दुर्गा पूजा (Durga Puja / Dasahra)

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Smiling blue skies trimmed with fleecy white clouds, gentle breeze, warm sunshine and the ‘kash’ flowers usher in the month of Aswin (September – October). It is the time for Durga Puja, bringing with it new hope to thepeople og Ang-Pradesh. Preparations and expectations culminate in the Puja days, Shashti, Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami. The beat of drums, the clash of cymbals, the ringing of bells, dances before the image of Durga, incense wafting in the air, all form an integral part of

Durga puja. All too soon it is Vijayadashmi the day when the images are taken in a procession and immersed in the river. Associated with the Puja, cultural functions and melas (fairs) are held. These melas create mass contact and develop various folk arts and cottage industries.

Durga was a Puranic Goddess. In the Puranas, the struggle between the Gods and demons or ‘asuras’ is mentioned. The Gods could not subdue Mahisasura, the king of demons, who drove the gods out of heaven. They went to Vishnu who told them that it would be possible for someone other than a God to defeat Mahisasura. The name Tilottama and not Durga is found in the Puranas. She was created with all the special attributes. Shiva gave her his trident, Vishnu his die, the spear was given by Yama, Agni gave a dart, Kubera a club, Kala a sword, Surya a quiver full or arrows for a magical bow given by Vayu; Varuna
provided her with a conch to announce her victory; Viswakarma a battle axe and Indra his thunderbolt. Himavan gave her a mount – a ferocious lion. She was also adorned with jewels.

She subjugated Mahisasura and is also known as Mahisasurmardini, who disappeared into nothingness. Mahisasura is identified with a block buffalo.

The war between the asuras and the Gods took place in spring, the season for war. It is said that Ram invoked the blessings of Chandi in Autumn before attacking Lanka. This was not the proper time for war. Therefore Rama had to invoke Chandi so as to be victorious. The Chandi – worship of Rama was called “Akal Bodhan” the untimely worship.

Another myth centers around Parvati, the daughter of Menaka and Himalaya. She unwillingly married Shiva. The Durga mythology slowly crept into the social mainstream and gave rise to poignant yet common social feelings. Durga has other common household names like Uma, Gauri, Lalita and so on.

The very name Durga is not Aryan but Asiantic. This name Durga, came from aboriginal sources like the Santhal folk lore. The kingdom of Champa (modern Bhagalpur, Pataliputra, Magadh) was ruled by Harmaid Durga. The Aryans could not defeat him. They engaged a beautiful courtesan to entice Harmaid Durga. She was so successful that, when the Aryans attacked, Harmaid Durga, busy with his courtesan did not bother to protect his kingdom. Consequently Harmaid Durga was killed and worshipped the courtesan. The feminine of Durga should rightfully be Durgi. The worship of Durga became the annual Aryan festival and the Durga cult was established among the Aryans. Incidentally, the Aryans called the non – Aryans ‘dashyu’, ‘dashyu’, ‘dasa’ (slave) and subdued them. This explains the presence of the black buffalo.