Cloth Offerings : Gamcha or a piece of cloth to cover the pot, a dhoti for Vishnu, a sari each for bodhon and Chandi.
Decorative Items : Ghot or a pot, kundohnaari, a mirror, four arrows, tekatha or a triangular frame of wood, horitoki flowers (myrobalan), chandmala (garland with circular decorations), aashon (a mattress of jute or hay).
Items for Bath : Water camphor and perfumed sandal wood paste. soil - extracted from elephant tusks, from the teeth of the pig, from the horns of the ox, from the bank of rivers Ganga and Saraswati, from both the banks of a river, from a place where four roads intersect, from palaces, from the ant hill, from the mountains, from the gates where the whores stay, Vishnu toilo (oil) etc.
Items needed for the Shashthi Puja of Goddess Durga :
Food Offerings :
A stem of wood apple with fruits, green coconut with stalk, an earthen bowl full of atop, three bowls of madhuparka, sesame seeds, curd, honey, clarified butter, sugar, three big noibeddos, one small noibeddo, bhoger drobbadi, aaratir drobbadi, grain, fruits, one dozen bananas with a single stem, white mustard seeds.
Puja Items :
A pot, four arrows two ashonanguriuk, panchapallab, pancha ratna, panchashasha, panchagobbo, tekatha, dubba grass, sindur, swastik pituli, conch shell, kajol (corrilium), gorachana, yellow thread, chamor, a fly-whisk made of yak's tail used for fanning, earthen lamps, panch pradip for arati.
Cloth Offerings :
Gamcha to cover the pot, a dhoti for the wood apple tree, a sari for bodhon, one sari for amontron.
Decorative Items :
Myrobalan, flowers, chandmala, adibas oil, turmeric, soil from the bank of river Ganga, perfume, stone, gold, silver, copper, iron, mirror and alta.
Items Needed for The Saptami Puja of Goddess Durga
Food Offerings :
Sesame seeds, myrobalan, flowers, two earthen bowls full of atop, green coconut with stalk, wood apple leaves, white mustard, madhuparka (40 or 22 bowls), honey, sugar, noibeddos (40 or 22), one main noibeddo, fruits, items for bhog.
Puja Items :
Jute ropes, red thread, alta, four finger rings, four yadnyopaveet, a pot, a mirror, a tekatha, sandalwood, mashkolai, hibiscus flower, small noibeddo, one big earthen lamp, panchapallab, pancha ratna, panchashasha, panchaguri, vermillion, items for arati, items for the yadnya - sand, wood, dry khorke grass, cowdung, kusha grass, ghee, 108 bel leaves and a bowl.
Cloth Offerings :
Clothes for the Pundit, a piece of cloth, gamcha for arati, 40 or 22 finger rings made of kusha, sari for nabapatrika, one sari for the main puja, saris for Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Chandi, dhoti for Kartik, Ganesh, Shiva, Vishnu, clothes for nine planets, clothes for peacock, mouse, lion, demon, buffalo, ox, snake, chandmala, a nosering, iron, conch shell.
Plants and Flowers Offerings :
Flower garland, belpatra garland, Banana plant, turmeric plant, colacassia plant, wood apple stem, pomegranate stem, a stem of Jayanti plant, arum plant, rice plant, ashoka stem, twigs of white aparajita plant, two banana stems.
Items needed for the Ashtami Puja of Goddess Durga :
Food Offerings :
Fruits, items for bhog, items for arati, 40 or 22 bowls of madhuparka, honey, sugar, curd, ghee, 40 or 22 noibeddos, four small noibeddos.
Cloth Offerings :
One sari for Durga, new clothes for Lakshmi, Saraswati, Chandi, Kartik, Ganesh, Shiva, Vishnu, nine planets, the peacock, mouse, lion, demon, buffalo, ox, snake, Jaya, Bijoya and Ram.
Puja Items :
One dantakashto, 40 or 22 finger rings made of kusha, one nosering, iron, two conch shells, a box of vermillion, flowers, a garland, belpatra garland, one chandmala, one ghoti.
For Sandhi Puja :
Flowers, gold ring, a bronze bowl for madhuparka, a small sari, main noibeddo, one small noibeddo, one plate, one pitcher, iron, one nosering, one pillow, a mat, a chandmala, 108 earthen lamps, items for bhog, and items for the arati.
Items needed for the Nabami and the Dashami Pujas :
Food Offerings :
Betel leaves, pan masala, 40 or 22 bowls of madhuparka, honey, sugar, curd, ghee, 40 or 22 noibeddos, four small noibeddos.
Cloth Offerings :
Clothes for Lakshmi, Saraswati, Chandi, Kartik, Ganesh, Shiva, Vishnu, the nine planets, the peacock, mouse, lion, demon, buffalo, ox, snake, Jaya, Bijoya and Ram, one dantakashto , one sari for the main puja.
Puja Items :
Flowers, 40 or 22 finger rings made of kusha, one ghoti , one nosering, iron, two conch shells, a box of vermillion, flower garland, belpatra garland, a chandmala, one plate, items needed for the yadnya (fire sacrifice), bel leaves, gift for the Purohit.
For the Dashami Puja :
Perfume, flowers, durba grass, basil leaves, bel leaves, incense sticks, an earthen lamp, noibeddo, curd, murki, sweets and items needed for arati.
The Nabapatrika :
Popularly known as Lord Ganesh's wife, Kolabou in reality has no relationship with Ganesh. Our scriptures call her Nabapatrika. Interestingly enough, Nabapatrika was actually a popular ritual performed by the peasant folks for prosperous harvest. As idol worship was not common then, people worshipped Mother nature. It was during the autumn (Sharat), the time for reaping crops ("Amondhan"), peasants worshipped Goddess Nabapatrika for good harvest. Later when Durga Puja became a popular festival of "Sharat", all the nine holy rituals of the Nabapatrika, were added to the ceremonies of Durga Puja. Infact Nabapatrika represented the primitive form of Durga Puja. This primitive form of worship is still prevalent in some places.
The nine plants comprising Nabapatrika are : Banana plant - "Kola Gaachh" Colacassia plant - "Kochu Gaachh" Turmeric plant - "Halud Gaachh" Jayanti tree - "Jayanti Gaachh" Wood apple tree - "Bel Ghaachh" Pomegranate tree - "Daalim Gaachh" Arum plant - "Maankochu Gaachh" Rice plant - "Dhaan Gaachh.......
