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Greek Mythology Indian Mythology Navratri

Durga, Artemis and Apollo – A comparison of Indian and Greek mythology

Durga and Artemis

There are many similarities between Indian and Greek mythologies. The stories related to gods in both mythologies are very interesting. Here we are looking at Artemis, the greek goddess, who is very similar to Durga in Indian mythology.

As per Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, childbirth, virginity, wilderness and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows.

The birth of Goddess Durga (Indian mythology)

In Indian mythology, Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight demon named Mahishasura. Brahma, the Supreme Creator had given Mahishasura (an ambitious demon who had observed penance) the power not to be defeated by a male or any God. Mahishasura, thus using his powers, unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds. He created cosmic disruption and defeated The Gods of Sun, Fire, Earth, Thunder and all other Nature Gods. All the gods pleaded Brahma to do something about this.

Goddess Durga emergence

Shiva, made a request to all Gods to combine their divine energies together.Thus, to save the 3 worlds, Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and all of the Gods (Indra, Varuna, Surya, Agni, Yama, Vishwakarma etc.) emitted beams of fierce Divine Energy from their Bodies. The blinding sea of light spread in all directions of the universe like a supernova and reached the Ashram of the priest Katyayan, where all the Energies combined together to create the omnipotent Goddess Durga. The Goddess Durga took the name Katyayani from the priest, in whose ashram she appeared thus.

Birth of Artemis (Greek mythology)

Coming back to Artemis and her twin brother Apollo.

She was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and that she was the twin sister of Apollo. Artemis, the goddess of forests and hills, was worshipped throughout ancient Greece.Her best known cults were on the island of Delos (her birthplace); in Attica at Brauron and Mounikhia (near Piraeus); in Sparta. She was often depicted in paintings and statues in a forest setting, carrying a bow and arrows, like Durga, and accompanied by a deer.

Artemis never had any love affairs, but one. That was with the mortal Orion. Artemis was in love with Orion. However, upset that his sister’s time and attentions had been diverted away from him, the God Apollo, her twin, became very jealous. So when Orion was swimming far into the ocean Apollo made a wager with Artemis that she couldn’t hit the floating object on the horizon.

Artemis being the prideful archer she was took the wager gladly and proudly drew her bow and shot the object on the horizon winning the wager. However once she won she realized that the “floating object” was actually her only lover Orion. In her great grief the Goddess Artemis turned Orion into various stars and shot him into the night sky, making him a constellation in the night sky forevermore.

 

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Festival Indian Mythology

Navratri festival

Maa Durga

It is believed that Goddess Durga on her 10 day journey around the earth removes all evil. Thus navratri festival is very auspicious for hindu devotees. Devi has taken avatar to kill the king of asuras, Mahishasura. She killed the most fearsome demon Mahishasura along with others.

Maa Durga

May Goddess Durga destroy all evil around you and fill your life with happiness and prosperity.

Maa Durga

Further reading

Legends of Durga Puja

Navratri – Story

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Navratri

Nine days of navratri

Navratri festival

Navratri is a prominent festival of India. This is a ten days longer festival, tenth day is the culmination and is also called as Vijayadashmi. Mythologically, this day is the day when Lord Rama defeated and killed Ravana to free Sita from his clutches. In nine days of Navratri, various forms of Maa Durga are worshipped.

Nine forms of Durga – Navratri
Navratri is a nine day celebration, in which goddess durga is worshipped in nine different forms. Every day she assumes a new character, a new look and a new duty.

First Day – Shailputri

On first day Goddess is worshipped as, Shailputri . She is considered the daughter of the Himalayas. She is a form of Shakti, the consort of Lord Shiva.
Shailputri Devi – worshipped on first day of Navratri.

Second Day – Brahmacharini

On second day she is worshipped as Brahmacharini. Her name is derivative of the word ‘Brahma’, which means ‘Tapa’ or penance. In her right hand she holds a rosary, while Kamandal in her left hand. She is also a form of Uma or Parvati, a form of Mata Shakti.

Third Day – Chandraghanta

On the third day the Goddess is worshipped as, Chandraghanta. She is the symbolic representation of beauty and bravery. She has a half-circular moon in her forehead, hence the name ‘Chandraghanta’. With three eyes, she is golden in color. Ten types of weapons, including sword and arrows are held by her ten hands. Seated on a lion, she is always ready to go to war.

Maa Durga

Fourth Day – Kushmanda

On fourth day Goddess is worshipped as, Kushmanda. It is believed that Kushmanda is the creator of the entire universe and she has created the entire universe by her laugh. She has eight hands in seven hands she hold weapons and in the eight one she bears a string of beads. With rosary in her right hand, she sits on Lion.

