Folklore: The World of Dasara
October 14, 2016
Acting as the culmination of the nine-day-long Navaratri festival, Dasara is a Hindu calendar day celebrated in India and Nepal, which symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
Photographer Navin Prabhu’s works wonderfully depict the happenings and the people at the parade that took place last Tuesday, October 11th. Each region holds its own festivals and parades according to different traditions and beliefs.
Here is the story behind the celebrations at Mutharamman Temple in the town of Kulasekara Patinam down in southern India – one that celebrates the victory of Durga over the demon Mahishasura.
In Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga represents the power that preserves order and righteousness in creation. She is believed to have been incarnated in order to slay Mahishasura. Often depicted as a warrior with many hands carrying holy weapons that represent her teachings, she is in charge of destroying evil forces and energies.
According to Hindu mythology, Mahishasura was born to the king of Asuras and a she-buffalo, creating a half-human, half-buffalo. The Asuras and the Devas were enemies and Mahishasura aimed to make himself invincible in order to annihilate them. To do so, he asked Brahma to grant him immortality, but Brahma refused and instead told him that his death would happen in the hands of a woman. Mahishasura assumed this meant he was indeed immortal, as he did not believe that a woman could kill a creature of his strength. Assured, he declared war with the Devas, unleashing a reign of terror around the world.
The Devas were defeated and, the gods that had been vanquished by the Asuras during the turmoil reached out to Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu for help. The trinity incarnated Goddess Durga in one of her many forms.
Armed with weapons and deities, Durga headed to challenge Mahishasura to fight, to which he responded by sending his army lead by a myriad of demons. Durga and her deities were attacked but managed to rise unbeaten from the battle.
Alone and enraged, Mahishasura morphed into different creatures to fight Durga, but in the end, he was beheaded by the goddess, proving Braham’s prophecy to be true – that his death would come in the hands of a woman.
A wonderful festival that should be added to everyone’s bucket list. This year, over one million people came to celebrate it – be it through prayer meetings, food offerings at temples, holding fairs and parades where you will feel as though you have been transported into the magical world of Hindu mythology.
All images belong to Naviin Prabhu, who kindly let us utilize them for this post. To see more of his work, head over to his Instagram page.