Nabapatrika being an important part of Durga Puja, is worshipped during Bodhon. The nine plants of Nabapatrika represent the nine Goddesses, the nine forms of Devi Durga. They are : .
The Banana plant represents Goddess Brahmani , Colacassia plant represents Goddess Kalika , Turmeric plant symbolises Devi Durga , Jayanti denotes Devi Koumari , Bel denotes Goddess Shivaa , Pomegranate represents Devi Raktadantika , Ashoka symbolises Shokrahita , Arum plant represents Chamunda ,Rice plant is for Goddess Lakshmi
Bathing Ritual :
In the early hours of Saptami, the twigs of white "aparajita" plant along with nine bunches of yellow threads are used to tie the Nabapatrika. It is then bathed. In our scriptures the elaborate bathing ritual of nabapatrika is compared with the coronation of a King. Just like the King is bathed with waters from holy places and oceans, bathing nabapatrika too requires the same. All the nine Goddesses representing nabapatrika are bathed with waters from 8 different holy places. This bathing ritual is accompanied with varied mantras and diverse musical instruments for different goddesses.
The Holy Waters and The Ragas :
The first pot holds the holy water of the Ganges which is accompanied with Malob Raga. The second pot holds rain water which is accompanied with Lalit Raga. The third pot holds water from river Saraswati which is accompanied with Vibhash Raga with Dundhabi beats. The fourth pot holds ocean water which is accompanied with Bhairavi Raga with Bhim beats. The fifth pot holds mixture of Lotus pollen in holy water which is accompanied with Gaur Raga and mahendrabhishek beats. The sixth pot holds spring water which is accompanied with Barari Raga and sound of conch shell. The seventh pot holds water from all holy places which is accompanied with Vasant Raga and sound of conch shell. The eighth pot holds holy water which is accompanied with Dhanshirag Raga and Bhairavi beats.
An Elaborate Affair In The "Babu" Era :
Earlier the bathing ritual of Nabapatrika was an elaborate affair for the Babus. Long processions accompanied with musical instruments and much fanfare was common then. With idol worship gaining ground, nabapatrika slowly lost its importance. The bathing ritual is a small affair now. Water from the Ganges or some nearby pond accompanied with Dhak and Knashi finishes of the ceremony, which was once a very lengthy affair. After the bathing ceremony Nabapatrika is adorned in red bordered white saari and vermilion is smeared on its leaves. Two wood apple fruits ("shriphal" or "bel") are tied round the middle part to symbolise the breasts. Then the whole thing is tied with the stems of white creeper flowers called "aparajita". She is then placed on a decorated pedestal and worshipped with flowers, sandalwood paste and incense sticks. Later she is placed on the right side of Lord Ganesh. This is the reason she is popularly known as Ganesh's wife.
Kumari Puja :
Goddess Durga arrives to her earthly abode with her two children - Kartik and Ganesh, and her two other forms - Laskhmi (wealth & prosperity) and Saraswati (knowledge). We worship her as the Goddess of Shakti who overpowered the evil to establish peace and prosperity on earth. She is also the daughter making her yearly visits at her parents place along with her children for four days. The Goddess is worshipped in various forms during her stay here. One of those forms is the "Kumari", the Virgin form. This mould is the most powerful form of Mahashakti. A girl aged between one to sixteen, symbolising the Kumari form of Devi is worshipped in front of the idol of Goddess Durga. The Kumari form of the Goddess was emphasised as the most dynamic form by the devotees since yester years as Kumari Shakti is the basis of all creations. Our scriptures have emphasised Kumari Puja particularly to evolve the purity and divinity of the women of the society. Diminishing the larger than life stature of the Goddess to someone much nearer and closer is the real reason for this form of worship. Sri RamKrishna had said that Kumari is another form of Devi Durga and he himself worshipped Sarada Ma as Kumari. To imagine the Goddess in the mould of a Kumari is an age old concept. In Mahabharata Arjuna had performed Kumari Puja. The Puranas mention the Kumari form of Chandika. This is also vividly and specifically mentioned in the "Kubjika Tantra".
Selection of Kumari :
The scriptures mention the great care with which the Kumari is selected to be worshipped as the earthly representative of Devi Durga. The qualities required in the girl has to match the dynamism, purity and serenity of the Goddess. A calm, serene and an unmarried girl with a bright disposition between one to sixteen years, who has not yet reached her puberty and is bereft of desire, worldly pleasures and anger is the right requisite for the Kumari Puja. Depending on the age of the girls they are worshipped in the various forms of the Goddess. A one year old girl is worshipped in the Sandhya form
of the Devi while a two year old is worshipped in the Saraswati mould of the Devi. A three year old girl is worshipped in the Tridha form of Durga and a four year old is worshipped in the Kalika mould of the Devi. Subhaga and Uma are the forms of Durga for a five and a six year old respectively. Malini form of the Goddess represents a seven year old while Kujjika represents a eight year old girl. Kalsondarbha and Aparajita stands for a ten year old girl and an eleven year old girl. Bhairavi is represented by a twelve year old girl and Mahalakhmi by a thirteen year old girl. Pitnayika, Khetragya and Ambika by a fourteen, fifteen and sixteen year old girl respectively.
Worshipping the Kumari :
Kumari Puja is held on Ashtami or sometimes Nabami. Kumari Puja is performed in Annapurna , Jagatdhatri and even Kali Puja as without Kumari Puja, the yagna remains incomplete. In the dawn of Ashtami or Nabami, the Kumari is bathed in Ganga water and is clad in a red benarasi saari. She is then adorned with flowers and jewelry, alta is applied to her feet and a 'tilak' of sindur on her forehead. The young Kumari fasts the whole day until the puja is over. On a decorated chair she is made to sit before the goddess and a flower from the Devi's hand is placed in her hand. Placed before her are flowers, bel (wood apple) leaves, incense sticks, lamps, 'noibiddo' and other things required for puja. The purohit then chants the mantras and the sound of dhak fill the atmosphere. After the puja the divinity of the Goddess Durga is said to be seen in the girl. It is customary to gift the girl with gold, silver and clothes. To gift the Kumari is considered to be a pious act. Kumari Puja is very much prevalent in Belur Math. In 1902, Swami Vivekananda performed Kumari puja for the first time in Belur. In the premises of the Math, in the mandap, in the presence of Sarada Ma, Swamiji worshipped nine Kumari girls. He offered pushpanjali at their feet, gave them sweets and 'dakshina' (gift). He touched their feet after the completion of the puja. Later with meditation and mantras he worshipped Sarada Ma as Goddess Durga. Kumari Puja, somewhere, is celebrated on the Ashtami, yet somewhere, on the Nabami.
