“Ya devi sarva bhuteshu, shanti rupena sangsthita
Ya devi sarva bhuteshu, shakti rupena sangsthita
Ya devi sarva bhuteshu, matri rupena sangsthita
Yaa devi sarva bhuteshu, buddhi rupena sangsthita
Namastasyai, namastasyai, namastasyai, namo namaha”
Translation : The goddess who is omnipresent as the personification of universal mother The goddess who is omnipresent as the embodiment of power The goddess who is omnipresent as the symbol of peace I bow to her, I bow to her, I bow to her again & again.
India is a country of diverse cultures and heritage. Hundreds of festivals are celebrated across India by the different religion, communities based on language, caste, social group, and status.
Well everyone is well versed with the festival of India, but do we still follow the principles we learn from celebrating all these festivals?
So today I will focus on a festival which a has a deep meaning in our society and celebrates feminism.
Durga Puja is a major Hindu festival celebrated widely by the Bengali, Odiya, Bihari, and the Eastern and Northeastern Diaspora.
Durga Puja is celebrated to commemorate the slaying of the demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga hence she gets the name Mahishasuramardini or the slayer of Mahishasura.
According to the Devi Purana, The demigods were furious of the increasing power of the asuras led by Mahishasura. So they asked the help of the Tridev (the trinity of Hinduism) for help. They were helpless and asked the help of Shakti- Goddess Durga. She is believed to be the fiercest avatar of Shakti. She is clad in a Sari with 10 hands holding powerful weapons given by the demigods. Her face is lit with aggression and at the same time peace and tranquility. She sits on a lion as a vehicle and is seen slaying Mahishasura in the form of buffalo with a Trishul.
Did anyone know that in the 16th Century, a group of friends who belonged to rich families began to celebrate Durga Puja to bind the society will one day become a major and historical of India?
Durga is believed to come from the heavens (Her in-laws) to Earth (Her Father’s place) with her children – Ganesha, Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Karthikeya. She bestows upon Earth with Happiness and leaves by taking all Sorrow and evil.
HOLY DAYS AND RITUALS
Durga Puja begins in Mahalaya Amavasya when people wake up early in the morning to listen to the religious hymns of Durga. This day commemorates the starting of the war between Mahishasura and Durga. On this day the third eye is painted on the Durga idols so that the Goddess Durga comes alive on this day and Durga Puja is mainly celebrated for 5 days.
It starts on the Sixth day of Ashwin Shukla Paksha and ends on the tenth day of Shukla Paksha.
‘Bodhon, Agomoni, Adhivas’ – These days commemorate beginning of Durga Puja. These normally either takes place during Panchami or Sashti. This day kick starts Durga Puja with joy and celebration. This day starts with welcoming the goddesses and special jewelry are worn to the goddess.
Saptami – This day is the seventh day, the first pushpanjali is given on this day.
Ashtami– One of the most auspicious and important days of Durga Puja. This is the eighth day in which signifies one of the main days of Devi in the war.
Sandhi Puja– It is a 48-minute timeframe (24 minutes of Ashtami and 24 minutes of Nabami). This one of the most important time where two Rakshasas Chanda and Munda tried to strike at Durga From behind. Devi Durga took a violent form of Chamundi and slayed Chanda and Munda. She later went to a pond to bath after Shiva’s recommendation, where after taking bath 107 lotuses appeared and the last lotus appeared from the tears of Shiva. Durga took and she holds a lotus in one of the hands. That’s why in this Puja 108 lotuses are offered.
Nabami – On this day a special yajna is performed. Dhunuchi Naach is performed in the evening. This day commemorates the last day of the war.
Dashami– The last and Final day, which commemorates the victory and hence known as ‘Vijaya Dashami’. This day married women apply Goddess Durga with Sindoor (Vermillion) and all the ladies smear each other with Sindoor as a token of love and affection.
On this day the idols of Durga are submerged in the Ganges or lakes or ponds. This marks the end of Durga Puja.
FESTIVITIES AND CONFLUENCES OF ALL 5 SENSES
Durga Puja is widely celebrated in Kolkata which is world famous. Each year, different organizations and bodies set up Pandals which depict a traditional or modern theme. Some of them raise social awareness while some are in touch with tradition.
The Idols of Goddess are prepared and made in Kumartuli (Potters town). Handcrafted with the soil of Ganges and approximate measurement, the artworks of the potters are truly stunning. These idols are shipped into different Pandals and even exported to other cities and countries!
The sound of Dhaki (Bengali Drum) and Blowing of Shonkho (Conch Shell); the allegory of Goddess Durga; the taste of the Bhog (Community meal); the smell of Incense; the dance of Dhunuchi (Fire dance) and Ladies clad in Red and white Saris and Men in Golden Kurta Dhoti – These Scenes are truly magnificent and a confluence of all five senses.
IMPACT ON OUR SOCIETY
Though Durga Puja is a major and most important festival of Bengal as well as India, Durga Puja teaches a lot of value to our society.
Durga Puja involves high capital which isn’t possible by one person. Durga Puja is a “Sarbojonin” Puja which refers that it is a community and society festival, where irrespective of caste, religion, social and economic status participate and involve which binds in the whole society as one.
If Durga could slay Mahishasura being a woman, then thousand so f women and girls are stopped and suppressed from doing what they want.
In this Patriarchal society, Where the Matriarch is celebrated but still it is dominated with the ideas of men.
Durga Puja is not just a festival but a celebration of the society which makes everyone equal, a day where feminism is celebrated and injustice and evil are removed.
Author Bio : Rutajit Sarkar, 15 yrs old student from Bengaluru. A participant for International Essay Competition,October.