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Delhi and NCR Durga Puja 2011
Delhi and NCR
Durga Puja 2011

by Shouvik Basak

Bangalore Diaries 2011
by Bappaditya Mazumder

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Previous : What is Durga Puja? The Mythology

Why is Durga Puja Called Akal Bodhon ?

Durga Puja’s conventional time is during Basanta Ritu (or Spring time). However the time we celebrate Durga Puja is during the Hemanta Ritu (or Autumn). This is called Akal Bodhan (Uncustomary time to start worship). This is due to the fact during the war of Ramayana, Shree Rama after several attempts was unable to defeat Ravana, thought he was able to make him Nirastra (without any weapons) and devastate this army. But was unable to give the killing blow. There is a story behind this. It all started after Ravana received his Boons from Lord Brahma. A little about Ravana’s family lineage. Ravana was the son Sage Vishrava, who in turn was the son of Sage Pulastha. Sage Pulastha was one of the Manasputra (born of the mind) of Lord Brahma. Thus we see Ravana had an impeccable lineage. On his mother’s side, Kaikeshi was a Danav born of Sumali and Taraka. On side note, Demoness Taraka was also killed by Lord Rama when he was taken by Rishi Vishwamitra during his childhood along with Lakshmana, to get protection for his ashram from the atrocities of the Daityas and Danavs infesting the forest where the ashram was situated.



After receiving the boons Ravana started with the conquest of the three worlds with Lanka which was ruled by his step-brother Kubera (a Yaksha, also the God of wealth). During his stay at his father’s ashram he used to see that Kubera often used to visit his father to seek blessings on a Pushpak Vimana (translates to Aircraft of Flower). It happened to be an excellent piece of technological creation. It was controlled by the mind of the owner. The more Ravana saw the Vimana, the more he desired it. The fire of this desire was given more instigation by his mother Kaikeshi. After the he actually conquered the three worlds of creation and had ample time on his hand. Ravana decided to enjoy the fruits of his conquest, so one day he boarded his Pushpak Vimana and set out to observe his conquests. As he was roaming, he crossed several kingdoms, lakes, rivers, oceans and mountains. However he then came up to a mountain which the Pushpak Vimana was not able to cross (actually leap over). No matter how much he tried the Vimana would not budge. This was Mount Kailash. The abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ravana in a fit of rage descended and started to roar saying that he is the Ruler of the Three Worlds and would crush the person who lived on the mountain. As he was shouting he saw a strange creature approach. It had the head of a Bull and body of a Man. It was actually Nandi, Lord Shiva’s assistant. Ravana angrily enquired as to who lived on the mountain that was obstructing his journey. Nandi told him that it was Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ravana should have let go of his vanity and continued his journey by side stepping Mountain Kailash. However his Huge Ego would not let him do that. He thundered to Nandi “Do your Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati know not that I am the Lord of the Three Worlds. How dare they refuse to move from my path. I will lift and throw this mountain away from here”. He proceeded to lift Mount Kailash and was able to get his fingers beneath the mountain. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati was watching this with humor all along. They exchanged glances and Goddess Parvati nodded to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva then pressed his left toe gently on the ground. However this small change of weight was way, way too much for Ravana to handle. His hands were squashed under the weight of Mount Kailash. He began to howl with agony. The worlds began to shake. However Lord Shiva did not let go. There were tears rolling down from Ravana’s eyes as the pain became unbearable. Till now Nandi was looking amused and watching the fun. However he understood, the situation has turned serious and Ravana’s hand would get crushed if he did not advise him. Nandi came forward and asked him to sing and pray to Lord Shiva. Finding no alternatives Ravana who was also an excellent singer started to sing in the praise of Lord Shiva singing the “Tandav Stotra”. After singing for over a hundred years did Lord Shiva got pleased and released Ravana’s crushing hands from under Mount Kailash. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati appeared before Ravana. As Ravana feel to their feet, Lord Shiva forgave Ravana and presented him with the Chandrahas (Crescent like moon sword); one of the most powerful weapon of the Universe. Goddess Parvati blessed him saying “Ravana, I am pleased by your devotion and you would be under my protection during battle. As long your enemy who has high morals does not pray to me and ask my permission to defeat you. No force can defeat you. As long as my protection is there with you, Lanka will not be lost”. Ravana praised the Lord and the Goddess and went on his way.



Coming back to the war of Ramayana. After consultations with Vivishana, Jambawan (Bear) and others Rama came to know of the boon given by Goddess Parvati to Ravana. He understoon the reason of his earlier failures to strike the death blow to Ravana. Rama decided to pray and please Devi Parvati and ask her blessing in winning the war against Ravana. For the worship of Devi Parvati, one of the prime requirements is 108 “Neel Kamal” or Divine Blue Lotuses. As Rama prepared the Yoj Kunda for the prayer, he requested Hanumana to get the 108 Neel Kamals. Hanumana, went to Debidaha the only place where Blue Lotus’s grew and brought 108 of them. Rama started the Puja. However nearing the end of the Puja, Rama found that there was one Neel Kamal less, i.e. there was 107 Neel Kamals. Rama looked at Hanuman and the others and was disheartened. However when everyone was thinking what to do next, Rama took out an arrow from his quiver and pointed it towards his right eye. Rama was also known as Kamal Nayan (Lotus Eyed). So he thought by sacrificing one of his eyes he could negate the missing Neel Kamal. As he was about to pierce his eye as a sacrifice to Goddess Parvati, she appeared before him and held his hand. She said as Ravana was under his protection he was testing Rama, though she knew Rama was fighting for a just cause. She also know Rama was the Avatar of the Supreme Lord Vishnu. She continued that, “Now that I have seen your devotion and humbleness, or Lord Rama, victory will be yours. Go forth and fight Ravana, my protection will not be there to save him”. So in the next Rama-Ravana battle. Ravana was killed.



This invoking of Goddess Parvati or Durga is what is called Akal Bodhan. This invoking by Rama of the Goddess in an uncustomary time to seek her blessing to defeat Ravana is what is currently celebrated as Durga Puja all around.

     
 

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