What is the story behind Durga Puja?

Durga Puja is a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. According to one legend, Mahishasura was a powerful buffalo-demon who obtained a boon from Lord Brahma that he could not be killed by any man or god. He then waged war against the gods and conquered heaven. The gods were helpless and sought the help of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, who created Durga from their combined energies. Durga was endowed with ten arms and various weapons, and rode on a lion. She fought with Mahishasura for nine days and nights, and finally killed him on the tenth day, which is called Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra. Durga Puja is celebrated to honour her for her nine-day fierce battle against Mahishasura⁶.

Another legend says that Durga Puja was first performed by Lord Rama, who invoked the goddess before going to war with Ravana, the king of Lanka who had abducted his wife Sita. Rama performed the puja in the autumn season, which was different from the usual springtime worship of Durga. This is why Durga Puja is also known as Akal Bodhan or out-of-season worship⁴.

Durga Puja is one of the most important festivals of India, especially in Bengal, where it is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion. The festival involves the installation of clay idols of Durga and her four children – Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kartikeya and Ganesha – in pandals or temporary structures that are decorated with various themes and motifs. The idols are worshipped for five days, from Saptami to Dashami, and then immersed in water on the last day. The festival also includes cultural programs, music, dance, art, food and pandal hopping⁵.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 22/10/2023
(1) Durga Puja 2023: Date, Facts and Rituals – InstaAstro. https://instaastro.com/festivals/durga-puja/.
(2) The History and Origin of the Durga Puja Festival – Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/the-history-and-origin-of-durga-puja-1770159.
(3) Durga Puja – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durga_Puja.
(4) INNOVATIVE DURGA PUJA PANDALS. https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/innovative-durga-puja-pandals/3283252/.
(5) Durga Puja: A Celebration of Faith and Culture in Kolkata, India. https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/durga-puja-a-celebration-of-faith-and-culture-in-kolkata-india/ar-AA1iCw5F.
(6) How’s Bengaluru celebrating Durga Puja this year?. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/hows-bengaluru-celebrating-durga-puja-this-year/articleshow/104583396.cms.

What is the full story of the battle?

The story of Durga and Mahishasura is a tale of the victory of good over evil, and the power of the divine feminine. Here is a summary of the story based on the sources I found¹²³⁴⁵⁶:

Mahishasura was a powerful buffalo-demon who wanted to become immortal and conquer the world. He performed a long and hard penance to please Lord Brahma, the creator god. Brahma was impressed by his devotion and granted him a boon that he could not be killed by any man or god. Mahishasura was overjoyed and became arrogant. He started to terrorize the people on earth and the gods in heaven. He defeated the army of Indra, the king of gods, and occupied his throne.

The gods were helpless and sought the help of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, the preserver and the destroyer gods. They decided to create a new goddess from their combined energies to fight Mahishasura. The goddess was named Durga, which means “the invincible”. She had ten arms and various weapons given by the gods. She rode on a lion, which symbolized her courage and strength.

Durga challenged Mahishasura to a battle and he accepted. The battle lasted for nine days and nights, during which Mahishasura changed his shape many times to confuse and attack Durga. He became a lion, an elephant, a snake, and finally a buffalo. But Durga matched his every move and countered his every attack. On the tenth day, she pierced his chest with her trident and cut off his head with her sword. She then placed her foot on his corpse and roared in triumph.

The gods rejoiced at Durga’s victory and praised her as Mahishasuramardini, which means “the slayer of Mahishasura”. They also offered her their gratitude and worship. The people on earth celebrated her as their savior and protector. The nine days of battle are now celebrated as Navratri, which means “nine nights”. The tenth day, which is the day of victory, is celebrated as Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra, which means “the tenth day”.

