Durga Puja is a major festival of the Bengalis; but while reveling in the joy of the festivities, many of us do not know the story behind the puja and its origin. The story behind the conception of Goddess Durga is extremely interesting and no less than a medieval action adventure.
During the ancient times, there was a demon named Mahishasura. He took rigorous measures and did prolonged meditation and Lord Brahma, getting pleased with his devotion and determination empowered him with a boon. According to the boon, he cannot be killed by a god or a man. This enabled him to unleash terror on earth and heaven. His atrocities reached a pinnacle when he attacked heaven, defeated Indra, the king of gods and usurped the heaven’s throne.
The gods then went to the trinity of Supreme Gods- Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Their narration of the perpetrated evils enraged the three and their flushed faces resulted in dazzling luminescence and there was fire everywhere. All the fires met at a single point and they took a shape of a woman with ten arms. This beautiful goddess was then armed with various weapons given by the various gods. Riding a glorious lion, the goddess then went forward and defeated the armies of two chief commanders of Mahishasura, Chamara and Chikasura. Then ensued the main great battle- between the goddess and the demon where the demon finally met his match as he was invincible to all but women. Although Mahishasura tried hard to avoid his doom through magical spells, the determined goddess made the demon turn to his original form and he finally met his death with the trident piercing his chest and purging the world from this devil. The goddess to this day is imagined and worshipped in this form of her- eliminating the fearful demon.
According to the epics or puranas, the goddess Durga was worshipped by King Suratha in spring and spring being Basanta this puja was also called Basanti Puja. This worship is still prevalent but the most widely accepted one is the Akalbodhon of Ram. According to the Ramayana, when Sita was abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka, Ram went there to rescue her from his clutches. Before he began the battle against Ravana, he started to worship goddess Durga to please her and get her blessings. The goddess Durga could be pleased by offering 100 blue lotuses, but Ram could find only 99 of them and thus he decided to offer one eye which resembled a blue lotus. This devotion pleased the goddess and she blessed him. Saptami marked the beginning of the epical battle and Ravana finally died between the time period of Ashtami and Navami and cremated on Dashami.
The Durga puja performed by Ram has been adopted and accepted by the Bengalis. Thus the pujas span over four days which is the period in which Ram finally killed and creamated the king of demons Ravana.