Durga Puja 2018: Devotees throng pandals, festive fervour grips nation
Durga Puja, a grand festival that revers Goddess Durga, is celebrated with great pomp and fervour across India. Hugely popular in states such as West Bengal (particularly in Kolkata), Bihar, Odisha, Assam and Bangladesh, this festival signifies the victory of good over evil. The festival is usually celebrated during Dussehra (or Vijaya Dasami) or Navaratri.
Goddess Durga alongside her husband Lord Shiva are the primary deities revered during this festival. Prayers are also offered to other deities such as Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) and Saraswati (goddess of knowledge) .
Italian Consul-general Damiano Francovigh termed Durga Puja as a "mix of cultural elements".
This ten-day festival usually falls in the month of either September or October every year. The festival begins with Mahalaya, the day when the people pay tribute to their forefathers.
Devotees walk around the pandal
The sixth day called Shashti is the most important day of Durga Puja celebrations. On this day the goddess, who according to beliefs enters cities/homes, receives a grand entrance and welcomed by people.
Other goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped during the seventh day (Saptami), eighth (Ashtami) and ninth day (Navami). Since Durga Puja falls during Vijaya Dasami, it not only worships goddess Durga but also lord Rama and it is known as a day when Rama killed the demon king Ravana. After all, Vijaya Dasami marks the end of Durga Puja remembering Durga vanquishing the demon Mahishasur.
Effigy of Ravana
Whether it is Durga puja or Vijayadasami, Kolkata and Mysore are the cities which emphasize a lot on these festivals every year. In fact the name of Mysore is derived from the demon Mahishasur. The whole city gets immersed into this colourful joy of festive revelry as the city becomes lively due to the extravaganza attached to the festival with the decorations of festive lights, songs blaring from loudspeakers along with the religious hymns from the priests. Pandals are constructed across the city and people throng these pandals drenching the city in festive fervour.
People carrying the idols of Durga
The idols are mostly made out of clays from different parts of regions because it is believed that using clay is a tradition followed religiously as Durga as a creative energy is present everywhere in the universe. The base of the clay is made from bamboo and limbs of statues are made out of bundle of straws.
The common belief of celebrating Durga puja is all about inviting the goddess back to earth and believe that she will protect people and their families during the difficult times.