of their mouth embodying their collective energy (shakti).

Out of these flames was born DURGA.

Since Durga was born out of the combined power of the Gods, she would possess their combined powers and also the combined beauty of the female Trinity.

The Gods then gifted Durga with ten different weapons, she was armed by a trident from Shiva, a Chakra from Vishnu, bows and arrows from Vayu, They gave her wonderful garbs to wear and Himalaya offered her a Lion. Astride the lion, the devi began to roar.

The Goddess filled with the combined power and anger (since she was born out of fire) of all the Gods was fierce to behold and her very sight scared the demons. The Devi was frightening, yet beautiful!

Durga provoked Mahishasura by her laughter to wage war with her. To see what had happened, Mahishasura came out of his palace. Although the goddess scared the demons just by sight, Mahishasura was ready for a fight. He accepted the challenge, he sent the brave and strongest warriors of his army, (Chikshur, Chamar, Mahahanu, Biralaksha, Vakshal) to attack the Goddess. The Goddess killed them all. Finally Mahisha came to battle with Durga.

Then Mahisha attacked the Goddess. and a fierce battle ensued Mahishasura assumed the form of a wild buffalo and using his hooves, tail and mouth, he started hurting the devas who were there to assist the Devi. The Devi then caught Mahisha in a noose. Mahisha then assumed the shape of a lion. The Devi chopped the Lion's head. Mahisha then assumed the form of a man carrying a sword. On killing that, the asura assumed the form of an elephant. The Devi chopped off the elephant's trunk. Mahisha again assumed the form of a buffalo. The battle ensued for nine days and nine nights. On the 10th Day however, Goddess Durga picked up a bowl of nectar, slowly sipping it she looked at Mahisha and suddenly, she jumped on Mahisha's back. With one foot she pressed down his throat and she pushed her (trident) into Mahisha. Mahisha assuming his demon form emerged from the buffalo. Using her sword, the devi then chopped off Mahish's head. Mahisha died.

The Gods, rid of the demon, showered the Goddess with innumerable praises and with reverence prayed to her to appear every time they were in need of her. Granting the same to the Gods, she disappeared to appear again when called with devotion

The battle between Durga and Mahishasura and Mahishasura being killed by the Devi are ritually performed in Kerala as "Mahishasura Vadham" even nowadays.

In some places, it is believed that Shakti, takes the form of Navadurgas to kill Mahishasura. On the tenth day, the Goddess kills the asura, and that day is called Vijayadashami (Dashami is ten and Vijaya means victory). Hence, she is also known as Mahishasuramardhini- the one who vanquished the demon, Mahisha.

Vijayadashami (Also known as Dassera) marks the beginning of good tidings and the elimination of evil forces.

It is believed that Rama also worshipped the Goddess before killing Ravana in the battle.

Hope you'll enjoyed the story of Navarathri.

1 comment:

  1. Wow such an nice blog and awesome story of navratri.Thank you so much.Special pujas are also performed to seek the blessing of the goddess durga.Nine forms of durga is workshipped each day. Want to know More Aabout Navratri click here


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