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How Ecological Harmony plays an important role in Durga Puja

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Durga Puja is considered to be a festival that not just reflects a celebration of the masses, but also that of Nature. Each and every element of nature somehow or the other gets reflected in the vignettes of Ma Durga, be it the Vahanas or even the children of Durga. Lord Ganesha (who fulfills all desires), is a combination of Elephant and Man. The elephant is worshipped in the country and even today forms an integral part of many temples and festivals. The Mouse mount of Lord Ganesha - “The remover of obstacles”: represents greed and desires in human life which the Lord helps to remove it from our life. 

The Owl vahana of Goddess Lakshmi - “Goddess of fortune and wealth”: The owl - the bird of darkness that is blind during the day (symbol of a vidya or darkness of ignorance), tells us to look beyond the glamour of worldly possessions and seek inner wisdom. Owls also prey over pests that cause damage to agricultural wealth.

The Swan vahana of Goddess Saraswati - “Goddess who removes ignorance”: The Swan possesses a peculiar power of separating milk from water. It stands for viveka (wisdom) and hence for vidya (knowledge). 

The Peacock vahana of Lord Kartikeya – “God of war and purity”: Peacock- a pious bird that grips with its feet a serpent, which symbolizes the ego and desires of people. The peacock represents the destroyer of harmful habits and the conqueror of sensual desires. 

Mahishasura – The Buffalo demon: Mahishasura symbolically represents the forces of ignorance and chaos and the vile enemies lurking within, hidden by outside appearances. These have to be recognized as a part of reality and subdued for survival and progress. The buffalo has an important role in the religion of tribal groups and the representation of buffalo as a demon may be linked with the absorption of tribal cults into Hinduism. 

The four deities accompanying the Mother Goddess suggests a ‘holistic approach to divinity and the need to see disparate things in a harmonious blend.’ Another significant aspect is the harmonious relationship between the natural enemies. As the peacock eats the snake, the snake and owl eat the mouse, swan and mouse eat grains and the lion eats the buffalo. But they all live in the same ecosystem and Mother Nature protects them all. This reflects ‘the creative mystery of the divine design and their necessary coexistence’. 

Thus, when a devotee worships the family of Ma Durga, he/she observes this coexistence and is influenced by what in contemporary times might be seen as analogous to the concept of ecological harmony and respect for biological diversity. 

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