Durga Puja is a Hindu festival, celebrated in the month of Ashvin, to commemorate the victory of Lord Durga over the demon Mahishasura. Goddess Durga is revered during the Durga Puja but other Hindu Goddesses, such as Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya are worshipped and celebrated during the festival. Maa Durga is a warrior goddess, combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, harmony and prosperity, with devotees citing her origin was to kill the demon Mahishasura. She is said to be destructive when needed and loving and nurturing when she has to be. She is the central deity in Shaktism. Goddess Durga, also referred to as Maa Durga, was deemed to have supernatural powers which have helped combat evil from Earth.
From our rich history, one such personality, who is synonymous to Maa Durga is Rani of Jhansi. Rani of Jhansi was a key member of the Revolt of 1857. She was born on 19th November, 1835 and right from a very young age, unlike her peer, she had a keen interest in learning the nuances of warfare. Eventually, she mastered the skills of horse riding, sword fighting, shooting and fencing at a very young age itself. At a very young age of 14, she was married to the King of Jhansi, and was named Laxmi Bai after the marriage. A couple of years after marriage, she gave birth to a son, who died very shortly. This traumatized the King of Jhansi, who never recovered after that and eventually succumbed to his trauma on November 21st, 1851. Post her husband’s death, Rani Laxmi Bai was at the helm of things in the kingdom. Lord Dalhousie has approved the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ around this time, which allowed the British Government to annex kingdoms, where the kings died without a legal heir. As a result of this, the kingdom of Jhansi was also under the British annexure, with the Rani of Jhansi being entitled to a pension of Rs. 5000 per annum. A few years later, the Revolt of 1857 broke out; due to a rumour that soldiers were being supplied with bullets being made of cow and pig fat. The Revolt broke out in many parts of North India and eventually spread to Jhansi. Rani Laxmi Bai led the Revolt and provided shelters to many families in her kingdom in order to save them from the British slaughter. Although she was highly skilled, the defence of the fort fell because the Britishers were better armed and equipped. She was asked to leave Jhansi, but Rani Laxmi Bai was determined and did not give up. She formed a rebellion with other leaders who were leading the Revolt and successfully conquered the fort of Gwalior. However, the Maharaja of Gwalior was a friend of the Britishers and a few days later, the British army attacked the fort and Rani of Jhansi had to flee from there. The Britishers fatally attacked her when she fled and Rani of Jhansi, due to the fatal wounds, breathed her last on June 18th, 1957.
Although Maa Durga and Rani Laxmi Bai had their existences ages apart, there were many qualities which both of them possessed in common: bravery, excellent leadership qualities (Maa Durga was a leader for a group of devotees while Rani Laxi Bai was a leader of her troop against the Britishers) and intolerance for evil (Maa Durga fought the demonic forces and protects the people while Rani Laxmi Bai fought against the injustice of the British system). Thus, it can be said that Rani Laxmi Bai would be one famous person who is synonymous with Maa Durga.