This is the story of Durga and Mahishasura. I hope you found it interesting and inspiring. 😊

Source: Conversation with Bing, 22/10/2023
(1) Maa Durga’s Slaying of the Demon Mahishasura: The Epic Battle of Good and Evil. https://www.timesnownews.com/astrology/maa-durgas-slaying-of-the-demon-mahishasura-the-epic-battle-of-good-and-evil-article-104600086.
(2) Durga Puja 2023: Meet the descendants of Mahishasura. https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/durga-puja-2023-meet-the-descendants-of-mahishasura/ar-AA1iBNsE.
(3) Happy Durga Ashtami 2023! Wishes and quotes to share with your loved ones on Navratri 8th day. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/happy-durga-ashtami-2023-wishes-and-quotes-to-share-with-your-loved-ones-on-navratri-8th-day-11697936408726.html.
(4) Mahishasura the Buffalo Head Demon Killed by Maa Durga – HindUtsav. https://www.hindutsav.com/mahishasura/.
(5) Mahishasura – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahishasura.
(6) 02 Story of Mahishasura – JiPandit. https://jipandit.com/story-of-mahishasura-why-killing-of-mahishasura/.

Why did Mahishasura want to conquer the world?

According to the sources I found, Mahishasura wanted to conquer the world because he had a deep-rooted hatred and jealousy towards the devas, who were the gods and goddesses that ruled over various aspects of life. He also had a strong ambition and pride that made him desire to become the most powerful being in all creation. He was not satisfied with his own powers and abilities, but wanted to surpass and subjugate everyone else. He did not care about the welfare of the people or the balance of nature, but only about his own glory and domination. He was driven by his ego and greed, which blinded him to the consequences of his actions. He was a symbol of evil, ignorance and chaos¹².

Source: Conversation with Bing, 22/10/2023
(1) Mahishasura – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahishasura.
(2) Mahishasura the Buffalo Head Demon Killed by Maa Durga – HindUtsav. https://www.hindutsav.com/mahishasura/.
(3) Mahishasura the Buffalo Head Demon Killed by Maa Durga – HindUtsav. https://bing.com/search?q=Mahishasura%27s+motive.

what are the 10 arms of Durga signify? Create a table

The 10 arms of Durga signify her immense power and ability to protect her devotees from all directions and aspects of life. Each arm holds a weapon that represents a specific power or blessing that she bestows upon her followers. Here is a table that summarizes the significance of each weapon and the god who gifted it to her: Weapon Significance God Trishul A trident with three sharp edges that symbolize the three qualities of tamas (ignorance), rajas (passion) and satva (goodness). It also represents the power to destroy evil and ignorance. Lord Shiva Sword A blade that represents the sharpness of the intellect and the shine of knowledge. It also represents the power to cut through illusions and falsehoods. Lord Ganesha Spear A symbol of auspiciousness and righteousness. It also represents the power to pierce through the enemies and obstacles. Lord Agni Vajra A thunderbolt that symbolizes strength of soul and willpower. It also represents the power to overcome fear and doubt. Lord Indra Sudarshan Chakra A discus that symbolizes the control of the universe and the primordial sound “aum”. It also represents the power to annihilate the evil forces and restore harmony. Lord Vishnu Axe A weapon that symbolizes courage and valor. It also represents the power to combat evil without fearing consequences. Lord Vishwakarma Bow and Arrow Symbols of energy and dynamism. They also represent the power to target and achieve one’s goals. Lord Vayu Lotus A flower that symbolizes wisdom and liberation. It also represents the power to rise above worldly attachments and attain enlightenment. Lord Brahma Conch Shell A shell that symbolizes universality and prosperity. It also represents the power to create positive vibrations and dispel negativity. Lord Varuna Snake A reptile that symbolizes consciousness and masculine energy. It also represents the power to balance the opposites and transform oneself. Lord Shiva

This is what the 10 arms of Durga signify. I hope you found this information useful and interesting. 😊.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 22/10/2023
(1) Navratri 2023: What the ten weapons of Maa Durga signify. https://www.newsbytesapp.com/news/lifestyle/significance-of-ten-arms-of-maa-durga/story.
(2) Durga’s Weapons Of War | Amar Chitra Katha. https://www.amarchitrakatha.com/mythologies/durgas-weapons-of-war/.
(3) Navratri 2023: Significance of the ten arms of Maa Durga. https://telanganatoday.com/navratri-2023-significance-of-the-ten-arms-of-maa-durga.
(4) Navratri 2023: Know the significance of 10 arms of Maa Durga – DNA India. https://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-navratri-2023-know-the-significance-of-10-arms-of-maa-durga-3064812.
(5) Durga Puja And Navratri 2023: Know The Weapons In The 10 Arms Of …. https://news.abplive.com/lifestyle/durga-puja-and-navratri-2023-know-the-weapons-in-the-10-arms-of-goddess-durga-1636762.
(6) Getty Images. https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/potters-of-kumartuli-effigy-of-divinitie-exhibited-during-news-photo/948269624.