An integral and important part of Durga Puja, Sandhi Puja, is performed at the juncture of the 8th and 9th lunar day. Sandhi puja lasts from the last 24 minutes of Ashtami till the first 24 minutes of Nabami. During this juncture (the "Sandhikhan"), Durga is worshipped in her Chamunda form. Devi Durga killed, Chando and Mundo, the two asuras at "Sandhikhan" and thus acquired the name of "Chamunda".
Myth behind Durga being worshipped as Chamunda :
While the Goddess and Mahishasura were engaged in a fierce battle, the two generals of Mahisha, Chando and Mundo attacked the Devi from the the rear. Durga appeared to them, a brilliantly glowing woman with her hair knotted on her head, a crescent moon above her forehead, a 'tilak' on her forehead and a garland around her neck. With golden earrings and clad in a yellow saari she emitted a golden glow. Her ten hands possessed ten different weapons. Though she appeared beautiful her face turned blue with anger when she faced Chondo and Mundo. From her third eye then emerged a Devi with a large falchion and a shield. She had a large face, bloody tongue and sunken blood shot eyes. She was Chamunda. With a bloodcurdling shriek she leapt forward and killed them. This moment was the juncture of the 8th and 9th lunar day.
Age old yardsticks for measuring the "Sandhikkhan" (juncture of Ashtami & Nabami) :
Long back devotees in order to perform the Sandhi Puja at the exact juncture used a number of methods. With the last 24 mins. of the Ashtami puja still left, a bronze bowl with a tiny hole was placed in a bucket full of water. The bowl with the tiny hole was made in such a way that it took exactly 24 minutes for the bowl to submerge in the water. The moment the bowl submerged in the water cannon balls were fired announcing this moment of Sandhi Puja. This yardstick for measuring the "Sandhikhan" was very popular ages ago in many "Rajbaris". Many "Rajbaris", including, the zamindar of Sutanuti of Sobhabajar Rajbari fired cannon balls to announce the "Sandhikhan". People around Sobhabajar waited for this indication to proceed with their puja. King of Krishnanagar, Raja Krishna Chandra, was given the cannon of Plassey as a gift from Robert Clive. In Shikharbhum Rajbari a platter with vermillion (sindur) used to be kept in front of the Devi. It is said the foot prints of the Devi could be seen in the platter. This moment indicated the commencement of Sandhi Puja. Sabarno Raychoudhury of Barisha worshipped the Chamunda Devi by burning 'Layta' and 'Pholui' (types of fishes) fishes.
Story about durga
Durga is a wrathful form of Parvati (consort of Shiva). She is represented with many arms with a weapon in each hand, shown sitting astride her mount, the lion, holding celestial weapons. Though popularly She is depicted with ten hands, but other of her popular forms present her with four, six, eight, sixteen, eighteen, and even, a thousand hands. Her face always remains calm and gentle. As Durga, the Goddess is ''beyond reach'' or ''inaccessible''. She is Devi Mahishasuramardini (Goddess Killer of the Buffalo Demon) who appears to her devotees as both saumya (gentle and mild) and ghora (frightful and terrible). According to Skanda Purana, she is none other than Parvati who takes on the role of warrior at Siva's request to kill a giant demon. The demon cannot be killed by any of the gods because he is protected against the torments of any male by a special boon. Thus Parvati alone is able to kill him, and in doing so, the goddess is named Durga. The demon then takes the form of a buffalo, an apparition that again appears in the famous Devi-Mahatmya tale of the slaying of Mahishasura, the buffalo demon (mahisha means buffalo).
Goddess Durga has been glorified by 10 different aspects of the manifestation her "Shakti" or 'Power', called "Dasha-Mahavidya" as also Her 9 different forms called "Nava-Durga", without knowing which, trying to know the real power and divinity of Durga will be in vain.
In Tantra, worship of Devi-Shakti is referred to as a Vidya. Of the hundreds of tantrik practices, the worship of the ten major Devis is called the Dasa Mahavidya. These major forms of the goddess are described in the Todala Tantra. They are Kali, Tara, Maha Tripura Sundari (or Shodasi-Sri Vidya), Bhuvaneshvari, Chinnamasta, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi, and Kamala. These ten aspects of Shakti are the epitome of the entire creation. Chapter 10 also outlines their consorts, although Dhumavati, the widow form, is not allocated a consort. There are several "levels" at which these Devis can be worshiped with the prescribed Mantra and Yantra. Like a simple worship of the yantra with the mantra recitation, as a remedial astrological measure, elaborate worship with all tantrak rituals for attaining various siddhis associated with these tantras and for spiritual salvation. Successful sadhana of these Vidyas gives several boons to the practitioner. The Tantrik-Yogi who has control over his senses and positively inclined uses the boons to guide people and for the benefit of mankind. The ones whose head starts spinning with success use them for the gratification of the senses, gather a bunch of disciples around them and become fake gurus.
The last chapter of todala Tantra equates Vishnu's ten incarnations with the ten Mahavidyas as follows:
"Shri Devi said: Lord of Gods, Guru of the universe, tell me of the ten avatars. Now I want to hear of this, tell me of their true nature. Paramesvara, reveal to me which avatar goes with which Devi.
"Shri Shiva said: Tara Devi is the blue form, Bagala is the tortoise incarnation, Dhumavati is the boar, Chhinnamasta is Nrisimha, Bhuvaneshvari is Vamana, Matangi is the Rama form, Tripura is Parashurama, Bhairavi is Balabhadra, Mahalakshmi is Buddha, and Durga is the Kalki form. BhagavatÌ Kali is the Krishna murti". (Todalatantra, chapter 10)
K ali (the Eternal Night) : The first Mahavidya is Kali. Seated on a corpse, greatly terrifying, laughing loudly, with fearful fangs, four arms holding a cleaver, a skull, and giving the mudras bestowing boons and dispelling fear, wearing a garland of skulls, her tongue rolling wildly, completely naked (digambara - clad in the directions), with just a garland of demon-hands
round her waist, with heaped locks of a black cascade of hair. Thus one should meditate on Kali, dwelling in the centre of the cremation ground.
