The story goes like this. Mahishasur (buffalo-demon) was born to the king of Asuras, Rambha, a demon, who had boons which made him unconquerable among Asuras and Devas. Lord Shiva granted him a boon that no man or deity would be able to kill him.
He then started his reign of terror over the Universe. He even attacked the abode of the Gods and conquered the heavens. As the Gods chafed at their defeat and humiliation, they took refuge under Lord Brahma, who took them to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
The only solution was the creation of a woman who possesses the ultimate power to defeat Mahishasur. The three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – combined their divine energy and created a feminine form of a glaring light.
The collection had grown so bright that not even the Trinity could gaze at it without shielding their eyes. As all were watching, a beautiful woman emerged. She was Durga (a form of Shakti/Parvati). She combined the powers of all the devas in a beautiful form.
The Gods gave her a symbol of their strength before she set off to kill Mahishasur. They gifted her their weapons and other divine objects. She got ten weapons – Lord Shiva gave her a trident.
Lord Vishnu gave her a spinning disc and Varuna gave her a conch and noose.
Agni gave her a spear. She got Vayu's bow, Surya's quiver and arrow, Yama's iron rod, Indra's thunderbolt, Kubera's club, a garland of snakes from Shesha and a lion from Himalayas. Vishwakarma gave her an axe and armor.
Goddess Durga, armed with the fearsome weaponry of the Gods, was ready to engage in the battle. She marched against the demons on her mount, the lion. The demons were awestruck. As Mahishasur’s armies were struck down by Durga, he realised that he was not invincible.
He was enraged by the defeats. He took the form of a demonic buffalo and charged at the divine soldiers, killing many and lashing out with his whip-like tail. Durga’s lion pounced on him & engaged him in a battle. While he was thus engaged, Durga threw her noose around his neck.
Mahishasur then assumed the form of lion and when Durga beheaded the lion, he escaped in the form of a man who came immediately face to face with arrows from Durga. The demon escaped yet again and then having assumed the form of a huge elephant, battered Durga’s lion with a tusk.
With her sword Durga hacked the tusk into pieces. The demon reverted once more to the form of the wild buffalo. He hid himself in the mountains from where he hurled boulders at Durga with his horns. Durga drank the divine nectar which was the gift of Kuber.
The shape-shifting demon was no match for Durga. She pounced on him, pushing him to the ground with her left leg. She grasped his head in one hand, pierced him with her trident held in another, and with another of ten hands she wielded her bright sword, beheading him finally.
The remnants of the demon army fled in terror. She was also credited with killing the demons, Shumbha and Nishumbha. She was praised by the Gods and since then it's believed that she was called #MahishasuraMardini
The nine days of battle became what we celebrate as #Navaratri
Durga Puja was originally celebrated in spring. However, as mentioned in the epic Ramayana, Lord Rama worshipped ‘Mahishasur-Mardini’ by offering 108 blue lotuses & lighting 108 lamps in the month of Ashwin (Sep-Oct) for invocation of the Goddess before going to war with Ravana.
While worshipping, Lord Rama found that he was 1 lotus short of the 108 required. So he proceeded to exenterate one of his own eyes with his bow and arrow (his eyes were said to be as beautiful as a lotus, kamal-lochan)as an offering. Seeing his faith she immediately stopped him.
Another version of the story is that this was the time when Goddess Durga came to the earth to her Parent's house with her family, Ganesha, Laxmi, Karthik, and Saraswati, for her annual visits. She stays for Shashti, Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami and leaves on Vijaya Dashami.
She travels to earth on modes like the elephant, a horse, palanquin, or a boat. Elephant signifies prosperity and good harvest, Journey on a horseback indicates drought, a palanquin spells wide spread epidemic, boat suggests flood and misery. This is indicated in the scriptures.
Goddess Durga has 108 names, denoting her beauty, majesty, grace and her role as the Protector, the Mother.
Durga Puja symbolises victory over evil. While legends have become lessons for us, it is a subtle reminder that good always wins over evil.

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