The festive season of India is earmarked by the worshipping and celebration of Goddess Durga. It generally occurs in the month of September-October. The entire nation becomes more colorful and celebrates the fact of good’s win over evil.
Goddess Durga is considered to be the physical form of ‘Shakti’ or ‘Universal Energy’. She was created by the Hindu Gods to annihilate the notorious demon ‘Mahisasura’. The people of India wait for a year to welcome Goddess Durga and the most fascinating time of ten days. During this time of the year, people of all ages join their hands to celebrate the victory of Maa Durga.
The significance of this celebration is so high that it has been nominated as the UNESCO World’s Heritage List for the year 2020. Durga Puja is considered as an intangible heritage that needs to be on the map so that the entire world can find its significance.
Colorful pandals and sparkling lighting arrangements make every nook ad corner of the cities and suburbs glow. From the starting of Mahalaya, the day when Maa Durga was created by all the gods. Every god donated his part of the power and gifted devastating weapons to make her stand against the tyranny of Mahisasur. She has 10 hands with different things in every one of them. After ten days, the auspicious Vijaya Dashami arrives when the joviality ends, making everyone sad.
Maa Durga has different reincarnations. She was the daughter of the mighty Himalaya and Menka, the prime ‘apsara’ of Indralok or Heaven. She later became the wife of Lord Shiva. She was then reincarnated as ‘Maa Durga’ to kill the notorious demon. It was Lord Rama who started the ritual of Durga Puja to earmark his victory over Ravana in the Satya Yug. He pleased Maa Durga and wanted her to bless him with powers.
The different communities in West Bengal celebrate Durga Puja as the prime festival of the year. In many big historical families, this puja is considered as the social glue when all the members accumulate in their ancestral houses. The puja includes many rituals and tributes that make it really hard for someone to do it alone. As per the old traditions, the rituals continue for 5 days from ‘Shashti’ or the 6th day from Mahalaya till ‘Vijaya Dashami’. Many believe that the rituals are designed and fabricated in such a way that every family member has to come and lend his hand to complete it and harmony is maintained.
Durga Puja is also celebrated when Maa Durga returns to her mother’s home. Every celebration needs an idol of this goddess that comprises ten hands and her sons and daughters. Mahalaya is celebrated by the idol makers by drawing eyes on the idols. This is called ‘Chokkhu Daan’. A banana plant is established on ‘Saptami’ beside Lord Ganesha as his wife. On this day, every idol gets life as the rituals of ‘Pran Pratishthan’ are performed.
Various types of rituals are then performed continuously for the next 4 days. Folk dances, aarti rituals, dhunuchi naach, etc are performed by artists or locals. The special drums of Bengal roar in every pandal continuously and we all feel the chill of this puja through our spines. The Dhunuchi Naach is performed where dancers hold a clay pot containing burning dried coconut skin, incense, and camphor. People from all financial statures come in the same place to enjoy the aura of Maa Durga’s visit to her place. These five days are the happiest days for every Bengali.
1. Why was Maa Durga Created?
Ans. Mahisasur got extremely powerful after he received a boon from Lord Brahma that no man or god will be able to kill him. Feeling invincible, he waged war against the entire clan of gods. He conquered Indralok and proceeded further. Every god was distressed and scared. It is when Maa Durga was created by the gods of gods with their indomitable power. She was neither a man or a god hence, she can kill the demon for good. The buffalo demon was not an easy opponent. The battle lasted for ten days and she finally killed the demon and freed the world from evil.
2. Why is Durga Puja a Heritage of India?
Ans. Durga Puja is a huge ritual that every man in India feels thrilled to celebrate. Every Indian, especially Bengalis, waits for a year. He waits for the puja time to arrive. Irrespective of his financial status, he finds ample happiness to celebrate this puja with his family members. It has become a celebration of all ages and genders. This puja earmarks how common people can enjoy the defeat of evil by the almighty Maa Durga. All of us accumulate in the same place forgetting our differences to worship Maa Durga. This is why Durga Puja is so important for the culture and heritage of India.
3. When do the Rituals of Durga Puja Start?
Ans. It all starts on the day of Mahalaya. It is the first day of Durga Puja when the idol draws the eyes of Maa Durga and her sons and daughters on the idol. She is accompanied by her sons Ganesh and Kartik and her daughters, Lakshmi and Saraswati. ‘Pran Pratishthan’ is done on the 7th day or ‘Saptami’. These different rituals are done across ten days and end on the day of Vijaya Dashami.