Durga Puja is such an occasion for which the people of Bengal wait for the entire year. Apart from ‘rosogolla’, ‘mishti doi’, ‘maach’ and ‘ami tomake bhalobashi’, the Bengalis are known across the nation for their Durga Puja.
As the name suggests, Durga Puja is the festival in which Devi Durga is worshipped. It is known to all that Devi Durga is worshipped as the ‘mother’. But there are certain areas too where Mahishasur, who is generally believed to be the evil force, is worshipped. The tribal believe Mahishasur to be a part of them, while Devi Durga is the representative of the upper caste. According to them, Mahishasur, the buffalo-tribal king was deceived and killed by Durga (the domination and torture on the tribal by the upper caste).
When the entire Bengal is engrossed in festivities, the tribal or Asuras spend the time in mourning. In Purulia, West Bengal, this is a popular tradition of the tribal. They worship Mahishasur during the days of Durga Puja. Even a big fair is organised by them. Apart from West Bengal, the Santhal tribes of Jharkhand and the Korku tribes of Madhya Pradesh also follow the same tradition. They believe themselves to be the descendent of Mahishasur.
Mahishasur is seen as a martyr. Tribal and Dalit communities such as Bagdi, Santhalis, Mundas and even Namasudras take part in the grief. During the nine days of Durga Puja, they mostly spend the daytime inside their homes and only come out at night to offer prayers.
The worship of Mahishasur is not only restricted to the tribal communities. 13 km away from Mysore, on the Chamundi Hills is a huge statue of Mahishasur. The statue is holding a cobra in one hand and a sword in another. Even the name Mysore comes from Mahishasurana Ooru (Mahishasur’s country). Mahishasur was the king of Mysore, according to a legend. He was not an Asura (devil) but a very good ruler. Hence, the majestic statue was made. The colourfully painted statue has become the main attraction of the Chamundi Hills and a prominent spot of Mysore tourism.