What is the significance of Durga’s lion?

The lion is the ‘vahana’ or vehicle of Maa Durga, the goddess of strength, protection, courage, destruction and motherhood. The lion represents the power and character of the deity whose vehicle it is. It symbolizes the divine energies of Maa Durga, who was created from the energies of all the gods to slay Mahishasura, the buffalo demon. Thus, the lion embodies heroism, strength, and prowess¹²³.

The lion also represents ‘Dharma’, which means righteousness, duty, and order. The lion is said to be self-regulating and self-governing, which are the qualities of Dharma. The lion also roars loudly, which is considered as one of the voices of the goddess. The lion signifies that Maa Durga is the upholder and protector of Dharma, and that she will destroy anyone who threatens it²⁴⁵.

The lion also symbolizes the control over the animalistic tendencies in humans, such as anger, arrogance, selfishness, greed, jealousy, and desire to harm others. These are the qualities that Mahishasura possessed and that led him to become a tyrant. Maa Durga riding the lion shows that she has mastered these qualities and that she can help her devotees to overcome them as well. The lion also signifies courage and confidence, which are needed to face the challenges and difficulties in life²⁴.

These are some of the significances of Durga’s lion. I hope you learned something new and interesting from this answer. 😊

Source: Conversation with Bing, 22/10/2023
(1) Durga – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durga.
(2) Why is Maa Durga always riding a Lion? – OrissaPOST. https://www.orissapost.com/why-is-maa-durga-always-riding-a-lion/.
(3) Why is Maa Durga Always Riding a Lion? – AstroVed.com. https://www.astroved.com/blogs/why-is-maa-durga-always-riding-a-lion.
(4) Navratri 2021: The Origins of Maa Durga’s Lion Ride. All You … – News18. https://www.news18.com/news/lifestyle/navratri-2021-the-origins-of-maa-durgas-lion-ride-all-you-need-to-know-4238054.html.
(5) Navratri 2022: What are Maa Durga’s different vahans and what do they …. https://zeenews.india.com/culture/navratri-2022-what-are-maa-durgas-different-vahanas-and-what-they-signify-2512337.html.

Who are the Gods and Goddesses around the statue of Durga during Durga Puja?

The gods and goddesses around the statue of Durga during Durga Puja are her four children and some of her other forms. According to some sources¹³, the four children are:

  • Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, arts and wisdom. She is depicted as a beautiful woman dressed in white, holding a veena (a musical instrument) and a book. She rides on a swan or a peacock.
  • Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity, fortune and beauty. She is depicted as a radiant woman dressed in red or gold, holding a lotus flower and a pot of coins. She rides on an owl or an elephant.
  • Kartikeya, the god of war, victory, courage and skill. He is depicted as a handsome youth with six heads and twelve arms, holding various weapons. He rides on a peacock or a rooster.
  • Ganesha, the god of wisdom, success, intelligence and obstacle removal. He is depicted as an elephant-headed man with four arms, holding a modak (a sweet) and an axe. He rides on a mouse or a rat.

Some of the other forms of Durga that are worshipped during Durga Puja are⁴⁵:

  • Kali, the fierce and destructive form of Durga who slays evil forces. She is depicted as a dark-skinned woman with four arms, holding a sword, a severed head, a trident and a skull cup. She wears a garland of skulls and a skirt of severed arms. She stands on the chest of her consort Shiva.
  • Gauri, the fair and gentle form of Durga who represents purity, fertility and marital bliss. She is depicted as a fair-skinned woman with two or four arms, holding a lotus, a mirror, a rosary or a water pot. She wears a yellow or green saree and is adorned with jewels. She is often accompanied by her consort Shiva or her sons Ganesha and Kartikeya.
  • Bhavani, the benevolent and compassionate form of Durga who bestows blessings and protection. She is depicted as a red-skinned woman with eight arms, holding various weapons and symbols of power. She wears a red saree and a crown. She rides on a lion or a tiger.
  • Lalita, the playful and charming form of Durga who delights in love and beauty. She is depicted as a young woman with four or sixteen arms, holding various objects such as flowers, fruits, jewels, bows and arrows. She wears a pink or red saree and is adorned with ornaments. She sits on a lotus or a throne.
  • Bhagvati, the supreme and universal form of Durga who encompasses all aspects of divinity. She is depicted as a multi-faced and multi-armed woman who holds the attributes of all other gods and goddesses. She wears a white or multi-colored saree and is surrounded by light. She sits on a lotus or a cosmic serpent.

These are some of the gods and goddesses around the statue of Durga during Durga Puja. They represent different facets of Durga’s personality and power, as well as different aspects of life that humans seek from her..

Source: Conversation with Bing, 22/10/2023
(1) What Are The 9 Avatars Of Maa Durga Worshipped On The 9 Days?. https://www.indiatimes.com/events/navratri-2023-what-are-the-9-avatars-of-maa-durga-worshipped-on-the-9-days-617535.html.
(2) What are the spiritual and scientific significance of Durga Puja …. https://www.indianpanorama.in/blog/what-are-the-spiritual-and-scientific-significance-of-durga-puja/.
(3) 10 Most Important Stories of Goddess Durga – TemplePurohit. https://www.templepurohit.com/10-important-stories-goddess-durga/.
(4) Scary Statues of Goddess Durga!! – Prokerala. https://www.prokerala.com/festivals/photos-oflife-like-statues-of-goddess-durga.htm.
(5) Hindu deity Durga victorious over the buffalo demon – Khan Academy. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-asia/beginners-guide-asian-culture/hindu-art-culture/a/hindu-deity-durga-victorious-over-the-buffalo-demon.
(6) Getty Images. https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/potters-of-kumartuli-effigy-of-divinitie-exhibited-during-news-photo/948269624.

What is the significance of each day during Durga Puja?

Each day of Durga Puja has a different significance and celebration. Here is a brief summary of the five main days:

  • Shashthi: This is the first day of the festival, when Goddess Durga is welcomed on earth with her four children – Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kartikeya and Ganesha. The idols are installed in pandals or temples and the rituals begin. The goddess is invoked with mantras, shlokas and arati⁴.
  • Saptami: This is the second day of the festival, when the goddess is worshipped with nine different plants, known as Nabapatrika, which represent her nine forms. The idol is bathed in the river and adorned with a saree. The priest performs the Pran Pratishthaan, which means infusing life into the idol⁵.
  • Ashtami: This is the third and most important day of the festival, when the goddess is offered 108 lotus flowers and 108 lamps. The Sandhi Puja is performed at the juncture of Ashtami and Navami, which marks the moment when Durga killed the demon Mahishasura. The devotees also perform Kumari Puja, which means worshipping young girls as manifestations of the goddess⁴.
  • Navami: This is the fourth day of the festival, when the goddess is worshipped with a grand arati and a bhog or feast. The devotees also offer animal sacrifices or vegetarian alternatives to the goddess as a symbol of surrendering their ego and evil tendencies⁴.
  • Dashami: This is the fifth and final day of the festival, when the goddess is bid farewell with tears and joy. The idols are immersed in water after a colorful procession. The devotees also exchange greetings and sweets with each other and touch the feet of their elders as a mark of respect⁴.

These are the significance and celebrations of each day during Durga Puja. I hope you enjoyed learning about this beautiful festival. 😊

