Image of Maa Durga (seen with Demon Mahishasur, Lakshmi, Saraswati ,kartick & Ganesh ) (Pujo of Ekdalia Evergreen 2007 : Courtesy : Calcuttaweb.com).
Durga Puja is the year’s largest Hindu festival in India in the states of West Bengal, Orissa, Tripura, assam, Jharkhand and other part of Eastern India. In fact this festival has no boundary. It is celebrated in every cities of India, in some form or the other. It is celebrated in all metro cities of India and abroad. In Bangladesh, Hindus celebrate Durga puja.
On the day of Mahalaya, (the day pitri paksha ends and matripaksha starts i.e. seven days before Durga puja) at the crack of dawn all will be waken up to the tune “Jaago Durga” – a song that tunes the mind to the festive spirit. Last 75 years this programme is being broad casted by All India Radio at early dawn (like Ajaan). Nobody can miss this invocation of Mother Goddess Durga by “Jaago Durga”. Its not a piece of music ; it’s part of spirituality and our culture. Many tried to change this invocation programme but all were utter failure. Our culture did not accept anything other than this.
Durga puja has many forms. In northern India it is celebrated as Dussehra and in western India as Navaratri (nine nights) and as Vijayadashami in south India. Durga Puja or Dussera or Vijayadashami is celebrated through out the country in autumn (Sharat) every year. Although it is a Hindu festival, religion takes a backseat on these festive days. Durga Puja in Bengal, particularly in Kolkata takes a shape of a carnival, where people from all walk of life and backgrounds, regardless of their religious beliefs, participate and enjoy themselves throughout the nights. The Durga puja is a festival of Bengal, Bengalis, therefore wherever Bengalis are there Durga Puja will be celebrated there. This is the reason behind the Globalization of Durga Puja and celebration in Europe and America.
In the epic Ramayana, Rama invokes the powerful goddess Durga in his battle against Ravana. Although she was traditionally worshipped in the spring, due to contingencies of battle, Rama had no other go but to invoke her in the autumn. This untimely invocation in autumn is known as “akaal bodhan”. This invocation has become more popular in the society and started to celebrate it every year in a grand manner. The reason may be because of Rama, Rama’s battle with Ravana and winning of the battle which marked as the victory of good forces over the evil forces.
Dussera or Navaratri or Vijayadashami in other parts of India are the celeration of homecoming of Rama with his wife Sita after his victory over Ravana ( the king of Lanka), the victory of the forces of Good over Evil forces. Burning of effigy of Ravana is the part of the celebration in some parts of India.
Durga puja has many angles and accordingly it is celebrated at different parts of India. Durga puja celebrated by Bengalis is having little difference from the others. Durga is the the Goddess of divine power against all evils. The story goes that Mahisasur (the Buffalo Demon), through years of praying, received blessing from Lord Brahma, that no power can kill him which means he is invincible. But once gaining this power he started ravaging the whole world and killing people. And finally he wanted to uproot the Gods too. The Gods, in dismay, combined their powers to create a beautiful maiden, and each placed his or her most potent weapon in one of her ten hands riding a lion. Then there was war between Durga and the Mahishasur (the Buffalo demon) and finally Durga Killed the demon. Rama, as per the epic Ramayana, invoked this powerful Goddess Durga before the battle with Ravana. The invocation of Goddess Durga, by Rama is celebrated every year by Bengalis for five days. It is celebrated to mark the victory of Good forces over the evil. But this Durga puja has some social angle too.
In the modern society, this social angle acts more strongly than any other to celebrate. Durga, daughter of Himalaya, and wife of Lord Shiva and they have four children. The Idol worshipped in the pandals (temporary place of worship) is seen Goddess Durga killing demon Mahishasur and her four children are standing by the side of hers. This coming with her children is seen like our married daughters’ home coming with her family. When the married daughter come to her parental home with her husband and children, parents welcome their daughter with tears of joy and there will be happiness, joy and celebration in the family. The Durga puja too traditionally viewed as home coming of Durga, a married daughter of ours to her home with her children. The Godliness and social cultures, customs have mixed up and have taken a shape, which is beyond explanation but to be felt.
Therefore, it is a matter of our culture to invite daughters and son-in-laws during this festive season and all married daughters wait to join their parents. Parents gift them with new dresses, saree etc etc and since they come in the festive season, try to gift their parents too. All these five days lot of sweet dishes and special dishes will be prepared as per choice of their daughter and son in law. Every body, children, young and aged people wear new dresses on these days. On these days, people move from pandal to pandal to see the art, theme of the idols and pandals throughout night. The whole city, small or big will be glittering with dancing colorful lights, sound of microphones and sound of vehicular traffic and their horn sounds. But vehicles move like snails as people throng to the streets andwalk to enjoy the festive atmosphere. It takes a shape of carnival.
On fifth day when the idols goes out for immersion, all women come to the pandal to bid farewell with sweets, paan, sindoor. It creates an atmosphere like biding farewell to our own daughter when they leave for in-laws house for one long year. Women become emotionally charged with and tears rolls down from their eyes.
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