Come again Maa!- A Short Story On Durga Puja
It was a beautiful morning of October. Clear blue sky with some soft white cotton like cloud floating on it. Prabin Babu, a sixty year old man was walking by the side of a village canal with his grand child, 10 years old Somalini. Deep green bushes and trees canvass the entire village. Beds of ‘kaash phul’, a kind of small and soft white flower surrounds the narrow canal road. Sound of drums are coming from a near by Durga puja pandal.
Somalini has come to this village, or it is better to say that she has come to India for the first time in her life. She was born in USA and residing there with her parents. This Autumn She has come here to enjoy Durga puja about which she has listened millions of times from her parents.
When they reached the Pandal, Maha Astami Puja was going on. Drum was beating continuously along with the chorus of ‘Vaidik Mantras’. Smell and smoke of ‘Dhupas’ have filled the pandal.
Somalini was silent for a long time. She was looking everything with her astonished beautiful eyes. Then she asked her grandpa – Dadu, will you please tell me just who is Maa Durga and who are the others? It looks like a battlefield isn’t it?
Dadu: Oh my dear! I am very happy that you have a quest to know all this. Children even the elders enjoy the festival but most of them don’t know anything about the myth. I will tell you everything if you have the patience to listen it.
Somalini : Yes Dadu, please tell me, I am eager to know.
Dadu: o.k. Then listen dear. Look at the center. Maa Durga is standing on a lion and holding deadly weapons in each of her ten hands killing ‘Mahisashura’. On her left, first is ‘Maa Saraswati’ worshipped as goddess of knowledge and music and then God Kartika, Chief of army of Debatas (Gods). On the right first is Maa Laxmi – goddess of wealth and then God Ganesha God of success.
Somalini: Thank you Dadu. Now I understand the meaning of all these idols. Is there anything else I should learn about Durga Puja.
Dadu: Yes Darling! There are lots of things you will be interested to know. For now I will be telling you another myth regarding this puja.
Somalini: Yes dadu, please carry on. I am very keen to know all these.
Dadu: We worship Durga as the mother goddess, the epitome of 'Shakti' (divine power), to deliver us from the evil and bring peace and prosperity in our lives. But the most interesting part of Durga Puja is that, instead of placing Durga on a high alter and worshipping her from a distance the Bengalis embrace her in their hearts and make her an inseparable member of the family. We welcome Durga to the earth as our daughter who comes at her parents' home for her annual visits. Durga stays for four days-Shashti, Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami along with her children, Ganesha, Laxmi, Kartik and Saraswati and sets for her husband's abode on Vijaya Dashami. The worship of Devi Durga in the month of October however owes its origin to Krittibas Ojha's "Ramayana". Sree Rama hastily worships Durga,the goddess of 'Shakti', just before he sets for Lanka to rescue Sita from Ravana. According to Puranas, King Suratha, used to worship the goddess Durga in spring. Thus Durga Puja was also known as Basanti Puja. But Rama propones the Puja and worships the Devi in autumn and that is why it is known as 'Akal Bodhon' or untimely worship. Over the years, this Akal Bodhon has become the tradition among Bengalis (Bangalis) and in Bengal.
Somalini: I see some animals and birds here, who are they?
Dadu: As I already told The Lion is the Carrier (Bahana) of Maa Durga. Similarly peacock is the Bahana of Kartika, mouse for Ganesha, owl for Laxmi and swan is the bahana for Saraswati.
Somalini: But dadu, why we worship in this form? Is there any history behind them?
Dadu: Yes my dear. The history as we get in the holy book ‘Chandi’ is like that.
Mahishasura, the king of Asuras, through years of austerities, was once granted a boon by Lord Bramha, that no man or deity would be able to kill him. The immense power filled in him the urge to rule over the world. He started to terrorize heaven and the inhabitants. He pervaded the world with his battalion of ‘Asuras’ and plundered and ruthlessly killed the people. Chaos and anarchy reigned. Gods (Debatas) were driven from the heaven and Mahishasura usurped the throne. The ‘Debatas’ scared and unable to combat him, requested Lord Shiva, Lord Bramha, and Lord Vishnu to stop Mahishasura's tyranny.
In answer, the three Gods combined their divine energy and summoned up a feminine form so brilliantly glaring that it illuminated the heavens. This combined power fell on the residence of Sage Kattyana in the Krishna chaturdashi (fourteenth day of new moon) in the month of Ashwin (September-October). From the glow emerged Devi Durga, a beautiful yellow woman with ten arms riding a lion. Despite her grace she bore a menacing expression, for Durga was born to kill. Fully grown and armed by the gods, beautiful Durga was named "Kattyani" as she is born in the ashram of sage Kattyana. The sage worshipped her for sukla saptami, asthami and nabami tithi then on the tithi of Dashami she killed Masishasura. She was sent forth against Mahishasura armed by symbols of divine power; Vishnu's discus; Shiva's trident; Varuna's conch shell; Agni's flaming dart; Vayu's bow; Surya's quiver and arrow; Yama's iron rod; Indra's thunderbolt; Kubera's club and a garland of snakes from Shesha and a lion as a charger from Himalayas. A fierce battle took place. Finally when Mahishasura in the guise of a buffalo charged against Durga, the Devi beheaded the buffalo and from it emerge Mahishasura in his original form. Durga pierced his chest with the trident and relieved the world from the evil power. That is why she is 'Durgatinashini Durga', our mother goddess who destroys the evil, protects her devotees and establishes peace and prosperity on earth.
Somalini: dadu, I see some beautiful blue lotus there. Are the mandatory for the puja?
Dadu: Yes Dear. There is a very interesting legend about this. In "Ramayana", Lord Rama supported by Hanumana and his monkey army reached Lanka,the land of demons to rescue his wife Sita from the ten-headed king Ravana. Rama prayed to Devi Durga for her blessings to defeat Ravana. The Goddess demanded hundred and eight Neelkamals (Blue Lotuses) from Rama. Rama collected hundred and eight Neelkamals but Devi Durga hid one of them. Rama started travelling and searching the whole world to get another blue lotus, but he failed. Then Rama offered his one eye to Devi Durga, which resembled the Blue lotus. Devi was pleased on his devotion and blessed him for the battle. The battle was started on the day of "Saptami". Ravana was finally defeated after a long aggressive fighting and was killed at the time of "Sandikhshan"(the transition period of "Ashtami" to "Navami"). He was cremated on "Dashami”.
Somalini: O’ my dear Dadu! You are so nice to tell all these legends. I will never forget these. Now tell me dadu, why doesn’t Maa Durga come again to the earth and destroys the evils who are killing thousands of innocent people, destroying decade old monuments and creating deadly fierce full environment on the earth?
Prabin Babu looked at his grandchild with emotion. For a few moments he could not speak. Then he told - I am very proud of you my dear! The way you could think of this fierce full situation of entire mankind, I wish the elders could have thought also. Yes darling, ‘Maa Durga Durgatinashini, Ashura binashini’ should come to the earth again and save this earth from the modern ‘Ashuras’ who are determined to destroy the earth, its inhabitants and its decade old cultures.
Let us pray ‘He Maa Durga Durgati Nashini Ashur Binashini’ please come once again with all your deadly weapons and fierce full look riding on your ferocious lion and destroy all the evils from this earth and make this beautiful earth another heaven for the mankind.