Three Durgas – Micro, Small & Medium
The Dashara festivity is a pan-Indian celebration though known by various names and observed in honour of different Gods.
In the Eastern belt it is more pompously observed as Durga Puja while in the North it is celebrated as Ram Leela. In South it is Navrathri, in praise of Goddesses Lakshmi, Shakthi, and Saraswathi – three days for each one of them.
But the theme is universal – victory of good over evil. Durga Puja is in honour of Goddess Durga’s victory over Mahishasura (Mahisha=buffalo, asura=demon), a super powered demon king.
The theme of Mahaishasuramardhini invariably finds a place in most of the Siva temples in South India as part of the overall beautification effort.
A Durga image is also part of the architectural style as koshta devta on the northern outer wall of garbhagraha (sanctum sanctorum) in Siva temples. Devotees will throng her on Tuesdays and Fridays.
As I was wo(a)ndering at the 1000-year-old Big Temple in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu some time back, I happened to notice a few miniature sculptures in the Subramanya (Kartikeya) temple within that vast complex. This shrine dedicated to Kartikeya is believed to have been built later in 1600 AD, i.e. 600 years since now. This shrine is praised as one of the finest examples of South Indian temple architecture, replete with sculptures big, small & micro. I found three images of Mahaishasuramardhini on the walls of this shrine.
The mini sculpture, though slightly damaged, is a finely executed piece in black granite stone. This is in the usual posture of a victorious Durga. I found the small sculpture along the base of the shrine as a different one in that it depicts Durga on the actual battle, riding the lion and aiming an arrow at Mahishasura. The medium sculpture placed at the window is a very graceful one, also damaged slightly. This is also in the usual posture of a victorious Mahaishasura-mardhini at the final stage of battle. The latter two are carved out of pinkish stone that add to the beauty of these images.
Talking of Durga, I am reminded of Smt. Durga Stalin, wife of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Shri M.K. Stalin. While he claims to be an atheist like his father, she is a believer. Atheism, according to the father-son duo is anti-Hinduism or hating Hinduism. Maybe they should be dubbed pseudo atheists ! Let Durga (Goddess Durga and also Mrs. Durga Stalin) give the right sense to such fake atheists!