Maha Navami is celebrated in October, or sometimes November, depending on the lunar date in the Hindu calendar. In 2021, it fell on October 4. According to Hindu mythology, this was the day when the Goddess Durga slew Mahishasura, the ‘buffalo demon.’ This festival is celebrated by millions of Hindus in India and worldwide as a symbolic triumph of good over evil.
History of Maha Navami
Mahishasura was a demon with extraordinary powers. However, the Asuras (demons) always lost their battle against the Gods. Tired of constantly being defeated, Mahishasura pledged to change things. Sacrificing his sleep, food, and all comforts of life, he meditated on Brahma, the creator of the universe and all life, for many years. He, with unwavering devotion and focus, prayed to Brahma.
Brahma was pleased. He appeared to Mahishasura and told him that he could ask for anything, and his wish would be granted. Mahishasura asked Brahma for a boon that would make him invincible. “Let no man or god be able to defeat me,” he said. In his arrogance, Mahishasura believed that no woman could ever defeat him. Brahma granted him the boon.
Then Mahishasura unleashed his reign of terror. Soon he captured the Earth. Next, he attacked the heavenly abode of Indira, the King of Gods, and caught it too. All the powerful weapons that the Gods hurled at him were futile. Mahishasura seemed to be invincible, and the Gods were helpless.
All eyes then turned towards Goddess Parvati. She immediately took the avatar of Durga. Durga had ten hands, fierce eyes, and gold ornaments. She looked beautiful and yet terrifying. Riding a lion, she charged into battle with Mahishasura.
Mahishasura was powerful and could shapeshift between the human and buffalo forms. Durga and Mahishasura fought for nine days. Finally, on day 10, Durga pierced Mahishasura’s heart with a spade and killed him.Thus, Goddess Durga ended the terror brought upon heaven and Earth, which Mahishasura had almost toppled.
Since then, the day has been celebrated as Maha Navami and day ten as Vijayadashami (meaning both ‘victory’ and ’10th’), a victory of good over evil.
Origin and Mythology
The festival’s origin lies in the legendary battle between the Goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura. This is also symbolic of the struggle between good and evil in the world around us and in the hearts and minds of human beings everywhere.
Maha Navami is considered the day during the long battle between the Goddess and the demon when she fatally wounded him. The following day, the 10th day of the fight, called Vijayadashami, is when the Goddess finally defeated the devil. This is why, during Maha Navami celebrations, the Goddess Durga is worshipped in her avatar of Mahishasuramardhini or “She who killed the Mahishasura.”
Maha Navami is celebrated across India in most states as part of the 10-day Durga Puja festival, but most notably in West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Tripura, Jharkhand, and Bihar. The Goddess is worshipped with great zeal, devotion, and enthusiasm. Goddess Durga is worshipped along with the Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswathi. The Gods Ganesha and Karthikeya are also worshipped along with the goddesses. The “Devi Mahatmya,” a chant that details the legends of Goddess Durga, is also chanted with great enthusiasm on these days.
Maha Navami Activities
Take part in Durga ‘Pooja’ (Prayer)
Celebrating Durga Pooja is a grand affair. Temples are lit with ‘diyas’ (lamps) and are decorated with flower arrangements. Some people conduct the ‘pooja’ at their homes. Certain rituals are followed, for example, ‘Kanya Pooja,’ where the house girls have their feet washed and are fed a grand meal to celebrate their feminine power.
Fast for a day
Fasting and its benefits have been stressed in almost all religions. Fasting can have a detoxing effect on your body and also gives your digestive system much-needed rest. Though some Hindus fast for nine days, you needn’t go to that extreme. Fast till noon, break your fast with a light meal, and then relish the mouthwatering sweets.
Dig deeper into the story
Research the story of Durga slaying the demon Mahishasura and others, and discover enchanting stories from ancient civilizations. You can also make social media posts about what you find out so that more people get to know about Maha Navami and other stories.
5 Facts about goddess durga that will blow your mind
Durga means ‘unassailable.’
Durga means, amongst others, ‘unassailable,’ ‘invincible,’ and ‘impassable.’
She is also Butsu-Mo.
In Japanese Buddhism, Durga is called Butsu-Mo, the Earth’s mother.
She is Shakti
Durga symbolizes ‘Shakti,’ the feminine divine energy.
She has many forms
Durga has various names and forms, including Parvati, Kamakshi, and Ishi.
She has many weapons.
Each of her ten hands holds a different weapon, including a discus, lotus, sword, arrow, mace, snake, and flame, each with spiritual significance.
Why we love Maha Navami
It symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
Maha Navami is a celebration of the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasur. Maha Navami reminds us that however strong evil might be, it will always be defeated by good in the end.
It celebrates feminine strength.
Maha Navami is a celebration of feminine strength. A woman killed Mahishasura, so Maha Navami is a day when womanhood is celebrated.
It helps us explore Hindu mythology.
Hindu mythology is full of enthralling stories. This day allows us to dive into the world of Hindu mythology and discover more fascinating stories.