Durga Puja

Durga Puja happens to be one of the biggest festivals for Bengalis. The festival celebrates Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demon, Mahishasura. Though it’s a 10-day festival, the last five days are the most significant ones. Other than Goddess Durga, deities of Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Ganesha, and Karthik are also worshipped.

Importance of Durga Puja

As per Hindu mythology, the festival marks Goddess Durga’s visit to her natal home along with her children. Durga Puja is preceded by Mahalaya, which marks the beginning of Durga’s journey to her home. The actual puja starts from “Maha Sashthi” or the sixth day where devotees welcome the Goddess with pomp and gusto. On this day, Durga’s deity is unveiled in front of the public. Several rituals are performed while the “dhakis” keep the mood and spirit of the puja alive by playing the “dhak”—a kind of drum that’s associated with the puja and Bengali culture.

How the celebrations of Durga Puja take place?

  • Setting up of ‘pandals’: A ‘Pandal’ is a place where the idol of Goddess Durga is kept. All the rituals and prayers take place inside the pandal. Magnificent pandals are set up before the puja begins. Architecture of the world’s most famous buildings is replicated. New designs are also laid out.
  • Street food stalls: Alongside pandals, many food stalls are set up which sell a variety of street foods ranging from golgappas to bajjis and samosas.
  • Shopping: As per tradition, in some of the states such as West Bengal, people wear new dresses every day.

Different Indian States where Durga Puja celebration takes place 

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar: Durga puja celebrations in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is very similar as locals of both the states organize the feeding of little girls on the last day of the festival. The scripture ‘Durga Saptashati’ is also recited in temples.

West Bengal and Assam: In Assam and West Bengal, grand pandals are set up all over with varying themes. On the last day of the festival, the idol is immersed in the holy river of Ganges.

Gujarat: In Gujarat, the festival of Durga puja is celebrated as Navratri with the famous dance ‘garba’ being performed by locals in events organized at night.

Tamil Nadu: During the festival of Tamil Nadu, the locals worship the goddesses Durga, Saraswathi, and Lakshmi. In a tradition which is unique to the state of Tamil Nadu, young local girls display wooden dolls. The ritual is known as Golu.

Punjab: During the 9 days of celebration of the Durga puja festival, ‘Jaagrans’ are held every night. On the eve of Ashtami, young girls from the age of 5 to 10 are given food, gifts, and money.

Andhra Pradesh: On the eve of the festival in Andhra Pradesh, as per the ritual, the married women worship Goddess Gauri and the unmarried pray for the spouse of their choice. The Durga puja in Andhra Pradesh is known as Bathukamma Panduga. For worship purposes, the women create flower stacks which are immersed later in the river.

Chhattisgarh: The locals of Chhattisgarh celebrate the festival for a period of 75 days. Baster, a town in Chhattisgarh, is known to have celebrated the festival for over 500 years.

Karnataka: The festival of Durga puja is known as Dussehra in Karnataka. Mysore is famous for its celebrations of the festival.

Maharashtra:  Here people play Garba on the eve of the festival. Completing business deals and buying property is considered lucky at the time of the festival of Durga puja.

Himachal Pradesh: The locals of Himachal Pradesh start the celebrations of the festival when it is about to end in the rest of the country. Dhalpur Maidan, situated in Kullu Valley, is famous for its celebrations.