In West Bengal, people worship Goddess Durga and celebrate this day as Durga Puja. It is the famous festival of Hindus also known as Durgotsava.
People from all over India celebrate this day by singing, dancing exchanging sweets by expressing their good wishes. It is a five day long festival which includes Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami. Some people celebrated this festival for seven days. Every day has its own importance according to the Hindu religion and tradition. Victory of good over evil is the main slogan of this eve. Durga Puja falls mostly in the month of September-October.
Different communities organize this Puja in big pandals which includes masti, dance, competiotions and various Bengali food items like payasam, roshogulla, mix vegetables, chutney, etc.
History behind Durga Puja
Goddess Durga is symbolised as female Shakti on the earth. According to the previous history, a buffalo demon, Mahishasura created hell at the gates of heaven. All the Gods were compelled by the Demon to grant extra powers in return of their long time meditation. All the Gods when they had no option left behind requested Goddess Lakshmi to came and relief them from this Demon.
Goddess Lakshmi became angry and came into the avatar of Durga also known as Goddess of war with eighteen-armed holding weapons in every hand. Then only Goddess Lakshmi came with the joint energy of Shakti to the battle field and was sitting on a tiger. She killed the evil and handover heaven in the hands of Gods. Thus Durga Puja is celebrated in the honour and victory over the bad evil.
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Five to seven day long festival
Durga puja is celebrated for about five to seven days depending upon the tradition and rituals. These days are termed as Mahalaya, Shashti, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navmi and Vijayadashami.
Mahalaya: This day is celebrated with Mantras as it is the day to invite Goddess Durga on the earth in order to remove all the evils. Mahalaya comes on the day of amavasya i.e. dark new moon night. It is the most important day according to the Hindu religion as Mahalaya is also termed as Pitru Paksha. On this day, Hindus pay homage to their pre ancestors and they don’t start any new work on this day.
Shashti: Shashti falls on the sixth day of the moon. On this day Goddess Durga is welcomd with gusto and fanfare.
Maha Saptami: Maha Saptami is termed as the first day of Durga Puja. From this day all the rituals get started with the bathing of “Kola Bow”.
Maha Ashtami: Maha Ashtami is the most important day as this day is celebrated as the victory day of Goddess Durga over Demon Mahishasura. People worship with flowers, do prayers and recite mantras on this day. In the old days, rituals of animal sacrifices are placed and worshipped. But today, chalkumro (a type of pumpkin), cucumber and banana is used in place of animals.
Maha Navmi: Maha Navmi is the last day of Durga Puja also known as Sandhi Puja. On this day, Goddess Durga is offered with a variety of food. Once the puja gets finished, food is distributed among the devotees in the form of Prasad.
Vijaya dashami: On the day of Vijayadashami, the images of Goddess Durga made of clay are carried and a long procession starts from the locality to the nearby river where these images of God are immersed in the water. It is the last day of Puja.
Traditional wearing on the occasion of Durga Puja
On every festival, people prefer to wear new designer clothes. On the eve of Durga Puja, people wear traditional clothes of red and white colour.
According to the tradition, Bengali women wear cotton saree with a combination of red and white colour. These red and white cotton sarees are known as Bengal Tant sarees. Now these sarees come in different varieties like Benarasi saree, Kanjeevaram silk saree, pure silk, Poochampally saree, etc. These sarees come in the shade of white colour with red or maroon border designed by various designers especially for Durga celebration.
Men wear dhoti kurta that gives them traditional look for Durga Puja. In the past, people prefer cotton or silk dhoti in white shade matched with a cream Tussar silk kurta with little bit embroidery on it. Today dhoti kurta comes in different designs especially designed by the famous designer for the celebration of Durga Puja. The set of dhoti kurta comes with matching stole with the combination of red and white colour with heavy embroidery. This gives new and traditional look to the clothes.