Tara (the Compassionate Goddess) : Tara is the second of the mahavidyas. She is described as seated in the pratyaaleerrha asana, on the heart of a corpse, supreme, laughing horribly, holding cleaver, blue lotus, dagger and bowl, uttering the mantra Hum, coloured blue, her hair braided with serpents, the Ugratara. She is the bestows all supernatural powers. She is the tantric form of the Goddess Saraswati.
Shorashi (the Goddess who is Sixteen Years Old) : The third Mahavidya is Shorashi (16-year-old lass), also known as Tripura-Sundari and Lalita, among a string of other names. She is the zenith of the creative cycle when the entire universe, like a flower, is in full bloom. She is the chief deity of the Sri Vidya form of worship, and is contacted either in the central circuit of the Sri Yantra, or in her own yantra, the Nava-Yoni Chakra. Her anthropomorphic qualities are brilliancy, manifestation, sweetness, depth, fixity, energy, grace, and generosity. She is seated on the lotus, that has bloomed out from the navel of Lord Shiva. She is a beautiful young girl of 16 years with four arms. Her complexion is like molten gold and Her beauty is continuously being viewed by Lord Shiva. She is, at one point, being made one with Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu.
Bhuvaneshwari (the Creator of the World) : Means the Queen of the Universe, Maya, power of love, peace within, as void. She is like the red rays of the rising sun, with the moon as her diadem, and with three eyes, a smiling face, bestowing boons, holding a goad, a noose and dispelling fears. On the right side of Bhuvaneshvari, who in the heavens, on earth, and in the underworlds is known as the Adya, worship Tryambaka. She is the fourth Mahavidya.
Chhinnamastaa (the Goddess who cuts off her Own Head) : The fifth Mahavidya, Chhinnamastaa, looks like the red hibiscus. Her left foot forward in battle, she holds her severed head and a scimitar. Naked, she drinks voluptuously the stream of the blood nectar flowing from her beheaded body, along with her two female celestial companions. The jewel on her forehead is tied with a serpent. She has three eyes. Her breasts are adorned with lotuses. Inclined towards lust, she sits erect above the god of love - Madana, who shows signs of lustfulness, engaged in the act of love with his consort Rati. The image of Chinnamasta is a composite one, conveying reality as an amalgamation of sex, death, creation, destruction and regeneration. It is stunning representation of the fact that life, sex, and death are an intrinsic part of the grand unified scheme that makes up the manifested universe.
Bhairavi (the Goddess of Decay) : Tripura Bhairavi is Supreme Energy, Supreme Goddess of speech, as Tapas, as woman warrior. Her head garlanded with flowers, she resembling the red rays of 1,000 rising suns, smeared with red, holding milk, book, dispelling fears and giving boons with her four hands, large three eyes, beautiful face with a slow smile, wearing white gems. Bhairavi embodies the principle of destruction and arises or becomes present when the body declines and decays. She is an ever-present goddess who manifests herself in, and embodies, the destructive aspects of the world. Destruction, however, is not always negative, creation cannot continue without it.
Dhoomavati (the Goddess who widows Herself) : The colour of smoke ("dhoom"), wearing smoky clothes, holding a winnowing basket, dishevelled clothes, deceitful, always trembling, with slant eyes, inspiring fear, terrifying, sitting in a chariot, with the symbol of a raven on her chariot-flag. Symbolically, she has devoured her own husband Lord Shiva in hunger, and hence, in the form of a lustreless widow. This symbolises the supremacy of the Devi (Nature) over all other forces (even Shiva, who himself is the cosmic force of destruction). She is the great death of the death himself. She is the embodiment of "unsatisfied desires". Her status as a widow itself is curious. She makes herself one by swallowing Shiva, an act of self-assertion, and perhaps independence.
Bagala (the Goddess who seizes the Tongue) : Bagala or Bagalamukhi is the eighth Mahavidya in the famous series of the 10 Mahavidyas.She is identified with the second night of courage and is the power or Shakti of cruelty. She is described as the Devi with three eyes, wearing yellow clothes and gems, moon as her diadem, wearing champaka blossoms, with one hand holding the tongue of an enemy and with the left hand spiking him, thus should you meditate on the paralyser of the three worlds. Bagalamukhi means "The Crane-Headed One". This bird is thought of as the essence of deceit. She rules magic for the suppression of an enemy's gossip. These enemies also have an inner meaning, and the peg she puts through the tongue may be construed as a peg or paralysis of our own prattling talk. She rules deceit which is at the heart of most speech. She can in this sense be considered as a terrible or Bhairavi form of Matrika Devi, the mother of all speech. According to Todala Tantra, her male consort is Maharudra. Seated on the right of Bagala is the Maharudra, with one face, who dissolves the universe. The pulling of the demon's tongue by Bagalamukhi is both unique and significant. Tongue, the organ of speech and taste, is often regarded as a lying entity, concealing what is in the mind. The Bible frequently mentions the tongue as an organ of mischief, vanity and deceitfulness. The wrenching of the demon's tongue is therefore symbolic of the Goddess removing what is in essentiality a perpetr
Matangi (the Goddess who Loves Pollution) : Dusky, beautiful browed, her three eyes like lotuses, seated on a jewelled lion-throne, surrounded by gods and others serving her, holding in her four lotus-like hands a noose and a sword, a shield and a goad, thus I remember Matangi, the giver of results, the Modini. Texts describing her worship specify that devotees should offer her
uccishtha (leftover food) with their hands and mouths stained with leftover food; that is, worshippers should be in a state of pollution, having eaten and not washed. This is a dramatic reversal of the usual protocols. She is the ninth Mahavidya. ator of evil.
Kamala (the Goddess of creation, sustenance and prosperity) : Kamala, the tenth, or the last of the Mahavidyas, is with a smiling face. Her beautiful lily-white hands hold two lotuses, and show the mudras of giving and dispelling fear. She is bathed in ambrosia by four white elephants and stands upon a beautiful lotus. She is the real embodiment of Goddess Lakshmi ("Kamalekamini"), the consort of Lord Vishnu. The name Kamala means "she of the lotus" and is a common epithet of Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi is linked with three important and interrelated themes: prosperity and wealth, fertility and crops, and good luck during the years to come.
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 Neelkamals (Blue Lotuses)from Rama. Rama started travelling and searching the whole world to gather hundred blue lotuses, but he failed. He could collect nintynine Neelkamals. 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". Since the period of this worship is not in conventional period of time(spring/Basanta) this worship is called AKALBODHON(Akal means not in time).
