Featured Image Caption: Durga Puja 2018
Did you know that the roots of present-day Durga Puja celebrations lie in the Ramayana? Have you ever wondered why Durga Puja is called Akal Bodhan or the worship of Goddess Durga in the Ashwin month which is usually not a time when such rituals are practised? With the festivities slated to kick off from tomorrow-Chaturthi or the 13th of October, 2018, you should know that the actual conventional time for doing Durga Puja is Spring or Basanta Ritu.
However, we worship Maa Durga during autumn or Hemanta Ritu. This is thus known as Akal Bodhan. During the war in the Ramayana, Shree Rama made several valiant attempts but could not really trounce Ravana even though the latter was made weapon less or Nirastra. Ravana had received a boon from Lord Brahma. He was the son of Sage Vishrava, the son of Sage Pulastha, one of the Manasputra or born of the mind of Lord Brahma. Ravana got this boon and started his mission to conquer the three worlds, beginning with Lanka ruled by Lord Kubera, his step-brother and the God of Wealth. Lord Kubera’s Pushpak Vimana caught his fancy and after he conquered all three worlds, he decided to board the same to observe all that he had conquered.
However, Ravana came to a mountain which could not be crossed by this flying chariot and this was Mount Kailash, home to Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. Ravana in his vanity, started shouting that he ruled three worlds and was approached by Nandi to whom he stated that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati would have to shift away from his path. He even tried to lift Mount Kailash but naturally failed and Ravana faced a lot of pain. Ravana then sang the Tandav Stotra for more than a hundred years and got released. Lord Shiva forgave him and gave him the Chandrahas, one of the Universe’s most powerful weapons. Goddess Parvati also gave him her protection during battle.
Rama learnt of this boon given by Goddess Parvati. He decided to pray to the Goddess and seek her blessings for winning this battle. For worshipping Devi Parvati, 108 blue lotuses or Neel Kamal were needed. Hanumana got them from Debidaha, the sole region where they were available. However, after the Puja commenced, Rama found out that there was only 107 blue lotuses with one absent. All of a sudden, Rama took an arrow and pointed the same to his right eye since he was called lotus eye or Kamal Nayan. He thought he could replace the missing lotus with one of his eyes. However, Goddess Parvati stopped him and told him how he was the avatar of Lord Vishnu. She assured Rama that due to his humbleness and devotion, he would earn victory at last. Her protection would be lifted from Ravana. In the next battle, Ravana was finally killed and Rama emerged triumphant.
This invoking of Goddess Durga or Parvati is known as Akal Bodhan. This is not the usual time to worship the Goddess and seek her blessings. However, this is the period when Durga Puja is celebrated and has been celebrated for many years. You can also check 5 things to be done during Durga Puja.
Wishing everyone a very Happy Durga Puja!