Durga Puja Celebrations in Bengal

The blooming of kash. Pic by Amitabha Gupta

Goddess Durga is the symbol of strength. Her victory over Mahisasur is the victory of Good over Evil. As autumn arrives, the fields get covered with the kash flowers and the sky is at its bluest with white fluffy clouds floating by in abandon. Fragrance of flowers like Shiuli, fills the air as nature decks up like a bride. The people of Bengal get ready to welcome Goddess Durga, who comes down from heaven to spend four days at her paternal home – the Earth. For four blessed days she fills the lives of people with happiness and mirth.

The people of Bengal celebrate Durga Puja with great pomp and show. Huge pandals or temporary structures are made for the four days displaying the rich art and culture of the region. Every idol and pandal  is exquisitely  crafted to create awe among the onlookers.

If festivity is in the air, delicacies cannot be far behind. Bengalis, being ardent food lovers will go to any length to treat their palates with the most delicious food possible. As a result, restaurants and food stalls are totally packed during Durga Puja. Numerous fairs are organised across the state. Various types of  stalls and  rides do big business during these four days.

Pure gold Idol weighing 50 Kgs made for four days. The idol was melted after token immersion.

The Puja which begins on Sasthi (sixth day) continues for Saptami, Ashthami, Navomi  and ends on Dashami (tenth day) when the devotees depart from Goddess Durga as she is immersed in rivers.  The idols are made of river clay and get dissolved in water.  People bid adieu to their beloved goddess with the chants ‘ Aschhe bochor aabar hobe’ which means ‘come next year and we shall again celebrate.’ This symbolises the eternal hope for better things that rings eternally in every soul. 

For the story of the creation of Goddess Durga, refer to my post Mahalaya.

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