Mythological Background

The story goes like this: Mahishasura the king of demons was granted a boon by Lord Shiva after years of austerities that no man or deity could ever kill him. This gave the demon king tremendous power and he went on a rampage of terrorizing the inhabitants of heaven. He was filled with an immense urge to conquer all and rule the world and usurped the throne of the deity's.

The Gods scared of Mahishasura went to Lord Shiva (who granted the boon), Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu for help. The three Gods combined their divine energy and created a feminine form of a glaring light. From the light emerged a Devi Durga, a beautiful women with ten arms riding a lion. Durga Puja is the worship of the mother. It is the worship of "Shakti" or the Divine power. The Gods gave her a symbol of their strength before she set off to kill Mahishasura. She got ten weapons, discus from Lord Vishnu, trident form Lord Shiva, conch shell from Varuna, Agni's flaming dart, Vayu's bow; Surya's quiver and arrow; Yama's iron rod; Indra's thunderbolt; Kubera's club and a garland of snakes from Shesha and a lion as a charger from Himalayas.
After acquiring the divine power in her ten hands Durga set forth to kill the demon king. Mahishasura when attacked in the form of a buffalo, Devi Durga beheaded the buffalo and the demon king appeared in his original form. Durga then pierced his chest with the trident and relieved his tyranny from the world. She is known as “Durgatinashini Durga”, our mother goddess who destroys the evil, protects her devotees and maintains prosperity on earth. It is believed the Devi had appeared in different times with different names to abolish evil but that is another story.  

Another version of this story is that we believe that this was the time when Durga (daughter of the earth) came to her parents house with her kids Ganesha, Laxmi, Karthik, and Saraswati for her annual visits. Durga stays for Shashti, Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami. She leaves for her husband’s home on Vijaya Dasami. Many of the idols put up in the pandals on the streets depict this.

There is a believe that Durga travels to earth on modes like the elephant, a horse, palanquin, boat all signify luck and omen which influence the life of the earth. This is indicated in the scriptures. The elephant signifies prosperity and good harvest while journey on a horseback indicates drought, a palanquin spells wide spread epidemic and the boat suggests flood and misery.