Kid's Org: Devi Durga’s Vahana
Hindus consider, Devi Durga as the ‘Supreme Warrior Goddess,’ the embodiment of shakti (creative cosmic energy) and the Mother of all the beings in this world and beyond. She is the wife of Lord Shiva and the mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya. Durga is depicted with ten arms, each holding a weapon, riding a lion or tiger. Though an aspect of Parvati Herself, Durga is considered fiercer and much more powerful than the calm and serene Parvati.
Durga is said to be extremely beautiful and radiant, her form filled with stunningly brilliant aura. She manifested in order to kill the demon, Mahishasura. The Gods gave Her their weapon to enhance Her strength and powers. Shiva gave Her His trident; Vishnu, his discus; Indra, his thunderbolt, Brahma, the kamandalu; Kubera, his mace and so on.
Durga is revered as the most powerful among Goddesses. She is always shown with the lion by her side. As Santoshi Mata, she appears standing along with her vahana, the lion, as a smiling, benevolent figure. This indicates how she keeps undue aggression and arrogance under her control, without allowing it to become her own true nature. She is sometimes also worshipped in Her peaceful avatar, rightly referred to as Shanta Durga.
|Children do you know that lions are the second largest living feline species, second only to tiger. Renowned for its majesty and nicknamed ‘The king of the jungle,’ the lion possesses both beauty and strength. Lions vary in colour but typically sport light yellow-brown coats. It’s face is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture. Mature male lions are unique among big cats due the thick brown or black manes that encircle their necks and protect them while fighting. Some males exceed 250 kg (550 lb) in weight. Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia(where an endangered remnant population resides in Gir Forest National Park in India) while other types of lions have disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Asia. About 10,000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. Lion is a vulnerable species, having seen a major population decline in its African range of 30–50 per cent per two decades during the second half of the 20th century. Lion population is untenable outside designated reserves and national parks. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are currently the greatest causes of concern.
Lions live for 10–14 years in the wild, while in captivity they can live longer than 20 years. In the wild, males seldom live longer than 10 years, as injuries sustained from continual fighting with rival males greatly reduce their longevity. Lions are unusually social compared to other cats and predatory carnivore. A pride of lions consists of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males. Groups of female lions typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. Lions usually hunt in coordinated groups and stalk their chosen prey. However, they are not particularly known for their stamina. They only run fast in short bursts, and need to be close to their prey before starting the attack.
Lions are apex and keystone predators, although they are also expert scavengers obtaining over 50 per cent of their food by scavenging if opportunity allows. While lions do not typically hunt humans, some have been known to do so. Sleeping mainly during the day, lions are primarily nocturnal, although bordering on crepuscular in nature.
Being mount Himavan’s child, Himalaya gifts her a ferocious white lion. Seated on her vahana, the lion, She proceeds to attack Mahishasura, the half-buffalo, half-human asura, who had got a boon that no God, man or animal could ever kill him. Drunk with his power, he ruled the earth and the heavens and tortured and tormented both the Devas and the Suras (earthlings). Not able to defend themselves, the hapless Devas approached Parvati, who readily decided to help. Since no man could vanquish the demon, only a woman could and that is how Durga came into being.
Devi Durga undertook a severe penance before she came face to face with the asura. On the beginning of the 9th day of the waxing moon, the demons Chanda and Munda came to fight Her. The Devi turned blue with rage and the Goddess Chamunda sprang forth from Her third eye. This powerful entity killed the demons with Her sword.
Finally on the 10th day of waging a terrible battle against Mahishasura, She finally vanquishes him. Her powerful lion climbs on top of the asura, paralysing him completely, digging its sharp fangs into him. The Devi then kills him with Her trident. This day of victory is marked by the Vijaya Dashami, the tenth and final day of the major Hindu festival Navratri. In Bengal these ten days are celebrated in the form of Durga Puja. —Aniket Raja