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Durga Puja

Place: West Bengal
Time : October
Significance: Veneration to Goddess Durga
Date: 7.10.2016 - 11.10.2016

Durga puja is performed during the nine days of Navaratri. According to the Hindu calendar it falls on the first nine days of the month of Ashwin (october). It is celebrated all over India, but with great zeal in the eastern part of India especially West Bengal. 

In West Bengal, it is celebrated in most households apart from the gaily-decorated puja mandaps that are erected in almost every locality. The puja pandals have beautifully decorated images of the goddess Durga and community pujas are organised. People gather here in large numbers to enjoy the festivities. Families visit each other to share feasts.

The festivities start with the first day called Mahalaya, when people remember their ancestors (tarpan) and 'chakku dan' the ritual of drawing the eyes of the image is performed. The first day as well as the following days of Sashthi, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami or Bijoya Dashami have their own unique rituals. On Sashthi, all mothers keep a fast and pray for the well being of their children. 

The religious ceremony starts on Saptami or the seventh day and are observed till Dashami, the tenth day. 'Bodhun' the ritual of  infusing life to the Goddess (Pran Pratishta) is performed on Saptami, when a banana plant draped in a yellow saree with the leaves uncovered, symbolising the goddesses soul, is taken to a water source i.e a river or pond. Life is symbolically transferred from the water to the plant. The plant is brought back in a procession and placed in the Pandal near the Ganesh idol.

On the 10th day, Bijoya dashami, the idols are taken  in elaborate  processions for immersion in the river or the sea.

Legend behind the Origin of Goddess Durga:

Most of the themes of Hindu mythology is the struggle between good and evil and the ultimate triumph of the good. Goddess Durga symbolizing divine energy (Shakthi), was created to slain the demon in the buffalo form; Mahishasura who attacked the Gods and conquered heaven. The Gods led by Brahma went to Shiva and Vishnu and prayed for help. The energies of the trinity of the Hindu Gods condensed to create the Goddess. She went to battle on her ferocious mount lion, armed with the weapons  given to her by the other Gods. In the battle, she fought and killed the evil Mahishasura and restored heaven to the Gods. Since then the goddess is invoked for protection from the powers of evil. Durga Puja is observed in her honour, to celebrate her victory over evil.

In north India, it is characterized by fasts and solemnity, in western India, it is marked by gaiety and the traditional and garba dances, and in the south, pujas are offered separately for three days to each of the three goddesses, Durga, Saraswati and Lakshmi. In some parts of India, the first three of the nine days of Navratri are devoted for worshipping Durga (Goddess of valor), next three days for Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) and the last three days for Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge).

  Durga Puja Photos

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Festivals - West Bengal

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