Durga Puja, is a Hindu Festival, which is celebrated each year on the occasion of Navaratri. This festival is also called as Durgotsava and during this festival, Goddess Durga is worshipped. This festival is observed according to the Hindu calendar called ‘Ashvin’ and falls mostly in the month of September or October. Durga Puja is celebrated for 10 days, with more enthusiasm in the last 4 days and during this time period, many rituals like decorating the pandals where God and Goddess statue are kept. This festival is widely celebrated in West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Odisha, Manipur etc.
Durga Puja, is marked as the celebration of Goddess Durga’s victory, during her battle with a deceptive and a shape shifting demon named ‘Mahishasura’. This festival denotes the victory of Good over Evil. Each year Durga Puja dates coincide with another great festival ‘Dusshera’, which is also celebrated by Hindus, celebrating the occasion of Lord Ram’s Victory over Ravana. In Durga Puja, the primarily Goddess Durga is worshipped and occupies the central position in the stage decoration. In addition to Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswati, Lord Kartikeya and Lord Ganesha also occupies the stage.
The first day of this festival begins with Mahalaya, marking the beginning of the destruction of Evil. Following this, on the sixth day of the festival named as ‘Sasthi’, Goddess Durga is welcomed and celebration begins with the decoration of pandals with God statues. The tenth day of the festival is called ‘Vijaya Dashmi’, during this day devotees celebrate with drum beats, music and chants. On this day, statues kept in the pandals are carried to the river and the ocean, where they are immersed. This ritual denotes a form of bidding Good bye to God and Goddesses.
Each God and Goddesses are worshipped for various reasons, during this festival. Goddess Durga is considered to the Goddess of Strength and she rides a lion, holding ten different weapons in her ten hands. Goddess Lakshmi is considered to be the Goddess of Wealth and occupies the position to the side of Goddess Durga. Goddess Saraswati is considered to be the Goddess of Learning and Knowledge and also occupies the position in front of Goddess Durga. Lord Ganesha, is the Lord of Host and known to be riding the mouse. Lord Kartikeya, is the Lord of Heavenly forces and said to ride peacock.
Durga Puja is celebrated with different customs in different states. Since Hinduism is considered to be the flexible religion and allows people to follow numerous custom according to their tradition. In West Bengal, Durga Puja is held for a period of five days, during this time, many pandals are decorated in each area and the city is adorned with many festive lights. Including this, many musical chants, drums, etc. are also organised in this state. In Maharastra and Goa, this grand festival is celebrated by ‘Prabashi’ Bengalis, by setting up new mandals. In Tripura, Durga Puja is celebrated with pride and glory.
In some places, Durga Puja is celebrated twice a year, following the Hindu calender Ashvin and Chitra months. This festival time is considered to be the happiest time for all the people. Even though, the traditions and formalities change, it is considered one of grand festival, followed by the Hindu people.