In keeping with the spirit of this time of the year, these guys have been discussing more spiritual topics for some time now. And the other day, i found Hardy waxing eloquent about the mythology which is an important part of Hinduism, and its sheer richness.
According to him, the beauty of Hindu mythology comes from its sheer vastness, and the rich tapestry of spiritual and philosophical truths so wonderfully told in the form of stories which captivate children, young and old alike, and how all of these diverse stories are inter-connected with each other in ways which make the stories sound complete, and complete the philosophical grounding for these stories.
There are a number of stories which converge towards the celebration of Durga Puja or Dussehra or Vijay Dashami. These all start from different parts of Hindu mythology, and all yet converge at the same festival.
The legend behind Durga Puja emerges from the demon king Mahishasura who, with severe to Lord Shiva, asked for a boon that he may not be killed by man or God, and he got the boon that he wont be killed by man or God, but by a woman. He was quite satisfied, believing that no woman would ever be born who would be able to kill him. And so, he started waging war on the Gods, and drove them out of heaven, and unleashed a reign of terror on all righteousness. At this point, the Gods petitioned the Trinity, and Lord Brahma (the Creator), Lord Vishnu (the Preserver), and Lord Shiva (the Destroyer), had their Divine Energy coming out from them, and merging to build the Goddess Durga, the woman who would slay the demon Mahishasura. Thus, the Goddess Durga is the embodiment of the Divine Energy of God. She then went after Mahishasura. Before Her, Her sons, Ganesh and Kumar fought the demon, but were defeated in battle, because of the boon he had got. After this, Goddess Durga came into the battlefield, and fought through all the deception brought forward by Mahishasura and slew him, thereby ridding the world of the demonic tendencies. This is why She is also called Mahishasur Mardini.
Another legend is that Lord Rama, in pursuit of Ravana, to rescue Goddess Sita, was battling the armies of Lanka, ruled by Ravana. Before the final battle, though, He invoked the Goddess Durga for Her blessings in the battle to follow. To propitiate the Goddess, he decided to offer Her 108 blue lotuses. He found 107 blue lotuses, and not being able to find the last one, He decided to offer His eye to the Goddess, as His eyes were like blue lotuses. At this, the Goddess Durga emerged to Lord Rama and blessed Him with victory. Since this was not the usual time of the year for worshipping Goddess Durga (which is in spring), this is also called Akal Badhun. With the blessings of Goddess Durga, Lord Rama was able to defeat Ravana in the final battle, and slay him. And it is at this occasion that the festival of Dussehra or Vijay Dashami (the 10th day of the waxing cycle of the moon during the month of Ashvin which represents the victory of good over evil) is celebrated. This is followed, 20 days later, by the festival of Deepawali, when Lord Rama, with Goddess Sita, and His brother, Lakshmana, returned to His capital, Ayodhya, which is celebrated in Bengal as the festival of Kali Pooja, the worship of the Goddess Kali.
Another legend has it that Lord Shiva’s wife, Uma, not able to bear the insult to Her husband meted by Her father, the King Daksha, ended Her life. This enrage Lord Shiva, who took the body of His wife, and in His rage, started dancing the Tandava, the dance of universal destruction. The Gods, worried by this, approached Lord Vishnu, as this would lead to the destruction of all creation. Lord Vishnu, with His discus (Sudarshan Chakra), dismembered the body, and with this dismemberment, Lord Shiva calmed down, and stopped the dance of destruction. The parts of Uma’s body fell on the earth, at different parts of the world, and these parts today are major temples dedicated to the Mother Goddess. These temples are called Shakti Peeths (seats of Divine power). Uma took rebirth as Parvati (daughter of Parvat, or the King of Mountains), and became the Divine Consort of Lord Shiva. Legend has it at during this time Goddess Parvati, along with Her children, comes to her Father’s house for a few days.