The Durga Puja, is the most popular and elaborate annual religious festival celebrated in India. It is widely celebrated in the Indian states of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Tripura and West Bengal. Durga Puja is a celebration of the Mother Goddess, and the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Thus, Durga Puja festival can be summarized as the victory of Good over Evil.
The festival of Durga Puja is celebrated for ten days including the last day when the idol of the Goddess is immersed in a sacred water body. Devotees of Durga undergo a nine -day fast. Family members are encouraged to return to their ancestral homes. On the last day of the festival idols of goddess Durga are carried through the streets and taken to the river where they are ceremoniously immersed into the river. After the completion of the puja, married daughter must return to their husband's house, evoking the myth of goddess Parvati returning to Mount Kailash to reunite with Lord Shiva.
Regional Names of Durga Puja:
Durga Puja is celebrated by different regional names throughout India. The name may be a local one or it can be an indication of a particular ritual associated with the pooja. 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. Some of the distinct regional names of the festival are :
- Durga Puja / Durga Pujo
- Navratri Puja
- Kullu Dussehra
- Mysore Dussehra
- Bommai Kolu
- Ayudha Puja
- Saraswati Puja
Celebrations of Durga Puja:
In eastern India, especially in Bengal, the Durga Puja is the principal festival during Navratri. It is celebrated with gaiety and devotion through public ceremonies of “Sarbojanin Puja” or community worship. Huge decorative temporary structures called “pandals” are constructed to house these grand prayer services, followed by mass feeding, and cultural functions. The Durga Puja festival is an extremely social and theatrical event. Drama, dance, and cultural performances are widely held. Food is a huge part of the festival. The earthen icons of Goddess Durga, accompanied by those of , Saraswati,Ganesha and Kartikya, are taken out on the tenth day in a triumphal procession to the nearby river, where they are ceremonially immersed.
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.