Durga Puja is one of the biggest religious events of the Hindus. It is usually celebrated over a period of five days with religious fervor and a lot of excitement. Although it is primarily the biggest festival of the Bengali community, yet it involves people from other communities.
Celebrations during Durga Puja
Durga Puja is celebrated with gaiety and devotion almost in every community or locality in India. Huge decorative structures or pandals are created to worship Goddess Durga, Lakshmi, Ganesha, Kartik, and Saraswati.
During Dura Puja celebrations, special rituals are observed on the five days of the festival – Maha Shashti, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Vijaya Dashami. One such ritual is the ‘pran prathishta’ where the holy presence of Goddess Durga is invoked into her idol. Then there is the Kumari Puja where a small girl is worshipped with the belief that the Goddess manifests herself more in an innocent child.
Other rituals during Durga Puja include the offering of food items collectively known as the “bhog” and praying to Goddess Durga through aarti, stuti, and bhajans. An important ritual observed during this festival is making a special prayer to the Goddess with an offering of flowers, which is known as “pushpanjali”.
A special highlight of Durga Puja celebrations is the beating of drums known as “dhaks”. The sound of these drums has a mesmerizing effect on the devotees of Goddess Durga.
During Durga Puja, people gift new clothes to their dear ones. They put on new dresses and visit pandals where pujas are performed by each community. Thousands of people get together to explore the decorations and lighting in each pandal and observe the idol of Goddess Durga.
Various social events are organized during Durga Puja celebrations. These include sit-and-draw competitions for children, music shows, songs, and dance contests. Special prizes are offered to those who win these competitions. The purpose is to forge a friendly relationship among the people in each community/locality on the festive occasion of Durga Puja. This helps eradicate differences existing between the people of various communities.
Some people consider observing a fast during Durga Puja. They believe that fasting will help them establish a harmony between their body and soul. They also feel that by doing so they’ll be able to receive the choicest blessings of Goddess Durga.
The Durga Puja celebrations end up with the immersion of Goddess Durga in rivers, ponds, and seas on Vijaya Dashami or thereafter.