Durga Puja: Srinjay Chakravarty
Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsava, or Sharodotsava, is an annual Hindu festival originating in the Indian subcontinent which reveres and pays homage to the Hindu goddess and is also celebrated because of the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasur, Durga.
The temple priest has rung his bell.
A cloud of smoke from candles and lamps
Haloes the Goddess, glowing bright.
This beat of drums both maddens and dulls.
The incense burns: so heady the musk,
Our senses flounder in the flood.
This endless chant of sacred words
Soon drugs our lips and stuns our minds.
The Goddess, always staring down:
Her painted pupils cut through smoke
And read the secret thoughts we think.
We somehow feel this within our hearts.
To Mother, we know, we bow and pray –
Her form not just this image of clay.
∼ Durga Puja poem by “Srinjay Chakravarty”
Durga is most often seen as a warrior woman riding a lion or a tiger with eight or ten hands carrying weapons and assuming mudras, or symbolic hand gestures. This way, the Goddess is the embodiment of feminine and creative energy (Shakti).
According to the narrative from the Devi Mahatmya of the Markandeya Purana, Durga was made by the gods as a warrior goddess to fight a demon. The demon’s father, Rambha, king of the demons, once fell in love with a water buffalo, and Mahishasur was born from this union. He is therefore able to change between human and buffalo form at will (mahisha means “buffalo”). Through intense prayers to Brahma, Mahishasura was given the boon that he could not be defeated by any man or god. He unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds. The gods, realizing that only a woman or goddess could defeat the buffalo demon, gave forth all of their creative energy and created Durga. Durga, holding many weapons, went to battle with Mahishasur and won, saving the gods and men from destruction.