Fifteen days from the new moon to next full moon. This is the time to do auspicious things, some people believe that. The Bengali depicts the image of Devi Durga as "Dashapraharana-dharini" means each of her hands carrying ten different weapons gifted by other gods to kill the demon,"Mahishasura". The Goddess astrides a lion with one leg on Mahishasura. Devi is accompanied by Sri Ganesh and Laxmi on her right side and Saraswati and Kartick on her left side.
The story from 'Markandeya Chandi'
("Mahishasur-Vadh" or 'The Killing of Mahishasura'-episode from the book):
All the gods, headed by Lord Brahma, came over to Kailasha (a peak in the Himalayas ), where Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva were busy in divine conversations. They narrated the whole story of how the demon-king Mahishasura dethroned Indra from the heaven. They added that, the demon is severely putting an end to the devotees of Vishnu and Shiva, by killing them cruelly. The Asura (demon) wants all in the universe to worship him as god, and not anyone else. First, There's no yajna (worship through divine fire in the altar) for long, and the gods of heaven are leading a life in disguise in the mountain caves, away from the clasp of Mahishasura. Hearing the story, the faces of Vishnu and Shiva turned red in wrath. Their faces glowed up. A sudden effulgent, fiery glow came out of their faces, and at a single point, the energy, the 'jyoti' (divine glow and aura), of all the gods coalesced and formed a gigantic mountain of fire. Soon, this 'jyotipunjah' (heap of 'jyoti') took the form of a young woman. She had the complexion of molten gold, and her 'jyoti' touched the heavens high above. Her face was from the light of Shiva. Her ten arms were from Lord Vishnu. Her legs were from Lord Brahma. Where as, her hair from Yama, her hips from the force of the goddess Earth, her breasts from the Moon-god, and so on. The dispossessed gods were drawn to Durga. They praised her and gave to her their divine gifts: Pinakadhrik (Shiva) gave her a trident - "Trishula". Lord Vishnu gave her a disc - "Chakra". Varuna, the god of water, gave her a conch - "Shankha", and the god of fire gave her a missile. From the wind, Vayu, she received arrows. The king of gods, Indra, gave her a thunder-bolt, and the gift of Indra's white-skinned elephant Airavata was a bell, or "ghanta". From Yama, the god of death, Durga received a rod - "Kaaldanda", and from the Ruler of Waters she was given a noose - "Paash". Durga received many other precious and magical treasures -- gifts of jewels, new clothing, and a garland of immortal lotuses for her head and breasts. Heaven's architect Vishwakarma gave her a bright axe and magic armor. God of the Himalayas , Himavat, gave her jewels and a magnificent lion to ride into battle as her mount ("vahan"). Now equipped with the fearsome weaponry of the gods and dressed in golden armor and jewels she set off, seated gracefully upon that lion. His thunderous roars shook the three worlds. Oceans boiled and surf poured overland. Continents were torn at their granite foundations as whole new chains of mountains rose, while older ranges crumbled, cracked, and gave way to dust in a thousand landslides. Seeing these cataclysms rippling in waves through all the three worlds, Mahishasura and his demon allies found their attention drawn from heaven to Earth. Though confident of their power and control in heaven, even the conquering demon host could not help being awestruck.
The demons had little time to admire the radiant visage of their new adversary, for soon she engaged them on the battlefield. First the army of Chikasura and then that of Chamara, Mahishasura's chief commanders were met. They were destroyed in a great battle. At first, confident of his overwhelming power, Mahishasura held in reserve his personal demon army. But seeing the setbacks being dealt his commander's troops on every side, it soon became obvious to Mahishasura that even his personal guard must be completely committed or he would surely be cast out of heaven. Or worse. Onto the battlefield swarmed that most elite and despised assemblage, with its gruesome hordes of infantry gleefully wielding their unearthly collection of dark iron axes and halberds, gorey bludgeoneers side by side with squadrons of demon-archers. Leading this evil array in its mad and desperate charge were thousands of charioteers and cavalry of horses and elephants. Surrounded by chants of praise, the blowing of horns the beating of drums and songs of worship Durga roamed the battlefield on her mighty lion. From her divine breath her army was constantly replenished with new warriors, each able, brave and resolute. With her bell she confused the demons, and many were dragged away bound and chained. With her divine sword she cut them to bits. So many demons and elephants and horses died that a river of blood flowed across the battlefield. The ground was left littered with the broken limbs and body parts of the defeated demon army. Durga was then attacked by the demon commanders, who were all killed immediately, and without mercy.
Mahisha, the king of the demons and usurper of the throne of heaven, was shocked and enraged by the disastrous events on the battlefield. He reverted to his own form, a buffalo, and charged about on the battlefield. He ran wildly at Durga's divine soldiers goring many, biting others and all the while thrashing with his long, whip-like tail. Durga's lion, angered by the presence of the demon-buffalo, attacked him. While he was thus engaged, Durga threw her noose around his neck. To escape this trap, Mahishasura discarded the buffalo and assumed the form of a lion. Durga beheaded the lion, and the demon escaped in the form of a man. Without hesitation, Durga dispatched the man with a flight of sharp arrows. Mahishasura and Lion Yet again the demon escaped, and this time took the formidable shape of a huge elephant, which battered Durga's lion with a tusk. With her sword Durga hacked at the tusk until it too was broken. Weakened, the demon reverted once more to his own form the wild buffalo. He retreated into the mountains where he hurled boulders at Durga with his horns. The Mother of the Universe drank the divine wine, gift of Kuvera. She said:
"Garja garja Kshanam moorha, madhu yavat pivamyaham |
Mayaa twayi hatehtraiva, garjishyantyashu devatah ||"
--- Take thou time to squall and scream as long as I don't finish up my divine wine, o, foolish Mahishasura! I will soon slain you (after I finish my drink), and the gods of heaven would burst in the joy of victory.
Immediately after this, the goddess jumped onto Mahishasura, pushing him to the ground with her left leg. She grasped his head in one hand, pierced him with her sharp spear held in another, and with yet another of her ten hands she wielded her bright sword, beheading him. At last he fell dead, and the scattered surviving remnants of his once invincible army fled in terror. The gods returned to heaven, and along with the sages of the earth, they sang praises to the Goddess Durga. Henceforth, and to this day, the Goddess Durga is worshipped by all the gods in heaven, and all human beings on earth. As he requested, Mahishasura is there too--frozen in his moment of final defeat, impaled by Durga's spear and prostrate beneath her left foot.
