by Taneesha Khanchandani
Navratri, a Hindu festival celebrated with great fervor and devotion, signifies the victory of good over evil. It is a nine-night festival dedicated to the Goddess Durga, who symbolizes the divine feminine power and embodies the essence of righteousness. The story of Navratri narrates the legendary battle between the virtuous Durga and the evil demon Mahishasura, showcasing the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
Markandeya Purana, one of the eighteen major Puranas, narrates the entire mythological connection behind Navratri which lies with the defeat of Mahishasura. The chapters 81 to 93 states the entire story and is referred as Devimahatmya. People recite this purana to worship the Nav Durga during Navratri.
Two brothers, Rambha and Karambha practiced to gain powers. Indra- the lord of all gods got threatened by their growing powers and killed Karambha. Rambha was furious and wanted to take revenge. Many Gods were impressed by his dedicated meditation for them and he was granted with the boon of power and none could defeat him, neither the Gods nor the demons.
Once, Rambha fell in love with a female buffalo and copulated with her. But a male buffalo came and killed Rambha. Rambha was granted protection from Gods and demons, but not from animals. After that, the female buffalo with a small calf inside her jumped into the fire and died. The second she jumped, MAHISHASURA, a half human and a half buffalo was born.
Mahishasura attacked heaven and defeated the Gods and demons. He proclaimed himself as the lord of the Gods – Indra and made devas his slaves. The destructive Mahisasura created a lot of havoc and brought immense anger in the Trimurti.
The Trimurti then brought their energies together to form the epitome of power that is Nav Durga. Every God then bestowed on the new feminine power to form all their characteristic weapons. Shiva– the trident, Vishnu– the discus, Varuna– the conch, Agni– the spear, Yama– the cudgel, Vayu– the bow, Surya– the arrows, Indra– the vajra, Kubera– the mace, Brahma– the water pot, Kala– the sword and Vishwakarma– the axe. Himavan gifted a mountain lion as her vehicle.
When Mahishasura came across the vibrant Goddess, he fell in love with her. He asked her to marry him but she put forward a condition. She promised to marry only if she could defeat the demon. Goddess Durga, with her divine aura, rode into battle on a lion, symbolizing courage and power. The battle between Durga and Mahishasura raged on for nine days and nine nights. The demon unleashed his full fury, but the goddess remained unyielding. Her many arms brandished weapons, and her eyes shone with determination. On the tenth day, she finally defeated the demon, piercing him with her trident and putting an end to his reign of terror.
Navratri is not just a religious festival but a symbol of hope, unity, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. The story of Durga’s victory over Mahishasura reminds us that righteousness and virtue will always prevail, no matter how insurmountable the odds may seem. As we celebrate Navratri, we reiterate our commitment to embracing the values of truth, courage, and unity, ensuring that good conquers evil in our own lives and the world around us.