The gods gifted Durga with their weapons and divine objects to help her in her battle with the Mahishasura. Lord Shiva gave her a trident while Lord Vishnu gave her a disc. Varuna, gave her a conch and noose, and Agni gave her a spear. From Vayu, she received arrows. Indra, gave her a thunderbolt, and the gift of his white-skinned elephant Airavata was a bell. From Yama, she received a sword and shield and from Vishwakarma (god of Architecture), an axe and armor. The god of mountains, Himavat gifted her with jewels and a lion to ride on. Durga was also given many other precious and magical gifts, new clothing, and a garland of immortal lotuses for her head and breasts.
The beautiful Durga, bedecked in jewels and golden armor and equipped with the fearsome weaponry of the gods, was ready to engage in battle with the fierce and cruel Mahishasura. Her lion’s thunderous roars shook the three worlds. Oceans boiled and surf poured overland. Continents were torn at their granite foundations as whole new chains of mountains rose, while older ranges crumbled, cracked, and gave way to dust in a thousand landslides. Mahishasura and his demon allies found their attention drawn from heaven to Earth, as Durga’s power moved its way towards heaven. Though confident of their power and control in heaven, the demons could not help being awestruck.
An important festival of the Hindus associated with goddess Durga is that of Durga Puja, which has been celebrated for ages by Hindus. In the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana there are various references to goddess Durga. When the Pandavas entered the capital of Virata for their period of one year in disguise they propitiated Durga who appeared before them and granted them boons. Again, at the commencement of the great war of Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna advised Arjuna to worship Goddess Durga to ensure victory in battle.
The festival of Durga Puja is popularly attributed to a tale from the Hindu epic, Ramayana. Lord Rama went to Lanka, the kingdom of Ravana – the demon king, to rescue his abducted wife, Sita. Before starting for his battle with Ravana, Rama wanted the blessings of goddess Durga. He came to know that the goddess would be pleased only if she is worshipped with one hundred eight ‘Neel Kamal’ or blue lotuses. Rama, after travelling the whole world, could gather only one hundred seven of them. He finally decided to offer one of his eyes, which resembled a blue lotus. Durga, being pleased with the devotion of Rama, appeared before him and blessed him. The battle with Ravana started on the ‘Saptami’ (the seventh day after the new moon of Durga Puja) and Ravana was finally killed on the the crossover period between Ashtami (the eighth day after new moon) and Navami (the ninth day after new moon). Ravana was cremated on Dashami. Since the period of this worship was different from the conventional period of worship of Durga (during the spring – ‘Basanta’), this puja is also known as ‘Akal-Bodhan’ at an unusual time.
Durga Puja is a Hindu festival observed in Ashwin Navaratri (month of October) and is celebrated all over India with great joy especially in West Bengal. The festival is also popular by other names like Dusshera and Navaratri. The ten days of festivity are dedicated to the supreme mother goddess Durga.