Glory of the Goddess
Once in the land of the gods, a huge and terrible battle raged for hundreds of years. The gods were finally defeated, kicked from their celestial abode by the terrible leader of the demons, Mahishasura. The gods, who had fought the battle and lost, appeared before the greatness of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, explaining their defeat. The major gods became furious, and from their faces ''came forth a great fiery splendor, and also from the...bodies of all the gods, Indra and others...and it congealed into a single form''.
Quote Thomas Coburn's translation of the Devi-Mahatmya at this point will give a feel for the power of the tale of Durga's appearance: A stupendously fiery mass like a flaming mountain the gods saw there filling the firmament with flames. That matchless splendor, born from the bodies of all the gods, came together in a single place, pervading all the worlds with its lustre, and it became a woman...Devi bellowed aloud with laughter over and over again. The entire atmosphere was filled with her terrible noise, and from that deafening, ear-shattering noise a great echo arose. All the worlds quaked, and the oceans shook. The earth trembled, and the mountains tottered. The gods, utterly delighted, cried, "Victory!" to the one who rides on a lion.
The Stories of Sati and Parvati
What appeals to me the most about Hinduism is that one is allowed to doubt and question. In fact you will be surprised to learn that most of our scriptures are entirely conversations And discussions between Master and disciple. The Bhagavad Geeta would not have been a Scripture of such excellence, in terms of knowledge and wisdom if, Arjun would not have challenged and questioned and questioned Krishna 's word over and over again. It is only in the last Chapter that Arjun asserted: ‘Nashto Mohaa...' Arjun stated that his delusion was destroyed through the Lord's Grace, He claimed that his doubts were now gone and he professed that he would now act according to Krishna 's advice. Note, that not once did Krishna express His displeasure at Arjuna's constant arguments. The Ramayan starts with Sati , the consort of Lord Shiva wondering and questioning. She said to Shiva that she could not agree that Shri Ram was the Lord God Himself in whom Shiva had such intrinsic faith. How could Shri Ram be so disconsolate, when he lost Seeta and could not find her? How could he tearfully ask every tree and shrub where Seeta was? Sati scoffed and wondered aloud. Though Shiva explained that that was the (Leela)
sport of the Lord, Sati wanted to test it out for herself. So Sati impersonated Seeta and planted herself near Shri Ram. The latter addressed her as ‘Ma' Sati had not managed to deceive the Lord Shri Ram. When Shiva asked Sati about her whereabouts, she lied to him.
It is said that Shiva, when he learnt that she had impersonated Devi Seeta, could not accept her as a sexual mate. Shiva had nothing against the fact that she doubted or that she questioned. He was against her impersonation. The above is what we are mostly guilty of. We pretend to be that which we are not. That leads to lies, to those who we love And who have so much trust in us. We not only deceive others but ourselves. It is the above trespass that makes us incarnate again for another try. That is the point that I am trying to make. The above is one of the reasons why Sati had to return as Parvati in her next incarnation. As Parvati, she again showed a desire to learn about the feats and greatness Of Shri Ram. Shiva, this time round was happy to comply with Parvati's Divine Desire. That is how the Great Narration of the Ramayan began.
Once again there was a Divine Plan in action. One more time for the benefit of Humanity. This story appears in the Shiva Puraanam:-
Sati's father, King Daksha performed severe penance for 3000 years. The pleased goddess manifested before him and promised to take birth as his daughter Herself. When Sati or Gauri as she was named, grew up, she performed intense penance to attain Shiva as her husband. Daksha was not very happy at Sati's choice of husband. So Daksha did not invite Shiva and Gauri (Sati) to a great Yagna (Spiritual sacrifice) that he was about to perform. Sati, noting that all the celestial vehicles were headed towards her father's place, felt peeved at the fact that she had received no invitation. She insisted on attending the function anyway, despite the disapproval of Shiva. When Sati entered her parental palace, her father Daksha ignored her. To add insult to injury, Daksha proclaimed that his other daughters and their husbands were finer and more distinguished than Sati and Shiva and as such were more worthy of honour than Sati and Shiva. The Goddess Sati approached the Sadas (The area of the site of sacrifice where the main priests sit.) She thundered: "Let all those who sit here give ear to the Mistress of the Universe. My husband, the Lord of Lords has been insulted for no good reason. No fault exists in Him. It is claimed in the Scriptures that those who steal knowledge, those who betray a Teacher and those who defile the Lord are great sinners and ought to be punished".
After uttering these words, the offended Goddess threw herself in the glowing sacred fire. Daksha's Yagna had been desecrated. A celebration turned into a funeral. The invitees disappeared afraid that they could be avenged. Shiva was enraged on learning that his wife had sacrificed herself. He created a being called Veerbhadra by tearing a lock of his hair. Mighty Veerbhadra tore off King Daksha's head and tossed it into the same sacrificial fire. However because it was proclaimed that the Yagna should not be left incomplete, the head of a sacrificial goat was placed on Daksha. Lord Shiva was very sad at the death of Sati. He began to wander in the three nether worlds carrying the dead body of Sati in his arms. So violent was his stride that the universe began to tremble and there was suffering everywhere. In order to break this attachment of Shiva and to save the universe, Vishnu shot some arrows from his bow and cut the corpse of Sati into fifty one pieces. The pieces fell in 51 different parts of the country. These are known as Shakti Pithas. And so the Great Goddess is born, ready to fight the enemies of the gods. In her battle with the demons, she easily wins, and must finally confront the general, Mahisha himself. For this battle she is called Chandika, ''The Violent and Impetuous One'', in part because Mahisha so infuriates her by changing form every time she attempts to kill him. The goddess charges and he changes into a lion. She cuts off his head, and he emerges from that body as a man, armed for battle. She kills him, and an elephant appears in his place. She chops off the trunk, and the buffalo is once again before her. Needing something to channel her focus, Chandika drinks her fill of wine and becomes intoxicated. She laughs at Mahisha as he roars and throws mountains at her during her break. She yells at him that soon it will be the gods who are roaring over his death and defeat. Downing her last gulp, the goddess leaps across the battlefield at Mahisha, stands upon his neck to stop him from changing into any other form, pierces him with her spear and chops off his head. She is indeed victorious with this manoeuver, and the gods sing her praise. She so loves their devotion that she tells them she will come again to their aid if they merely call. With this boon, she disappears.
