My India – Festivals
Festivals of India – Durga Puja
Durga Puja, also referred to as Durgotsava (Festival of Durga), is a famous Hindu festival marked by worship of Mother Goddess Durga over the last five days of Navratri, in the Ashwin month of the Hindu calendar. These five days are observed as Shashthi, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Vijayadashami. The festivities culminate on the tenth day on Vijayadashami when Durga idols are carried out in grand procession and immersed in the river or other water bodies.
As per legends, the mighty demon Mahishasura vanquished the gods and their king, Indra. They then approached the Holy Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who combined their powers in the form of divine mother Durga. The revered warrior Goddess Durga vanquished the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura with a spear whilst astride a lion, after nine days of fierce battle. So the tenth day of the festival is called Vijayadashami which literally means victory on tenth day. The festival thus exemplifies the triumph of good over evil.
The Grand immersion of Durga idols happens on October 4, 2014.
Another notable date, before the start of Durga Puja, is Mahalaya. On this day, Goddess Durga is invited to come to the earth. In 2014, it falls on September 23.
Durga Puja is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Durga Puja is the most important and eagerly awaited festival in West Bengal. It is also the most significant socio-cultural event of the state.
The preparations for Durga Puja begin long before the occasion. Huge and artistically depicted mud idols of the goddess are installed to portray the triumph of good over evil. Beautifully decorated pandals are erected for housing these idols.
The rituals of Durga Puja include observing rigorous fast and offering prayers to the Goddess to seek her blessings. Conch shells (shankha) are blown and drums (dhaks) are beaten rhythmically to announce the beginning of the aarti.
During Durga Puja, devotees turn up in large numbers to worship the deity. Worship is concluded on Navami with a maha aarti (great fire ceremony), which marks the end of the important rituals and prayers. On the last day, married women offer red vermillion powder to the Goddess and smear themselves with it (this powder denotes the status of marriage). The idols are then paraded through the streets, accompanied by much music and dancing, and then immersed in rivers and lakes.
The Durga Puja festival is an extremely social and theatrical event. Drama, dance, and cultural performances are widely held. Food is a huge part of the festival, and street stalls blossom all over.
Durga Puja Pandals
The highlight of Durga Puja is no doubt visiting the many different pandals of Goddess Durga, each with a unique theme. This activity is often referred to as Puja Parikrama or Pandal Hopping. There are hundreds of pandals spread out all over the city. The most popular time for pandal hopping is in the night when they are lit up.
Durga Puja Treats
There is never a better time to sample Kolkata’s famous Bengali cuisine than Durga Puja. The festival isn’t considered to be complete without food! You will find a wide array of it everywhere – on the streets, at the pandals, and in specialty Bengali restaurants. Pandal hopping does get tiring, so
Durga Puja is the best way to satiate your hunger and pamper your palate with the best food.
Debi Boron and Sindur Khela
On the day of Dashami, Debi Boron and Sindur Khela is a famous event just before the immersion ceremony. The sindur is a symbolic representation of a married life. The married women offer sweets and sindur to the Goddess Durga as a part of traditional ritual. They then smear it on each other while wishing a happy married life and good luck.
Durga Visarjan – Immersion of Durga Idols
Durga Visarjan is marked by immersing idols of the Goddess Durga in water. Also called Nimajjan, it is the concluding event in the final day of the Durga Puja.
Vijayadashami is celebrated as victory of Lord Rama over demon Ravana and also triumph of Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon Mahishasura. On the day of Dashami, after the immersion ceremony, Shubho Bijoya greetings and sweets are exchanged.
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The celebration of victory of good over evil.
Twelve famous pandals visited during Durga Puja in Kolkata.