Festive Season of Durga Puja in India
Hindus form a major proportion of the Population in India and have a large number of festivals. One such celebration is Durga Puja when they commemorate the descent of Mother Goddess Durga on Earth. Here is what this holy festival is about and how Indians celebrate it.
About Durga Puja
The festival of Durga puja revolves around the worship of the Hindu goddess, Durga, pictured as the ten-armed mother goddess. Durga Puja is a very prominent festival in West Bengal. People celebrate the Puja in the month of Ashwin according to the Hindu calendar. On the Gregorian Calendar, it falls in September or October.
Durga Puja is a ten-day festival and starts on the day when Lord Rama started fighting in the epic battle against the Demon King of Lanka, Ravana. Ravana abducted Sita, wife of Lord Rama.
People believe that the first Durga Puja occurred in Bengal in the 16th century AD. The tradition expanded to Delhi in 1911 as the Bengalis migrated to the new capital of British India to work. Soon the public holiday started to expand towards other cities to which Bengalis migrated. However, even today, the most significant and extravagant celebration of Durga Puja takes place in Kolkata.
How is Durga Puja Celebrated in India?
The festival of Durga puja lasts for ten days. People celebrate it by fasting, worshipping goddess Durga and feasting. However, the most important celebrations are in the last five days.
These five days are termed- Shashti, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, and Dashmi.
- Shashti – On this day, Goddess Durga descended on the earth with her four children. The descent occurred after being invoked by the worshippers. On this day, devotees draw eyes on the idols of the goddess.
- Saptami – On Saptami, after a complex ritual, Goddess Durga is believed to enter the idols that have been installed to depict her.
- Ashtami – It is on Ashtami that Goddess Durga killed the henchmen of Demon King Ravana, Munda, and Chanda. On this day, Hindus carry around her statute to mark the time of slaying in the past.
- Navami – On the 9th day, communities hold a great fire ceremony to honour the killing of demons by Maa Durga in the epic battle. People wear new clothes and participate in the feast on the food offered to Durga to celebrate.
- Dashami – Idols of Maa Durga are carried around the city in grand processions. People celebrate the day by dancing and playing music. Devotees immerse statues on rivers and other water bodies. Worshippers then go to their homes, and in the evening they wear traditional dresses and visit relatives and friends to share sweets and meals.
Different Ways of Celebrations of Durga Puja Across Different States of India
India is a country with variations, and each part has different traditions to celebrate Durga Puja.
Following are some of the ways in which major cities celebrate Durga Puja:
- Kolkata is the city where the celebration of Durga Puja is grandest. You will observe Pandals on every corner. Encountering Dance and Dramas depicting the epic battle is also quite common.
- Kumartuli is not a major city of India, but it comes alive during the festival of Durga Puja. Most of the idols, statues and paintings of Goddess Durga come from here. Most of the idols are of clay.
- Delhi also witnesses the celebration of Durga Puja on a large scale. Chittaranjan Park, or miniature Kolkata, attracts a large number of worshippers and tourists. This was the place where people conducted the first Durga Puja.
- The Bengal Club in Mumbai has been organizing a Durga Puja Celebration in Shivaji Park every year since the 1950s. Another celebration in Lokhandwala, Mumbai takes place where celebrities come to take the blessings of Mother Goddess Durga.
- People in cities of Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata play dandiya and Garba to celebrate the 9 auspicious days of Navratri. Gujaratis celebrate the festival in a grand way every night inviting friends and family to play Garba and dandiya.
- In Telangana, a day before Dussehra, people play Bathukamma, a floral festival for almost seven days. They arrange medicinal flowers in a stack and danced around them. The devotees thank Lord Durga for life, harvest and also womanhood.
One of the major festivals in India, Hindus celebrate Durga Puja in different ways in different states. Additionally, Diwali immediately follows Durga Puja within a few weeks, bringing the state of festivity and joy across India.