Durga Puja Festival-India

• Durga puja which is also known as Durgotsava and Navaratri, is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the worship of the Hindu goddess Durga.

• Durga is a Hindu goddess who is the form of Shakti.

• This festival is considered very auspicious since it also celebrates the victory of good over evil. It was on this day that Durga is said to have killed the demon Mahishasura.

• Durga Puja is celebrated elaborately by Hindus in the eastern and north-eastern states of India. In West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Tripura Durga puja is a five-day-long festival.

• According to mythology, it is said that demon king Mahishasura after years of worship got a boon from Brahma. The boon was that no man-human or a deity will be able to kill him. After this boon, Mahishasura killed thousands of innocent people. He soon started attacking Gods as well. To put an end to this Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva combined all their power and energies to give birth to Durga. Durga with her ten hands killed Mahishasura. The day she vanquished this demon is known as Mahishasura Mardini.

• The Durga puja usually falls between September and November. The festival begins with Mahalaya, which marks the beginning of Devi-Paksha and the end of the Pitri-Paksha. Mahalaya is observed seven days before the Durga Puja. Mahasasthi, the sixth day from the new moon, marks the beginning of the Durga Puja.

• The five days of Durga puja are observed as Mahashashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Bijoya Dashami respectively.

• The puja features elaborate stage decorations known as pandals, scripture recitation, performance arts, revelry, and processions. In the evening pandals get crowded with devotees during the festival. On the evening of the Mahasasthi, the face of the deity is unveiled. This ritual is known as Devi Bodhon. Ritual puja continues till Bijoya Dashami. On the puja stage (pandals) along with Durga, other major deities of Hinduism such as goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya are also worshiped. In some of the places, animals are sacrificed to mark the slaying of demons and the victory of Durga.

• The last day of the puja is known as Vijaya Dashami when the five-day-long puja ends. On this day, women mark their faces with sindoor and dress in red sarees. All the idols are immersed in nearby rivers.