As our most important festival “Dashain” approaches, we get immersed in jubilant and celebratory mood on each passing day. We plan for the holidays if we are in Nepal or plan for community dashain programs if we are abroad. No matter where we are, we get ready to get blessings from Mother Durga and our elders.
Dashain festival has a religious and historic aspect that we all remember during the festivity period. It is the celebration of victory of Goddess Durga over the Asur Mahishasur. The literal meaning of Mahishasur is a demon who could disguise himself as a water buffalo. He attacked swarga lok (heaven) and terrified the Gods, so Mother Durga had to come to rescue. She fought a ten day long battle and killed Mahishahur on the tenth day. Hence, the victory was celebrated and has been continuing as a festival to this day. During Dashain mother Durga is worshipped for ten days from the day of Ghatasthapana. On the tenth day, after the puja is complete, youngers receive tika, jamara (Durga’s favourite flower) and blessings from elders as Durga’s prasad.
As women and mothers it holds a special significance to us because Durga is a woman and yet she was the ultimate source of power and strength. She single handedly fought the battle and won it. We should follow the footsteps of our Goddess and be determined to win the battle over the cruelty and weaknesses that lie around us, our environment, our society and most of all within us. Various forms of demons try to raise their heads within ourselves which we may or may not be aware. Jealousy, love for power, inflated pride, treachery, conspiracy, back mouthing, hypocrisy, laziness, hate, inferiority or superiority complex are few of the various forms of negative energies that try to play us all the time. They drag us to a living hell every time they raise their head within us. We may not realize the important role they have in poaching our happiness. We may be jealous when somebody finds a new job and think that it is all but natural to feel that way. However, being jealous will only make us unhappy. It will close our heart and mind to think in a positive way. We should always be vigilant of such feelings and expel them as soon as they try to enter us.
Mother Durga is worshipped as the goddess of strength as she was the only force that was able to save the Gods from Mahishasur. This emphasizes how much our family and society depends on each of us as mothers to protect them. We are the pillars of our families. Our families gain strength from us even if they do not realize. As Dashain approaches, we should all be prepared to revitalize ourselves and follow the footsteps of Goddess Durga as we worship her.
There is a custom of offering animals to Mata Durga. Sacrificing of animals, such as water buffalo or goat, is actually the symbol of sacrificing the evil within us in front of Mata Durga. It is highly doubtful, if our mata will be happy to receive the material sacrifice. However, if we vow in front of her on the auspicious day, to sacrifice at least one of our bad habits, she will no doubt be very pleased with us and bless us with her energy to help us achieve our goals. We can at least try to win over our weakness, for trying is the first step towards success. The effort that we put into changing ourselves is the real devotion of Durga Mata.
Durga mata, bless us!!! Bless us so that we realize our mistakes and shortcomings. Bless us to locate the dragging negative force that lies within us. Bless us to identify the demons that live deep inside us. And then, bless us with the strength to kill them just the way you killed Mahishasur. Let glory be yours and let us follow you!!!