Maha Navami is celebrated in October, or sometimes November, depending on the lunar date in the Hindu calendar. In 2021, it falls on October 12. 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 all over the world 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 captured 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 10 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 had the ability to shapeshift between the human and buffalo forms. Durga and Mahishasura fought for nine days. 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 had been almost toppled by Mahishasura.
Since then, the day is celebrated as Maha Navami and day 10 as Vijayadashami (meaning both ‘victory’ and ‘10th’), a victory of good over evil.