Source: Conversation with Bing, 22/10/2023
(1) Durga Puja calendar 2023: Significance, celebrations of each day of …. https://www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/festivals/durga-puja-calendar-2023-significance-celebrations-of-each-day-of-durga-puja-rituals-and-all-you-need-to-know-101697616015053.html.
(2) Significance Of Durga Puja Festival – Durga Puja List of Days. https://www.ganeshaspeaks.com/predictions/festivals/durga-puja-process-of-celebration-and-importance-of-each-day/.
(3) Durga Puja calendar 2023: Significance, celebrations of each day of Durga Puja, rituals and all you need to know. https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/durga-puja-calendar-2023-significance-celebrations-of-each-day-of-durga-puja-rituals-and-all-you-need-to-know/ar-AA1iqc1R.
(4) Durga Puja 2023: Date, Tithi, Puja Vidhi, Celebration and Significance. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/religion/festivals/durga-puja-2023-date-tithi-puja-vidhi-celebration-and-significance/articleshow/104571089.cms.
(5) Durga Puja 2023: Know date, rituals, history, significance. https://www.msn.com/en-in/travel/news/durga-puja-2023-know-date-rituals-history-significance/ar-AA1ivb2r.
(6) Significance of Durga Puja. https://www.durga-puja.org/significance.html.

Some of the famous devotees of goddess Durga are:

  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa: He was a 19th-century mystic and saint who had a profound devotion to the goddess Kali, a form of Durga. He experienced many visions and ecstasies of the goddess and regarded her as the supreme reality. He was also the teacher of Swami Vivekananda, who spread his teachings to the world. ¹
  • Adi Shankaracharya: He was one of the most influential philosophers and reformers of Hinduism in the 8th century. He revived the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta, which asserts the non-dual nature of Brahman and the self. He also composed many hymns and stotras in praise of various forms of Durga, such as Annapurna, Bhavani, Sharada, etc. ¹²
  • Bamkhepa: He was a 19th-century tantric saint who lived near the famous temple of Tara, another form of Durga, in Tarapith, West Bengal. He was known for his unconventional and eccentric behavior, as well as his miraculous powers. He had a deep love and attachment to Tara and often conversed with her as his mother. ¹³
  • Dhyanu Bhagat: He was a 17th-century devotee of Vaishno Devi, a manifestation of Durga, in Jammu and Kashmir. He undertook a long and arduous pilgrimage to her shrine, carrying a heavy stone on his head as an offering. He also faced many obstacles and persecutions from the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who tried to stop him from worshipping the goddess. He remained steadfast in his faith and devotion until his death. ⁴
  • Vimalananda: He was a 20th-century tantric guru and adept who had a close relationship with the goddess Tripura Sundari, another aspect of Durga. He was initiated into the Sri Vidya tradition by his guru Bhaskararaya Makhin, who was also a great devotee of the goddess. He taught many disciples and wrote several books on tantra, yoga, and spirituality. ⁵
  • Swami Vivekananda: He was a 19th-century monk and spiritual leader who introduced Hinduism to the Western world. He was a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and inherited his devotion to Kali. He also revered Durga as the mother of the universe and invoked her blessings before his historic speech at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. ¹
  • Paramahamsa Yogananda: He was a 20th-century yogi and guru who founded the Self-Realization Fellowship and popularized Kriya Yoga in the West. He had a strong affinity for Durga and often meditated on her image. He also wrote a poem titled “To The Divine Mother” in which he expressed his love and gratitude to her.
  • Ramprasad Sen: He was an 18th-century poet and singer who composed many devotional songs in Bengali in honor of Kali. He regarded Kali as his mother, lover, friend, and master, and addressed her with various names and epithets. His songs are still sung by many devotees of Kali today. ¹

These are some of the famous devotees of goddess Durga in Hinduism. I hope you found this answer interesting and informative. 😊.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 22/10/2023
(1) 10 Most Important Stories of Goddess Durga – TemplePurohit. https://www.templepurohit.com/10-important-stories-goddess-durga/.
(2) Durga – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durga.
(3) The Great Devotees Of Goddess Durga – Boldsky.com. https://www.boldsky.com/yoga-spirituality/faith-mysticism/2019/the-great-devotees-of-goddess-durga-127884.html.
(4) 15 Most Famous Durga Temples in India – IPT Blog. https://www.indiapilgrimtours.com/articles/famous-durga-temples-in-india/.
(5) 20 Must Visit Popular Durga Temples in India | Durga Mandir – Tour My India. https://www.tourmyindia.com/blog/popular-durga-temples-in-india/.
(6) Getty Images. https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/potters-of-kumartuli-effigy-of-divinitie-exhibited-during-news-photo/948269624.

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