Festival - Durga Puja: Must See India
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Durga Puja

(Durga Puja is also known as Durgotsava)
by Kapil Upload a photo
Durga means ‘she who is incomprehensible or difficult to reach’. Goddess Durga is considered the Mother of the Universe, representing infinite power of the Universe. During Durga Puja, three forms of the deity are worshipped – Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati.

This annual Hindu festival is also known as ‘Durgotsava’. It is widely celebrated in the North Eastern states of India, where it is a 5-day holiday. Six holy days are observed, i.e., Mahlaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami.

Durga Puja also includes the worship of the Lord Shiva the consort of Durga and worship of Mother Nature through 9 types of plant called as ‘Kala Bou.’ that represent the nine divine forms of Durga the Goddess. The festivities are predominant in Bengal and Northern Indian states such as Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Tripura.

Traditions


Mahishasuramardini is a 2-hour radio program that sets the mood for the day, and people wake up all early in the morning to listen to the broadcast. Pandals are set up all around and Goddess Durga is placed on a stage in her usual form, holding 10 weapons in her 10 hands. Crowds gather to offer flower worship in the mornings on all the 6 days.

The main puja lasts 3 days long; the days are the Mahasaptami, Mahaastami, and Mahanavami, which involve long complicated chants and rituals, Aartis, Mantras, Shlokas and offerings. Usually a senior priest conducts the proceedings in a community puja.

On the first day of the festival, the face of the idol is unveiled, and this is a major ritual. On the second day, we see devotees giving bath to the ‘Kola Bow’ or ‘Nabapatrika’ (plant) before dawn, which symbolizes the deity. Thereonwards, the main puja is performed, and on the third day, Sanskrit shlokas are recited and finally ‘Sandhi Puja’ is conducted. On the fourth day, that is the concluding day of the puja, ‘Navami Bhog’ is offered to the goddess and distributed as prasad to the devotees.

At the end of 6 days, the idol is immersed publicly, thus symbolically representing the departure of the Goddess to her home with her husband. After this immersion, the highlight of Vijaya Dashami is a social interaction in which families meet each other and distribute sweets in the neighbourhood.

Tourist Essential


The tourists visiting during this period are sure to catch a lot of unique and exquisite sights. The puja is held usually in a community, and Vijayadashami is essentially a day for visiting close ones and relatives. This festival is one of the most important events in the state of Bengal, and Bengalis eagerly await the festivities by shopping and preparing sweets.

Photos

by Kapil
by Kapil
 

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