Durga Pooja is one of the most important festivals in India. It is a celebration of Goddess Durga’s victory over the evil demon Mahishasura. It refers to all the six days observed as Mahalaya, Shasthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami. More than just a festival Durga Puja is a celebration of life, culture, popular customs and traditions. It is a time of reunion and rejuvenation to love, to share and to care.
Story behind Durga Pooja:
This festival involves the worship of Shakti i.e Goddess Durga. The legend Shakti lays back to the story of Mahisasur, a powerful demon also known as the Buffalo Demon, Through years of intense praying and worship, he got boon from Lord Brahma that no power could harm him making him invincible. But once the divine powers were bestowed upon him, he started ravaging the whole world and killing people and eventually 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. Durga killed Mahisasur and won the heaven back for the Gods.
Durga Pooja celebration time:
It is celebrated in the month of September/October every year. In 2012, Durga Puja runs from October 20-24. The dates of the festival are determined by Hindu calendar.
Durga Pooja celebration places:
Durga Pooja is celebrated all over India with different rituals and festivities especially in the eastern region covering the states of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Tripura. In West Bengal and Tripura, where majority of Bengali Hindus live it is the biggest festival of the year. Apart from eastern India, Durga Puja is also celebrated in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh,Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir,Karnataka and Kerala.
How is Durga Puja Celebrated
In the northern part of the country, the first nine days of this festival, called Navaratri, is commonly observed as a time for rigorous fast, followed by celebrations on the tenth day. In western India, throughout the nine days, both men and women participate in a special kind of dance around an object of worship. In the south, Dusshera or the tenth day is celebrated with a lot of fanfare. In the east, people go crazy over Durga Puja, from the seventh till the tenth day of this annual festival. Statutes of Goddess Durga are installed by the people in their home and beautifully decorated podiums. Which are immersed in the water after the festival.
Although, the universal nature of the festival is often found to transcend regional influences and local culture, the Garba Dance of Gujarat, Ramlila of Varanasi, Dusshera of Mysore, and Durga Puja of Bengal need special mention.
Durga Pooja Rituals
Rituals, part of all religious festivities are vital for celebrations. Goddess Durga is worshipped following the rituals in our sashtras Written in Sanskrit, they guide the priests to perform puja with the right mantras and the required accessories.
Dussehra is the tenth and final day of Durga Puja in India which is also known as Vijayadashami. It commemorates the victory of lord Ramaover the evil king Ravana. For his victory Rama worshiped Goddess Durga. The Durga Pooja performed by Rama is known as ‘Akalbodhon’. Rama performed this to rescue his wife Sita from the clutches of Ravana. Dussehra is the day when Lord Rama is able to kill Ravana. With his victory crown Lord Rama,Laxmanand Sita return to their kingdom Ayodhya. To be welcome their beloved king after 14 years of exile, the people of Ayodhya light lamps and celebrate Diwali.