The most detailed and glorious tale of Durga's battlefield prowess comes when the gods, who remember her earlier promise, again call upon her. This time, She is asked to defeat the demons Sumbha and Nisumbha (two brothers). These demons had somehow managed to amass so much power that they deprived the gods of sacrificial offerings for a long time. This caused the gods tremendous stress because the offerings are what sustains their purpose-if they are not honored, they are depotentiated. This had been going on for so long that none of the gods could live in heaven any longer. The gods therefore sung out to the goddess, praising her for all things, hoping that she would help save them a fate of anonymity. When called, She came in her most beautiful aspect as Ambika. When Sumbha's generals, Chanda and Munda, saw her, however, they immediately reported back to Sumbha of her splendor. They told him that she would be most worthy of his favors. Sumbha, being vain and wanting all things of beauty for his own, decided to have his minions ask for her hand in marriage on his behalf. The generals then go to the goddess, but she tells them of a vow taken in her youth to only marry the one who can defeat her in battle. Upon hearing this from his emissaries, Sumbha is angry to think that a ''mere woman'' would thus suggest challenging him. He calls another of his generals, Dhumralochana (Smoky-Eyes), and tells him to take sixty thousand of his forces, grab the woman by the hair and return her to him. Dhumralochana goes forth to Chandika and at first tries to persuade her to come peacefully to Sumbha. She is not so inclined, and when Dhumralochana attempts to attack her, Chandika turns him and his battalions to ashes. The goddess is not easily had. Sumbha quickly hears about his general's defeat. He is so filled with hatred and desire to overcome and possess the goddess that he next summons Chanda and Munda, his most trusted officers. These two, acting on their commander's request head off with the rest of the demon entourage and find Chandika in the Himalayas . They immediately begin firing arrows at her, and with this, the goddess lets her rage be known. She turns black in anger and fury, and from her brow, Kali emerges. This emanation of the goddess is her most fierce and gruesome.
She is depicted as emaciated, with red eyes, protruding tongue set for lapping up blood, black countenance, and wild, long, disheveled hair. She carries multiple weapons, a skull-topped staff, and emits alternatively hideous shrieks and deafening roars. Her only clothing, if any, is a tiger-skin wrapped about her waist, and she wears as ornaments a garland of freshly severed human heads and dead infant earrings. Kali easily slays the generals and offers their heads to Chandika, who then names her Chamunda, or slayer of Chanda and Munda. Then, both Chandika and Kali set out to kill Sumbha and his remaining armies.
The gods at this point send their power, or shakti, to the aid of the goddesses. Together, these forces, along with the sakti of Chandika, called Aparajita, decimate all foes while those demons still able to do so flee the battleground in terror. One demon though, named Raktabija (Blood Seed, or Drops of Blood), comes forward again to fight. He has the special gift of being able to multiply wherever one of his drops of blood falls upon the earth. But Chandika and Chamunda team up to defeat him. Chandika lances the demon, weakening him, while Chamunda laps up his blood before it can reach the ground, thus ensuring his death. Now, only Sumbha and Nisumbha are left to challenge the goddesses. To make a long story short, however, devi withdraws Her emanations back into herself, kills Nisumbha first and renders Sumbha powerless, finally destroying him with one fatal pierce of her spear. The Goddess is yet again victorious.
Goddess Durga and a few of her various forms:
Goddess Durga is possibly one of the most powerful of all Indian Goddesses. She is worshipped in numerous forms and personas. The Goddess is seen by many of her devotees to be the supreme deity, as powerful as the supreme male deity. Although many Goddesses have consorts, Goddess Durga is independent. One of the many popular images of Goddess Durga is that of her slaying a demon. This is the buffalo demon Mahishasura who, upon being slayed by the Goddess, begged her forgiveness, and asked that he too be worshiped along with her. As a result, three of her forms often depict her slaying the demon, or with the demon at her feet.
According to Legend, Durga is a fierce Goddess and she created Goddess Kali to help her in her battles. As Kali, she is the destroyer of all evil. She is black, and wears a garland of skulls around her neck. Kali was created to destroy the demon Raktavera. If a drop of his blood would spill on the floor, another demon would sprout forth from this drop. Unknowingly, Goddess Kali attacked Raktavera, and soon she was surrounded by numerous demons or asuras. Kali then went on to swallow the asuras. She then pierced Raktavera with a spear, and drank his blood as it gushed out, until not a drop of blood was left. The blood-smeared image of Kali which is often seen in pictures and in temples depicts this scene.
Kaushiki and Chamunda
When two demon brothers, Shumbha and Nishumbha, forcibly drove the gods out of heaven, they prayed to the mother Goddess to help them. Parvati heard their prayers when bathing, and shed her skin to create the beautiful Kaushiki. Kaushiki was spotted by Chanda and Munda, two assistants of Shumbha and Nishumbha. Chanda and Munda were astounded by her beauty, and praised
her to Shumbha and Nishumbha, who sent a message via Chanda and Munda that she marry them. A battle then assumed, and Kaushiki wiggled her eyebrows. Out of her third eye sprung an elderly black Goddess, who slayed Chanda and Munda and brought them to Kaushiki. Kaushiki was pleased at her work, and bestowed on her the name of Chamunda. Chamunda is a persona of Goddess Kali. While Goddess Kali is young and may be portrayed as beautiful, Chamunda is portrayed as old and frightening. Kaushiki then killed Nishumbha and when she defeated Shumbha, the other personas merged into Kaushiki, and she killed Shumbha.
Durga is also equated with the Goddess Mahamaya, the creator of illusion and attachment. According to legend, Goddess Mahamaya once granted a boon to two demons of choice of death. These two demons then started disrupting the universe. Lord Vishnu tried to slay them, but could not as they were protected by the boon. He then approached Mahamaya for help. Using the power of illusion, she tricked the demons into helping Lord Vishnu to kill them. However, they laid forth the condition that he did so only where there be no earth, water, air, ether, mind, intelligence or false ego. Taking this opportunity, Lord Vishnu squashed the two demons on his thigh, since Lord Vishnu's was a transcendental body.
