Durga puja is one of the main and biggest festivals of Kolkata, West Bengal and is celebrated with great zeal and fervour every year. This year, the Mahalaya is on 28 September and the Dusherra will be celebrated on 8 October.
The remaining days in between are equally significant and therefore, the preparation for the festival has already begun. With the Durga puja knocking at our doors, it will be interesting to learn the legend behind this festival.
In this article, let us understand the significance of Mahalaya, which is the story of Goddess Durga defeating the demon Mahishasura.Who Was Mahishasura?
Mahishasura is a Sanskrit word which is originated from 'mahisha' meaning buffalo and 'asura' meaning demon. Mahishasura was born to the king of Asuras named Rambha, a terrifying demon who had the boons from Brahma, which made him unconquerable among asuras and devas.
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Mahishasura was a devoted worshipper of Lord Brahma and after years of penance, Brahma granted him a wish. Proud of his power, Mahishasura demanded immortality from Lord Brahma and his wish was that no man or animal on Earth can kill him. Brahma granted him this wish and told him that he will die in the hands of a woman. Mahishasura was so proud of his power that he believed that there is no woman in this world could kill him.
Mahishasura attacked Trilok (the three worlds of earth, heaven and hell) with his army and tried to conquer Indralok (the kingdom of Lord Indra). Hereafter, the gods decided to start a war against Mahishasura but, due to Lord Brahma's boon, no one could defeat him.
So, the gods decided to approach Lord Vishnu, who understood the situation and created a female form to defeat Mahishasura. All the Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva combined all their powers together and gave birth to Goddess Durga mounted on a lion.
She then fought Mahishasura over a period of 15 days during which he kept changing his appearance to mislead her. Finally, when Mahishasura transformed into a buffalo, Goddess Durga stabbed him with her Trishul (trident) on his chest and killed him.
Mahishasura was defeated and killed on the day of Mahalaya. Since then, it is believed that Goddess Durga was praised and was called Mahishasuramardini.
While legends have become lessons for us, it is a subtle reminder that good always wins over evil.
Happy Durga Puja to everyone!