Ma's India Blog: Durga: A Powerful Goddess Fighting Evil and Hardship Mas India

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

It’s that time of the year again: Durga Puja, an uncommonly extravagant and colorful festival celebrating the great Goddess Durga. Celebrated mainly in India, and predominantly in Bengal, it has found popularity in other places around the world. Various orders or ashrams in the States are celebrating Durga Puja three, four, five and even as many as nine or ten days during the months of September-October. Fasting, festival dishes, devotional songs, decorations are some of the main aspects of the Durga puja festivals. Durga puja is a festival, which epitomizes the victory of good over evil. Mother of the universe, Durga represents the infinite power of the universe and is a symbol of a female dynamism. A beautiful and fierce Goddess, Durga is depicted with ten arms, a weapon in each hand, her right leg resting on a lion and her left leg resting on the Demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura was a buffalo demon and did penance for many years for his evil. After his penance, which consisted of promises by Brahma that he would not be slain by gods, men, spirits or any aspect of nature, he re-mobilized his evil ways and began to tyrannize the entire world. However, Mahishasura had forgotten to include the name of “woman” when asking for his boon of protection. Therefore, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva created Durga, an incarnation of Shakti, divine power, and ended his reign of terror. Thus, Durga Puja has come to be the triumph of good versus evil. Mother of the universe, Durga represents the infinite power of the universe and is a symbol of a female dynamism. The manifestation of Goddess Durga is said to emerge from her formless essence and the two are inseparable. Durga has many aspects and she is celebrated through other feminine manifestations of her. Durga is actually seen as a kind of over-Goddess in some ways, although devotees of Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswati, and other Goddesses might argue that point. However, during the Puja, it is customary to invoke all or many aspects of the Mother in General. While the Durga Puja is propitiating mainly the Shakti, the divine power of the Mother during this time, Durga is also invoked to dispense her divine grace and bestow upon all wealth, prosperity, health, aesthetics, artistry and all other potent powers that the devotees seek. The extraordinary thing about this Durga Puja is that it coincides with the Jewish New Year and similar to the Jewish Near Year, one is asked to give up all that is unnecessary and mistaken in one’s lives and pray for the rebirth of a new awareness and consciousness. One of the ways in which one performs this act of renouncing is by throwing rice in a dhuni. In the Jewish tradition, one fasts for 24 hours and prays. In fact, the worship of this Goddess Durga even past this time of puja is always asking for a renewal of sorts. Sometimes people think of these Durga pujas as outdated or have a sardonic view since the pujas, to westerners, appear very dramatic in all their panoply and adornment, pomp and circumstance. However, if one were to watch any of the television programs, we would also see in any of these crime shows, particularly, Law and Order, CSI, etc., there is always the same basic formulation of good versus evil. So even though people might pretend to a kind of faux sophistication, in actuality, every day we are also facing some kind of evil whether it be portrayed on television or the internet wearing the face of some dictator or mass murderer. In this day and time when evil seems to overwhelm and sometimes predominate, humanity needs whatever ritual or worship they require to pray for deliverance from the evil in our lives and the ability to follow the path of virtue and goodness. It is also interesting to note that the mythology of Goddess Durga seemed to arise during the Fifteenth Century, a time when some reported the advent of the Dark Ages. Within this backward time, at a time when the Church held sway, there was the Goddess Durga who actually fought evil in a very powerful female form. So one could consider Durga a true light of liberation and feminism at an early time in our history.

In Ma’s India, we have many representations of the Goddess Durga in our Durga Statues, Durga Jewelry and books about Durga.

by: Mas India icon18_email-7781555icon18_edit_allbkg-7824300

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