It’s time for the Durgostav (Durga Puja) yet again and people in the eastern parts of India, including places like West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Jamshedpur, know very well how celebrating the arrival of ‘Ma Durga’ will aid them in fulfilling their longings and hidden desires. It is widely believed that worshipping the goddess during these ten day festival ushers peace, prosperity and well being into one’s life.
However, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the festival of Durga Puja essentially belongs to the land of West Bengal. Each year, the Bengali population celebrates the festival with much grandeur and fervor, indulging in prayers, hymn chanting, food, dance, entertainment, pandal (temporary shrine) hopping and more.
What Mythology Says?
According to the Hindu mythology, Ma Durga, also referred to as Shakti (a symbol of infinite feminine power and strength) was bestowed with potent and powerful weapons to fight the evil Mahishasura (buffalo demon) who had earlier received blessings of not getting defeated by any man or God. As a result, Ma Durga, riding on the back of a tiger, descended the earth to kill the devil and save the gods from his atrocities. It is believed that neither Lord Shiva not Lord Vishnu could fight against the devil and put an end to his life, which is why the gods collectively approached Durga Ma and sought her might and assistance in getting rid of the water buffalo devil forever. Later, the goddess hopped on the back of a mountain lion along with her powerful weapons and conquered and killed Mahishasura, thereby restoring peace in heaven that belongs to the gods. Ever since then, Ma Durga is worshipped and invoked every year, even as devotees join hands in prayer and seek blessings and might to fight against the evil and wrongdoers.
The Scene during Durga Pujo
Durga Puja or Durga Pujo, as Bengalis prefer to call it, brings a great deal of excitement, zeal, enthusiasm and fun along with it. In West Bengal and other eastern states of India, different groups and communities come together to set up huge, artistic and innovative pandals that feature majestic and splendid idols of Ma Durga. Followers and worshippers of the goddess throng from every nook and corner to make their offerings before the goddess and seek her blessings in return. While some dance to the tune of dhakis (drums) others participate in Ma Durga aarti (devotional song) to celebrate the festival with huge spirit. During the day, every Durga Puja organizing committee prepares and distributes sumptuous bhog amongst the devotees and in the evening worshippers hop from one pandal to another to catch a glimpse of Ma Durga and admire the beauty and uniqueness of each and every temporary shrine that is set up for the amusement of the pandal hoppers. From sixth (Sashthi) to ninth day (Navami) of the festival, devotees continue to visit pandals and enjoy delicious bhog and other street foods including chaat, pani puris, dosa/idli and other vivid items prepared by street food vendors, right outside the pandal premises. On the tenth day, i.e. Vijayadashmi, devotees of Ma Durga participate in the process of Visarjan (immersing the idol of Goddess Durga in the water).
Celebrations this Year
This year the festival is being celebrated from 26th to the 30th of September and every single devotee of the goddess has already made plans for celebrating the occasion in their own unique ways. With the arrival of the idols of Durga Ma, Goddess Laxmi, Godess Saraswati, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartik, devotees are thronging to the pandals for offering their prayers and engaging in celebrations, cultural programs, bhog eating and merry-making. While, Durga Puja committees in different parts of the country have already set up attractive pandals, devotees are busy comparing each of these temporary shrines and also checking which one of them has the best looking idol this year. From morning fasts to pushpanjali and even organizing the vivid cultural programmes, devotees are in the mood to revel, enjoy feast and rejoice like never before.
– Puja Bhardwaj