Monday, September 28, 2020

Durga Puja

   Navaratri is celebrated as the Durga Puja festival in West Bengal. It is the most important annual festival to Bengali Hindus and a major social and public event in eastern and northeastern states of India, where it dominates the religious life. The occasion is celebrated with thousands of temporary stages called pandals are built in community squares, roadside shrines and large Durga temples in West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, eastern Nepal, Assam, Tripura and nearby regions. It is also observed by some Shakta Hindus as a private, home-based festival. Durga Puja festival marks the battle of goddess Durga with the shape-shifting, deceptive and powerful buffalo demon Mahishasura, and her emerging victorious



The last five days of Navratri mark the popular practices during Durga Puja. The festival begins with Mahalaya, a day where Shakta Hindus remember the loved ones who have died, as well the advent of the warrior goddess Durga. The next most significant day of Durga Puja celebrations is the sixth day, called Shashthi where the local community welcomes the goddess Durga Devi and festive celebrations are inaugurated. On the seventh day (Saptami), eighth (Ashtami) and ninth (Navami), Durga along with Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya are revered and these days mark the main Puja (worship) with the recitation of the scriptures, the legends of Durga in Devi Mahatmya and social visits by families to elaborately decorated and lighted up temples and pandals (theatre like stages). After the nine nights, on the tenth day called Vijayadashami, a great procession is held where the clay statues are ceremoniously walked to a river or ocean coast for a solemn goodbye to Durga. Many mark their faces with vermilion or dress in something red. It is an emotional day for some devotees, and the congregation sings emotional goodbye songs. After the procession, Hindus distribute sweets and gifts, visit their friends and family members.


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