Fascinating Folktales Behind the Navratri Festival
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु शक्तिरूपेण संस्थिता:|
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नम: ||
~ Rig Veda
“To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Power,
Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her,
Salutations again and again.”
This simple but highly profound mantra represents the Mother Divine- Devi’s presence in everyone and everything, in the new & old, in good, in bad, in all forms. Chanting this mantra can bring calmness and stillness to a person, because of this is how we are composed, with the characteristics of Devi and that’s why we idolize her nine forms, all nine days during the festival, known very well amongst all, Maha - Navratri or Vijayadashami, where we follow the concept of Nava-Durga and worship nine Goddesses Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri, to seek blessings to protect us from evil and endow us with peace, shakti, and happiness.
The Navratri Festival derives its name from the conjoining of two Sanskrit words: ‘Nava’ meaning ‘nine’ & ‘Ratri’ meaning ‘nights’. A pure & pious celebration of nine navratri days of this vibrant maha parv is celebrated on a greater scale, with greater enthusiasm and devotion. A time of the year, when people leave behind their sorrows and worries and take themselves into the scape of euphoria and contentment.
The exuberant Navratri festivity is enjoyed and celebrated across India with different cultures and customs, depending upon the folklore and traditions passed down from generation to generation. Stories behind Navratri that are taken from Hindu scriptures also carve our beliefs and the rituals to celebrate Maha-Navratri. Captivating, amusing tales about the arrival of Maa Durga, how she killed Mahishasura, the story of Rama & Ravana, and many such related kahaniyaan, some known, some unknown to us. Let’s get into revealing the unrevealed fascinating folktales behind the Maha Parv: Dussehra Festival.
The Tale of the Demise of Mahishasura
We’ve all heard the Durga Maa story about killing Mahishasura, the demon, but do we really know the truth in its entirety? Let us uncover it for you. So, according to the Markandeya Purana, there was this buffalo-headed demon named Mahishasura who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. With his years of austerities, he gained from the god a boon of being the most powerful amongst all, the one who can never be defeated by any other masculine figure, neither a god nor a demon. Having been granted the wishes, he started raging against all the gods, attacking heaven, making devas and asuras his slaves. This worried the gods. So to bring his power down, the Trimurti - Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, conjured up their energies to form the feminine divinity- Goddess Durga.
When Mahishasura encountered Durga, he instantly fell in love and asked her to marry him. The goddess, knowing him very well, brought forth a condition. She challenged him to win a battle against her, to fulfill his wish of getting married. Hence, the battle started and concluded after nine long days when Maa Durga successfully defeated the demon Mahishasura on the tenth day, which we celebrate in the form of an auspicious festival- Vijayadashmi, the victory of good over evil.
The Saga of Rama and Ravana
We wonder who wouldn’t have seen the Hindu epic- Ramayana, telling the story of the legendary Bhagwan Rama. We all know that Rama, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman went for 14 years of exile where the incident of Ravana, the king of Lanka, abducting Sita took place. But do you know the folktale of how Rama devoted himself to Maa Durga to seek her blessings to defeat Ravana?
Here comes another tale. When Rama decided to battle against the demon king, he offered his prayers to Goddess Durga and made an offering of the lotus flower, requesting the goddess to bless him with strength and courage to rescue his wife from Ravana and defeat him. Rama worshipped all her forms with full devotion, nine incarnations for nine days. However, on the tenth day, he fell short of the lotus and decided to sacrifice one of his eyes. But before he could do it, Maa Durga appeared and stopped him. Considering his prayers and sheer faithfulness, the warrior goddess blessed him and Rama won over Ravana on the final tenth day, which is honored today as Vijayadashmi- burai par acchai ki jeet ka din.
The Lore of the Sacrifice of Sati
This is the epic of the immolation of the righteous Uma, the daughter of the king of Himalayas- Prajapati Daksh. Uma was an ardent worshipper of Lord Shiva, who, with her extreme devotion, pleased Shiva to come down from heaven and marry her. This hurt the pride and ego of her father, who was standing opposite to the marriage. Finding it unacceptable, he disrespected Shiva and cut off all ties with her daughter.
Carrying the grudge, the king organized a maha yagya where he invited all devas but Shiva and Uma. When her daughter got to know about this humiliation, she couldn’t resist the insult of Shiva and sacrificed herself in the Agnikund. From thereon she came to be known and glorified as Sati. As per mythology, Sati was reborn, with Shiva as her groom again and things were restored peacefully later. It is said that every year during Navratri, Uma pays a visit to her parent’s home, along with her children Ganesh, Kartikeya, Laxmi, and Saraswati, and two of her friends Jaya, Bijaya.
These legendary legends that make the history of the Navratri festival have been there since eternity and are going to be there as long as there reside festivities and celebrations. We hope the enchanting Dussehra stories were able to satiate your quest to know about Navratri and Dussehra a little more. Here’s wishing you a very Happy Navratri!
Navratri ho ya Diwali, every festival is backed with stories that we’ve always heard from our Dadis and Nanis. Fascinating kahaniya where we discovered ourselves, things around, things unknown. To refresh those memories and relive that time again, our hand- IndiFamily Comics has brought out ‘Tales of Diwali’, a podcast where our Dadaji and Dadiji will be narrating to you Diwali ki Sadiyon Purani Kahaniyan, Ek Anokhe Andaaz Mein. To listen, tune in to our Podcast Platform Click Here. See you there!