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Durga Puja festival

Highlights

  • The actual worship of the Goddess Durga as stipulated by the Hindu scriptures falls in the month of Chaitra,
  • Durga Puja also includes the worship of Shiva,

(IIP) - Durga Puja festival is celebrated from the sixth to tenth day of bright lunar fortnight (shukla paksha).
Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura . Thus, Durga Puja festival epitomises the victory of Good over Evil. In Bengal, Durga is worshipped as Durgotinashini, the destroyer of evil and the protector of her devotees.
Durga Puja is widely celebrated in the Indian states of Assam, Mithila (ancient) region of Nepal and Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur, Odisha, Tripura, Meghalaya and West Bengal, where it is a five-day annual holiday.In both West Bengal and Tripura, which have a majority of Bengali Hindus, it is the biggest festival of the year. In Assam due to presence of huge number of Bengali Hindus and quite a large number of Assamese Hindus of Shakta sect of Hinduism (Assam is predominantly Vaishnavite Hindu populous state), it is one of the biggest religious festivals, as the biggest festival is Bihu which is secular in nature. Not only is it the biggest Hindu festival celebrated throughout the state, it is also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali Hindu society. Apart from eastern India, Durga Puja is also celebrated in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala. Durga Puja is also celebrated as a major festival in Nepal where 82% population is Hindu, and in Bangladesh where 10% population is Hindu. Nowadays, many diaspora Assamese and Bengali cultural organisations arrange for Durgotsab in countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Singapore, Bahrain and Kuwait, among others. In 2006, a grand Durga Puja ceremony was held in the Great Court of the British Museum.

The prominence of Durga Puja increased gradually during the British Raj in Bengal and erstwhile Assam.After the Hindu reformists identified Durga with India, she became an icon for the Indian independence movement. In the first quarter of the 20th century, the tradition of Baroyari or Community Puja was popularised due to this. After independence, Durga Puja became one of the largest celebrated festivals in the whole world. It is also the largest "open Air Art Exhibition in the World".

Durga Puja also includes the worship of Shiva, who is Durga's consort (Durga is an aspect of Goddess Parvati), in addition to Lakshmi, Saraswati with Ganesha and Kartikeya, who are considered to be Durga's children.Worship of mother nature is done, through nine types of plant (called "Kala Bou"), including a plantain (banana) tree, which represent nine divine forms of Goddess Durga.Modern traditions have come to include the display of decorated pandals and artistically depicted sculptures (murti) of Durga, exchange of Vijaya greetings and publication of Puja Annuals.
The actual worship of the Goddess Durga as stipulated by the Hindu scriptures falls in the month of Chaitra, which roughly overlaps with March or April and is called Basanti Durga Puja. This ceremony is not observed by many and is restricted to a handful in the state of West Bengal, Assam, Tripura. The more popular form, which is also known as Sharadiya (Autumnal) Durga Puja, is celebrated later in the year with the dates falling either in September or October.Since the Goddess is invoked at the wrong time, it is called "Akaal Bodhon" in Bengali.
One of the earliest evidence of the autumnal celebration can be found in the Tripura Buranji, where it is described that the envoy of the Twipra Kingdom, Rameshwar Nyayalankar, was invited to witness the Durga puja at Rangpur, the capital of the Ahom kingdom, in 1711.
Public announcement by Shobhabazar Rajbari on the origins of Durga Puja.
While the most recent revival of the Autumnal worship of Goddess Durga can be traced to revivalist tendencies in the early freedom movement in Bengal, differences remain in the historical reason behind the revival. One school of thought is of the opinion that the first such Puja was organised by Raja Nabakrishna Deb of the Shobhabazar Rajbari of Calcutta in honour of Lord Clive in the year 1757. The puja was organised because Clive wished to pay thanks for his victory in the Battle of Plassey. He was unable to do so in a Church because the only church in Calcutta at that time was destroyed by Siraj-ud-Daulah. Indeed, many wealthy mercantile and Zamindar families in Bengal made British officers of the East India Company guests of honour in the Pujas. The hosts vied with one another in arranging the most sumptuous fares, decorations and entertainment for their guests. This was deemed necessary since the company was in charge of a large part of India including Bengal after the battles of Plassey and Buxar.However, this particular claim has been refuted by the Sovabazar Rajbari. In a public announcement during the Durga Puja of 2011, notice boards were placed at the entrance of the puja, clarifying the Rajbari's official position.
Durga Idol of the famous Adi Naktala Puja in Kolkata
There is also a mythological belief that Lord Ram, who was a Durga worshiper, worshiped Goddess Durga before going to war with Ravana. Rama had performed "Chandi Homa" and invoked the blessings of Durga, who blessed Rama with secret knowledge of the way to kill Ravana. On the day of Ashvin Shukla Dashami, Rama's party found Sita and defeated Ravana. This day is thus also celebrated as Dussehra.
Today's Puja, however, goes far beyond religion. Visiting the pandals recent years, one can only say that Durgapuja is the largest outdoor art festival on earth. The music, dancing, and art displayed and performed during the Durga puja played an integral part in connecting the community in Bengal, and eventually across India and the world. In the 1990s, a preponderance of architectural models came up on the pandal exteriors, but today the art motif extends to elaborate interiors, executed by trained artists, with consistent stylistic elements, carefully executed and bearing the name of the artist.

The sculpture of the sculpture itself has evolved. The worship always depicts Durga with her four children, and occasionally two attendant deities and some banana-tree figures. In the olden days, all five sculptures would be depicted in a single frame, traditionally called pata. Since the 1980s however, the trend is to depict each sculpture separately.

From the medieval period up through present day, the Durga puja celebrates the goddess and brings the Hindu community together by integrating modernised aspects of entertainment and technology, while still maintaining the religious worship

Om Jayanti, Mangala, Kali, Bhadrakali, Kapalini. Durga, Shiba, Kshama, Dhatri, Swaha, Swadha Namahstu Te.

Esha Sachandana Gandha Pushpa Bilwa Patranjali, Om Hrring Durgaoi Namah

Durga Slokas (which is also known as Devi Mantra)praises Durga as symbol of all divine forces. According to the sloka, Durga is omnipresent as the embodiment of power, intelligence, peace, wealth, morality etc. A part of Durga Sloka is as follows;

Ya Devi sarva bhuteshu Matri rupena samsthita
Ya Devi sarva bhuteshu Shakti rupena samsthita
Ya Devi sarva bhutesu Shanti rupena samsthita
Namestasyai Namestasyai Namestasyai Namoh Namah

Translation:

The goddess who is omnipresent as the personification of universal mother
The goddess who is omnipresent as the embodiment of power
The goddess who is omnipresent as the symbol of peace
I bow to her, I bow to her, I bow to her

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