Durga Puja

Durga Puja

Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsava, is celebrated in the autumn season. Although this festival is celebrated in many states of India including Orissa, Assam. Tripura, it is considered one of the biggest festivals in the State of West Bengal where it is associated with a 10-day period of holiday and celebrations.
The days of worship include ‘Mahalaya’, ‘Shashti’, ‘Maha Saptami’, ‘Maha Ashtami’, ‘Maha Navami’ and ‘Bijoya Dashami’. Mahalaya marks the beginning of the Puja but it is only during Shashti that the idol of Durga is unveiled. Saptami is the first day when the Puja begins and leads to Ashtami during which the celebrations for the victory over Mahisasura starts. Navami is characterized by offering of food or ‘bhog’ to the Goddess which is then distributed to the devotees. Dashami marks the end of the Puja and the idol of Durga is immersed into sacred water. These six days symbolizes the annual visit of the Goddess with her 4 kids to her parents’ house and Dashami marks her return to her husband Lord Shiva.
During Durga Puja, the idol of Durga is worshipped along with the idols of Ganesha, Kartikeya, Saraswati and Lakshmi. This Puja is also characterized by much fanfare with all sections of society and age groups involved in the celebrations. Drummers are invited to accompany the shlokas and chanting during the aarti.

The preparations for Durga Puja start a few months earlier to the Festival. Clay models of the idols of Goddess Durga, Mahisasura, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Saraswati and Lakshmi are modeled and decorated with ornaments. These idols are places in pandals which are structures constructed with bamboos, paper, wood and other materials. Relatives from all over the World visit their families and friends in West Bengal to celebrate this Puja together. The streets of Kolkata (capital of West Bengal) is well lit and decorated for the Puja-days and special buses and other options for commuting are arranged for the visitors so that they can visit different ‘pandals’.
The religious significance of Durga Puja is not lost on Hindus. It marks the emergence of all-powerful Shakti to fight the negative forces. It also reminds people that in order to become spiritual aware they have to cleanse their soul of vices like anger, greed, lust and other sins. The slaying of Mahisasura marks the end of all that is bad in the World with the victory of the Supreme Shakti.