Fifth Day – Skand Mata

On the fifth day, Goddess is worshipped as, Skand Mata. She is actually called so because she is here represented as the mother of Skanda, the chief warrior of the Gods army. Skanda Mata – is white in color, has three eyes and four hand. She is seated on a lion, with her son (Skanda), on her lap.

Sixth Day – Katyanani

On the sixth day, the goddess is worshipped as, Katyayani. Seated on her vehicle lion, Katyayani has three eyes and four hands.

Seventh Day – Kalratri

On the seventh day, the Goddess is worshipped as, Kalratri. As the name suggests, Kalrati is as black as a dark night. She has four hands, she is meant to make the devotees fearless thus also known as shubhamkari. She has four hands, with a sharp sword in her left hand and a burning torch in her lower left hand, her lower and upper right hand that shows blessings.

Eighth Day – Maha Gauri

On the eight day, the Mata Rani is worshipped as, Maha Gauri. She is considered to extremely beautiful, white like snow and accessorized with white colored ornaments. She represents calmness and exhibits wisdom. With three eyes and four hands, she rides on a bull. Her left hand shows the fearless Mudra, while her lower left hand holds a Trishul. Calm and peaceful Maha Gauri observed penance

Ninth Day – Siddhidatri

On the ninth day,Goddess Durga is worshipped as, Siddhidatri. It is believed she consists of all the eight siddhis. She rides on lotus and is worshipped by all the Rishis-Munis, Siddhas, Sadhakas and Yogis. It is believed that worshipping her is best for attaining religious asset.
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Festival Navratri

The story of Navratri festival

Navratri – worship of Maa Durga

Navratri is nine days of worship done to thank Goddess Durga. Whole of Iindia celebrates this festival. The festival of Navratri is celebrated twice in India.  Once in the Hindi month of Chaitra which is the month of March-April. Secondly, in the month of Ashwin  i.e.  September-October.  It is a nine days long festival in which the Goddess Durga is worshipped in nine different forms. People all over the country celebrate this festival with immense joy and enthusiasm. Devotees of Maa Durga observe a rigorous fast of nine days during this festival.

Durga – worshipped during Navratri

 

Maa Durga
In different parts of India, different legends describe the history of Navratri festival.

North India

The legend in North India goes that Mahishasura, the mighty demon, worshipped Lord Brahma and obtained the power of eternity. Soon, he started killing and harassing innocent people. He set out to win all the three lokas. The gods in swargaloka appealed to Lord Shiva, to find a way to get rid of the demon. To protect the world from the atrocities of Mahishasura, the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva united their powers and created a divine female warrior, known as Goddess Durga. Mahishasura, when he saw the divine beauty of Goddess Durga, got mesmerized. So fascinated was Mahishasura by Goddess Durga’s beauty that he approached her with the intention of marriage. The goddess agreed to marry him, but put forth a condition.
Mahishasura would have to win over her in a battle. Mahishasura, agreed immediately! The battle continued for 9 nights. At the end of the ninth night, Goddess Durga beheaded Mahishasura. The nine nights came to be known as Navratri, while the tenth day was called Vijayadashmi. This was the day that brought the triumph of good over evil.

Eastern belief

As per the legend prevalent in East India, Daksha was the king of the Himalayas. He had a beautiful and virtuous daughter called Uma. She wished to marry Lord Shiva, since her childhood. In order to win over the Lord, she worshipped him and pleased Shiva. When Shiva finally came to marry her, the tiger-skin clad groom displeased Daksha and he broke off all the relationships with his daughter and son-in-law. One fine day, Daksha organized a yagna, but did not invite Lord Shiva for the same. Uma got so angry at her father’s rude behavior, towards her husband, that she decided to end her life by jumping into the agnikund of the yagna, where she was united with eternity (since then, she came to be known as Sati). However, she took re-birth and again won Shiva as her groom and peace was restored. It is believed that since then, Uma comes every year with Ganesh, Kartik, Saraswati and Laxmi and two of her best friends or ‘sakhis‘, called Jaya and Bijaya, to visit her parent’s home during Navratri.

The legend of Rama and Ravana

Yet another legend of Navratri festival relates to the Hindu epic The Ramayana. It goes that Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga in nine aspects, for nine days, in order to gather the strength and power to kill Ravana. He wanted to release Sita from the clutches of powerful demon king Ravana, who had abducted her. Those nine nights became to be known as Navratri and the tenth day, on which Lord Rama killed Ravana, came to be called Vijayadashmi or Dusshera, signifying Rama’s (good) triumph over Ravana (evil).
Ravana killed by Rama

Nine days of Navaratri