Different festivals and different colours are one of the identities of being Indian. We have 13 festivals to celebrate in 12th months. Durga puja is considered as one of the major and longest (10 consecutive days) celebrated festival of India, which is predominantly celebrated in the eastern Indian, especially West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Assam. Durga Puja is also called as Navaratri in some parts of India. Navaratri Begins with the arrival of Mahalaya and ends with Vijaya Dashami. Durga puja 2020 will be celebrated from the 17th of October to 26th October.
Devil with Boon !!
Mahishasura – The buffalo demon
[Mahisha– Buffalo ; Asura – Demon]
According to Indian Mythology. Mahishasura was an ancient king of India, about a billion years ago (Vishnu Purana). His body was half human and half animal, with a body of Human and head of a buffalo. He was a loyal devotee of Lord Brahma and went through a hard penance for an immortality boon. After a very long penance, a pleased Lord Brahma asked him for a wish. At first, Mahishasura asked for his immortality, or a wish that no ‘Man or Animal’ could kill him. Brahma granted his second wish and said that ‘his life will be ended up by a Woman’
Blind with power, strength, and ego, Mahishasura considered himself the most powerful creature of this world and did not believe that a woman can kill him! Mahishasura started to attack the Trilok (Heaven, earth, and hell) and dejected them all because of his boon and once he tried to capture Lord Indra (the king of heaven)
Birth Of Mahishasura Mardini
With the Trilok victory of Mahisashasura, all the Devs (gods) started to panic and went to Lord Vishnu and asked for help. After listening to the situation, the Trimurti (Brahma, Bishnu, and Shiva) decided to establish a Female Goddess who could defeat the Mahishasura. Durga Maa is an incarnation of Parvati, who is the wife of Mahadev (Shiva) and the daughter of the Himalaya.
War Against The Buffalo Demon
The battle began between Devas and Asura. Lord Indra was leading the Devas Army and Mahishasura was leading the Asura’s army. Indra was facing defeat from Mahishasura. By looking at this, all the Devas gathered at the top of the Himalayan mountain range and called out to the The Tridev for help. Tridev combined their powers and created a Female form call Durga Maa. Maa Durga then lead the army and fought against Mahishasura. It was a 10-day long battle. During the battle, Mahishasura kept changing his appearance and transformed into different animal to mislead her. Finally, the battle came to end on the 10th day of Durga puja, when Mahishasura came to his buffalo form and that day is celebrated as Vijaya Dashami. Where Vijaya means victory. Victory against the devil and spread of peace whole over the world.
Durga Puja Rituals And Traditions
Even though it is a 10 days festival, majorly celebration starts on the 5th of the festival. And each day is identified by different rituals.
1st day of the Durga puja is known as Mahalaya.
Chakhyudan – Chakhyudan is a significant event on Shubho Mahalaya, where the artist paints the eyes on the Deity. And thus completes the Durga idol.
Tapan – It is a common ritual, where people offer food and water to their ancestors as an art of thankfulness.
Maha Shashti - (22 October 2020)
Officially Durga puja starts from Maha Shashti. It is believed that on this day Durga Maa along with her four children – Ganesh, Kartika, Saraswati, and Lakhmi came to the earth. Durga Maa is decorated with many ornaments, Sindoor and Alta.
Bodhan – (Invocation of Deity) – Unveiling the face of the deity.
Amontran – Welcoming the Goddesses
Abidad – Establishing the deity on the puja Pandal
Mythology – Since a long period of time people have been believing that on this day Durga Maa came to her father’s house along with her 4 children. And so, the women of the house get ready with their ornaments, new clothes, sindoor, Alta.
I can clearly remember when I was a small kid, my Maa used to dress me up with new clothes and my sister would apply Mehandi and Alta, drew small alta stickers on the door’s both sides as a symbol of home decoration, and get ready to welcome Durga Maa.
Maha Shaptami - 23 October 2020
The 7th day of Durga puja and also call asana Saptami and the Pranpatitha is the most significant ritual that takes place this day.
It is believed that the Poojari brings the idols into living form by chanting some special mantras.
Kola bou’ or ‘Nabapatrika’
Before the rise, a banana tree is submerged in the holy water and dressed as a newly-wed bride and keep with the Durga Maa Idol. Apart from these, another 9 plants also are kept there, which represent the 9 forms of Maa Durga. Some people believe that Kola bou is the wife of Ganesh and she brings strength with her.
Maha Ashtami/ Durga Ashtami- 24 October 2020
According to mythology, the weapon for the battles were worshiped today.
Puspanjali – This is the significant ritual of the 8th day of puja. In which people fast in the morning and take food after the ritual where they offer flower to Goddess. Offering flowers is the daily activity for the pandits but today everyone can take part in this.
Kumari Puja – The virgin form of Maa Durga is worshipped on this day. That is the reason behind the name – Kumari puja.
Dhunuchi naach – This the famous dance form and specially performed in west Bengal during Durga puja. Where people dance with the rhythmic melody of dhole/dhaak with an earthen vessel filled with burning camphor and coconut’s husks.
Sandhi Puja in evening
Sandhi puja is the worship of chamunda (chondo and Munda) avatar of Maa Durga where she opens her 3rd eye. A special pooja is offered to the deity during this time. It is about 48 minutes (but the most powerful one) where 108 lamps are lighted up and 108 lotuses are offered. In ancient times, In sandhi pooja people used to sacrifice animal in order to complete the puja. Nowadays animals’ sacrifice is replaced by the sacrifice of some vegetables such as banana, Cucumber and Pumpkin.
Maha Navami - 25 October 2020
End of the Sandhi puja is the beginning of Maha Navami. Back to my place (Orissa), on Durga Navami, people invite Brahmin girls (who are believed to be the incarnation of the Goddess) to their homes. And the girls are gifted a lot of clothes, ornaments, food items, and other offerings.
Bijaya Dashami - 26 October 2020
Bijay means victory
Dashmi – on 10th day
Vijay Dashmi is the last day of Durga puja and the end of the battle between Deva and Asura. Maa Durga killed Mahisasura with the help of her trident in front of 33 million Gods and Goddesses.
Kolkata Dashmi puja/ Dussehra
Kolkata other than it’s delicious sweets, is also famous for Durga puja. In west Bengal, Sindoor khaal is one of the famous rituals on this day. During this ritual, married women throw sindoor on each other. They belives that Sindoor brings goodwill in their marital life and increases fertility in women.
Durga Pujas 2020 - Visarjan
Celebrating with the sounds of drums and trumpets, the earthen images are taken to the near water resource, where they immersed, thus marking the end of this festival. And Durga Maa leaves us on another year await.
In Kolkata’s Durga puja, the idols are immersed on the Vijaya Dashami day itself but in some other place like Odia and Jharkhand, they keep the idols for some more days so that devoted can come and take blessings