Inspired by Devi Mahatmyam and Devi Bhagavatham, this performance rendered through koodiyattam—one of the oldest living theatre traditions of the world from Kerala, India—tells the classic tale of the slaying of Mahishasura by the goddess Devi.
Once a young man, Mahishasura was offered a boon by the divine Brahma upon the completion of his penance, lasting over ten thousand years. He asked to be immortal, but was instead granted invulnerability against any man or male species who tried to kill him. As such, Brahma blessed Mahisahsura with death at the hands of a woman.
Having been granted his wish, Mahishasura became very powerful and conquered lands great and far, until there was none left to take over. He set his eyes out on claiming heaven, engaging the gods in a battle. However, due to his blessing, Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and Indra were all no match for him. They fled, finding refuge in the mountains to think of a solution to this problem.
The gods gathered their collective energy to create a massive light, from which the most resplendent and powerful devi emerged on a ferocious lion, with eighteen arms all wielding different weapons. She created fear in the heart of the asuras and awe in the heart of the gods, and set out towards the battlefield blowing her conch.
Provoked by the sound, Mahishasura sought Devi out and immediately fell in love with her beauty. He set out to the battlefield in disguised, and is struck by the arrows of Kama, the god of love. He made a marriage proposal to Devi, followed by a threat: either marry him or face a battle.
His words infuriated Devi, who immediately set out to battle with Mahishasura. Devi drank over and over from her chalice of wine and when drunken, beheaded Mahishasura. Thus, Devi restored balance in the world and restored heaven back to the gods.
This programme is supported by Mudra Cultural Society, Singapore.