Durga Puja is one of the most important festivals of the Hindus.
The festival is also known as “Durgotsava” and is celebrated to worship Goddess Durga. It is a five-day festival and is celebrated during Sharad Navratri’s period in September or October.
The Durga Puja days are observed as Shashti, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Vijayadashami. So, the Durga Puja starts on the fifth day of Navratri (Sharad Navratri) and continues for five days, culminating on the Dashmi Tithi or Vijayadashami in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin.
Durga Puja – Where is it celebrated?
The Durga Puja festival celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil demon Mahishasura. The festival is particularly famous in the Indian state of West Bengal, where the festival takes the form of Bengali Durga Puja. Bengalis worship Goddess Durga as Durgotinashini, which means that Goddess Durga is the destroyer of evil. Furthermore, it is believed that Goddess Durga blesses her devotees with health, prosperity, and happiness.
Apart from West Bengal, Durga Puja is also celebrated in India, including Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Tripura, Meghalaya, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Durga Puja is also a major festival in Nepal.
Many cultural organizations arrange Durga Puja ceremonies in countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, the United States, and Singapore.
The Durga Puja Celebrations
Goddess Durga, Lord Shiva, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Goddess Lakshmi, and Goddess Saraswati are also worshiped in Durga Puja. Likewise, worship of Mother Nature is also done.
Durga Puja celebrations are particularly characterized by decorated pandals known as Durga Puja Pandal, in which artistically sculptured Idols (“Murtis”) of Goddess Durga are shown killing the demon Mahishasura.
The Durga Puja festivities are marked by singing, dancing, sweets, and gaiety. People send gifts to their dear ones and express good wishes. It happens to be a colorful and joyous celebration. It is the most awaited and biggest festival of the Bengali community.
The Durga Puja celebrations are held on a grand scale. Magnificent and artistic Durga Puja Pandals are the hallmark of Durga Puja Festivities. We get to see the magnificent idols of Goddess Durga.
People dance to the beats of drums. Devotional songs and Aarti are sung in honor of Goddess Durga. Colorful fireworks and delicious foods also form an integral part of this joyous celebration.
On the last day of the Durga Puja Festival on the Dashami Tithi (Vijayadashami), the idols of Goddess Durga are immersed in a water body. Great celebrations and processions mark the whole ritual. People sing and dance during the processions.
The Durga Puja Legend
According to Hindu Mythology, there was a buffalo Demon Mahishasura. After years of praying to Lord Brahma, he was granted the boon that made him invincible. Any man or God could not kill him. After gaining power, Mahishasura started to destroy the world. He began to kill people and became a threat to the Gods.
To destroy Mahishasura, Goddess Durga emerged from all Gods’ collective energies as a divine feminine power. The victory of Goddess Durga over the evil demon Mahishasura is celebrated during Durga Puja.
According to another legend, Lord Rama invoked Goddess Durga to save his wife Sita from the evil King Ravana. Goddess Durga appeared before Lord Rama and blessed him that he would be able to defeat Ravana. As Lord Rama invoked Goddess Durga during autumn, the Durga Puja is also known as “Akalbodhon.”
According to another popular legend, it is said that Goddess Durga visits her mother’s place during the period of Puja.
Some Interesting Facts Regarding Durga Puja
The Idols of Goddess Durga: The idols of Goddess Durga are an important part of this grand celebration. Goddess Durga can be seen stabbing the torso of Mahishasura while riding the lion. The idols of Ganesha, Kartikeya, Saraswati, and Lakshmi can also be seen standing beside Goddess Durga. The whole frame is called “Chala.”
Offering the Eye: The ritual of offering the eye to Goddess Durga Idol is known as Chokkhudaan. Usually, it takes three to four months to make a Durga Idol or Chala. Then, at last, the eyes of Goddess Durga are painted. It is performed as a ritual in complete darkness in the presence of only one sculpture and nobody else.
Ashtami Pushpanjali is a sacred ritual in which people offer flowers to Goddess Durga on Ashtami Tithi’s morning.
Kumari Puja: Girls aged between one and six years are worshiped before the Durga Idol. The ritual is observed on the Ashtami Tithi during the Durga Puja Festival.
Sandhya Aarti: The evening offering is a regular custom during the Durga Puja. People dance to the tune of bells and drums. Religious songs and devotional hymns are chanted.
Sindur Khela: The “Sindur Khela” ritual is performed on the Dashami tithi of Durga Puja, which also marks Goddess Durga’s farewell. Married women gather at the Durga Puja Pandals color each other with Sindur (vermillion). It is much like playing with colors in Holi.
Vijay Dashmi: Vijay Dashmi is the last day of the Durga Puja Festival. On this day, the idols of Goddess Durga are immersed in a water body. The ritual is marked by joyous celebrations where people gather to bid farewell to Goddess Durga. In addition, people dance, sing, smear colors, and distribute sweets to each other.
Durga Puja Dates 2023
Durga Puja is a five-day-long festival. The Durga puja days are observed as Shashti, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Vijaya Dashami. According to Hindu religious texts, she arrives on Earth on the first day of Devi Paksha and departs on Durga Visarjan day.
Durga Puja Dates 2023 are:
- Day 1 – Shashthi: Bilva Nimantran, Kalparambha Akal Bodhon – 20th October 2023, Friday
- Day 2 – Saptami: Durga Saptami, Kolabou Puja – 21st October 2023, Saturday
- Day 3 – Ashtami: Durga Ashtami, Sandhi Puja – 22nd October 2023, Sunday
- Day 4 – Nabami: Maha Navami, Navami Homa, Durga Balidan – 23rd October 2023, Monday
- Day 5 – Dashami: Durga Visarjan, Sindoor Utsav, Vijayadashami – 24th October 2023, Tuesday
So, we see that Durga Puja is an important Hindu Festival. The festival celebrates the power and glory of womanhood. It is a festival when we remember and honor Mother Goddess Durga.