Markandeya Chandi or Durga-Saptashati
The 'Durga-Saptashati', or 'Markandeya Chandi', or 'Devi Maahaatmya' is a 700-verse poem ("Saptashati"), and a part of the Markandeya Puraana. It is auspicious to read the Devi Mahatmya Katha on or before Dassera, but the same can also be read any time.
The best technique for the achievement of 'Moksha' is worship. Moksha consists of the march of the human soul to its freedom. Freedom from what? It is freedom from desires that goad a man from birth to death and the dissatisfaction that results despite their fulfillment. The object of any form of worship is the attainment of Divine Grace. The Devi Mahatmya is a brilliant poem in Sanskrit, that describes the three stages of transformation of the obstacles that a human soul encounters in the journey towards freedom. What are these obstacles? Desire and anger... Restlessness of the mind... Ignorance.
The narration starts with the story of king Suratha. He is dejected because he has been defeated by his enemies. He lands up in the hermitage of Sage Medha. There he meets a merchant called Samadhi. Samadhi had not only lost his wealth but his own family, as the latter has turned him out. Both Samadhi and king Suratha are confounded at the fact that their mind keeps reverting to the very family and circumstances that have been the cause of so much sorrow in their lives. They both request Rishi Medha to throw light on this mysterious aspect of the mind. The Sage replies that this sorrow that they were experiencing was due to the veiling power of the Divine Mother which is called 'Maya'. This delusion emanates from the Lord Himself. It is through this power that the Lord creates, preserves and dissolves back everything into its Pure State . It is depicted in the Devi Mahatmya that Ma Durga, Ma Kali, MahaLaxmi and MahaSaraswati are not different. They are three separate aspects of the same 'Shakti' energy. MADHU AND KAITABHA
Once Lord Vishnu withdrew His power of Maya and went into a Yoga Nidra (sleep). The whole Universe at that time was dissolved in the causal waters. Brahma, the creative power of the Lord had also gone to sleep. The earth had been broken up and was floating around in the causal waters, These pieces of dirt lodged themselves in the ears of the Lord. He swept these out with His fingers. That dirt, because of the Lord's touch sprang into life and became enormous demons 'Asuras'. They were called Madhu and Kaitabh. They attacked Brahma. The latter invoked the Divine Mother to wake Vishnu. The Lord took the Asuras and placed them on His thighs and cut their heads off. The Lord then created the earth with the fat (Medas) of the demons. That is the reason for the earth being called 'Medini' It is believed that the earth is situated in the thighs in the Cosmic Body of the Lord. It is interesting to note that the earth was created again from the fat of the same demons, Madhu and Kaitabh
Mahishaasura was a buffalo-headed demon . He was granted a boon whereby he would be protected from anyone. Intoxicated by the above gift, he set out to conquer the world. Mahishaasura defeated Indra, the king of the gods. Indra implored Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh to help him. The Divine Trio amalgamated their shakti (power) and created Durga. Ma Durga fought Mahishaasura for 9 days and beheaded him on the 10th day. The 9 days are those of Navratri and the 10th victorious day is called Vijaydashami. A point to note is that as Mahishaasura was attacked, the latter would change its forms to elephant, bull, buffalo, until ultimately it is killed. The buffalo also represents the base animal instinct in a human being. Goddess Durga is powerful enough to control Evil that comes in disguise. She ends this tyranny and protects Her devotees. These transformations of Maahishaasura also denote the fickle mind and different desires that manifest in some manner or another. The Trident that the Goddess uses to destroy the Impure is a 3 pronged weapon which protects the mental, intellectual and physical aspects of life. Her sword cuts the evil of ignorance. Her bell drives away unholy thoughts and the twang of Her bow instills alertness in Her devotees.
DHOOMRALOCHANA AND CHANDA & MUNDA Ma then proceeded to annihilate Dhoomra- Lochana. The latter was a powerful general of the terrible Asura, Sumbha. The Goddess uttered the sound 'Hum' and the demon turned to ashes by the powerful vibration of the sound. The form of Ma Kali who emerged from the forehead of the angry face of Ambika (form of Durga) killed the Asuras Chanda and Munda. Chanda means a person who is short-tempered and Munda means a shaven-headed man. Together they imply the anger of a champion fighter. Because of this victory over Chanda and Munda , Kali Mata is known as Chamunda.
Hearing the news of the death of Chanda and Munda, the infuriated King Sumbha mobilised the Asuric forces and surrounded the Mother from all sides. Then, from the Great Devas (Spiritual Beings) emerged Powers which entered the Form of the Mother.. From Lord Vishnu emerged the power of Vaishnavi, and subforms from His 'avatars' - Vaaraahi and Naarasimhi... From Brahma, emerged the power called .Brahmaani. .. From Lord Shiva, emerged Maheshwari and Veer Bhadra... From Lord Shiva's son Kartikeya (or Kumar), emerged the power of Kaumari. .From Indra emerged the power of Aindri.
Raktabeeja was the son of Krodhaavati, the sister of Shumbha and Nishumbha. Krodha means anger. Raktabeeja was an Asura who enjoyed a unique blessing. If a drop of blood were to drop from his body and touch the earth, then a demon of his might and form would spring from it. So if he were to get wounded during battle, the drops of blood would give rise to a thousand demons like himself. It is for the above reason that Kali spread her tongue so that she could suck Raktabeeja's blood before it touched the earth. Raktabeeja fell on the ground dead as his body was completely drained of blood.
SHUMBHA AND NISHUMBHA
Finally Sumbha and Nisumbha were slain by Devi Mahasaraswati. Mahasaraswati stands for knowledge and Wisdom. Knowledge and Wisdom are forever victorious over Ignorance and delusion. The first 3 days of 'Navratra' are dedicated to 'Ma Kali' to annihilate the enemies within The next 3 days are dedicated to 'Ma Laxmi' and the last 3 days are dedicated to Ma Saraswati. After 9 days of struggle, Ma Durga beheaded Mahishaasura on the 10th day. This victorious day is called Vijaydashmi. On this day Shri Ram killed the 10 headed Ravana. This day is known as Dassera. On the 10th day a Bonfire is lit to burn the Self arrogating Ego. So on this Vijaydashmi day or call it Dassera if you wish let us also sound the bugle of Victory over our struggle with our base nature tendencies. But how do we do that? Lord Krishna advises the Spiritual seeker in the Geeta, "Verily this divine Maya of mine made up of the three gunas is difficult to cross over. Those who take refuge in Me, they alone cross over it" ~ Bhagwat Geeta - VII-14.