Across India and now in various parts of the world Goddess Durga also called Durga Ma (Mother) is worshiped with much fanfare and joy as it brings happiness to everyone. The name itself brings happiness and thrill in every Bengalis heart right from the birth. Initially a Bengali festival now it is celebrated by all.
This festival is held during autumn every year. Many celebrate this festival for nine days (hence called Navaratri)while Bengalis install Goddess on fifth day and on tenth day the idol is immersed into holy water after worship. This festival not only signifies the victory of good over evil, but also shows Goddess as the main source of power behind all the life’s form and creation.
The story as per Markandeya Puran (one of the many Hindu Religious text) is that, demon king Mahishasura becomeimmortal through intense prayer to Lord Brahma. He got the boon that neither God nor any man can defeat or kill him, so he started terrorising all. Unable to defeat him, Gods went to Lord Brahma.Since he cannot do anything, together they went to Lord Vishnu where Lord Shiva was also present. After listening what the demon king is doing, Lord’s Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and all other Gods started releasing energy from their bodies to form a new entity and thus Goddess Durga came into being.
All the Gods then gave her some of their special powers making Goddess Durga the most powerful Deity in the world, taking the form of a beautiful woman with ten hands to hold various weapons, she was battle ready. And after pitch battle with the demon armies for nine days, finally on the tenth day Goddess Durga managed to slay the buffalo demon Mahishasura. During the battle her carrier was a lion.
This was not the last time she fought a battle, whenever demons were seems to be winning against God she was called upon to fight for the Gods. Goddess Durga is known by many different names such as Kali, Parvati, Gowri, Sati, Mahamaya and Mahishasura Mardini.
Durga Pooja Festival celebration happens all over the place more or less in the same manner, only number of days varies and language changes. In Maharashtra celebration happens for nine days and so named Navaratri;nine days of togetherness, love, reunion and exchange of thoughts. Same happens for Bengali people however for five days starting from the fifth day. On tenth day immersion of the idol took place.
During the festival it is considered that Mother Goddess Durga is visiting her parent’s house with her four children name Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of knowledge), Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity), Lord Ganesh (God of success, remover of obstacle) and Lord Kartik (God of war). As per Bengali custom a daughter is givenextreme care when she visits her parent’s house and a grand celebration takes place.
Keeping that in mind people from various walks of life come together to form a community where Goddess Durga is worshiped with love and proper procedure and various functions took place, including cultural programs by small and old together, to enjoy the moment. No restrictions are placed on any type food so as to enjoy without limit. The decoration of house, sweets, wearing new clothes and visiting each other’s places are very common during this occasion.
Each day Bhog Prasad (Foods which are first offered to Goddess) is distributed to devotees. Ideally one food ‘Khichdi’ is prepared mixing rice &split mung beans (pulses) and another usually is made mixing various types of seasonal vegetables.
On the tenth day of the Durga Festival, as per rituals, all married women comes together and put sindoor (Red Powder or Kumkum – a symbol of marriage) on Goddess Durga, and also apply on each other, a fun filled play.
After final ceremony Goddess Durga is taken for immersion in river or pond. This signifies that after staying with her parent’s, she is now leaving them and going back to heaven to meet her husband Lord Shiva.
This festival is very famous worldwide for the theme based decoration of stages called ‘Pandals’. Various materials are used to build and decorate the stage and the lighting effect which is placed to make it even more beautiful; one can easily view the artistic creativity reflecting through it.
Once this festival is over, each and every person associated with it in some way or the other, remain sad for few days. This in itself is a proof of the intensity with which this festival is celebrated and to which scale.
An auspicious time for many people, each and every one eagerly wait for the next year to come, so that all can once again welcome Goddess Durga or ‘Ma’ (Mother) with folded hands,expecting once again from her prosperity and happiness for everyone.