We all are aware of the much-celebrated Durga Puja in West Bengal. A festival of rejoicing and rejuvenation; also of culture and customs. While the rituals continue for ten days, grandeur, devotion, and passion become an integral part of the celebration of the last four days – Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, and Dashami. Durga Puja is not just a festival; it is an emotion to the Bengali community. However, most of us are unaware of the celebration of Durga Puja during springtime, also known as Basanti Durga Puja.
Spiritually, Basanti is a spring festival and worshipping of the influential goddess, Durga Maa. Above all, the almighty stimulates creation and preservation. During the springtime, when the crops harvest, farmers thank the Goddess for her kindness. West Bengal celebrates it predominantly during the Hindu month of (March and April). Therefore, Basanti Durga puja coincides with the Vasant or Chaitra Navratri celebrations.
Scripture says, originally, the celebration of Durga Puja happened during springtime. However, Basanti Durga Puja’s lost its prominence. It happened because of Lord Rama who did untimely (Akalbodhan) Durga Puja in autumn or Sharad. Subsequently, the suit is followed; therefore, Basanti Puja is relegated in the near oblivion. Moreover, Basanti Puja is an age-old Bengali festival and the Bengali community follows worshipping of Goddess Durga in springtime.
First of all, let us unfold the origin of the festival. Markandeya Purana states that King Surath had lost his kingdom and during his exile, he wandered in the forests. During his period of abandonment, he met Samadhi Vaishya, who also had lost his kingdom. In the jungle, they met Medha Muni, who advised them to perform Basanti Durga Puja, to acquire their lost kingdom. Forthwith, the duo performed the ritual and regained their kingdom.
Similarly, like Sharadiya Durga Puja, Basanti Durga Puja is also about certain rituals. However, the variance is in the use of 'Ghat' or the earthen pot. While performing the rituals in the Sashti Puja (sixth-day worship) of Basanti Durga Puja, these are of no use. Durga Maa awakens during autumn because of the use of the 'Ghat' which is vital, as this is an untimely call.
During this phase, on the eighth day, a little girl is attired like Goddess Durga. Likewise, people worship her in a similar fashion. Furthermore, the custom happens to celebrate and honour womanhood. That is why "Kumari Puja" is its other name. There is rejoice and celebration for five days. After that, the festival ends with the goddess' immersion with a pompous celebration on Dashami (tenth day).
Recorded history states that in the late 1500s, the initial grand worship of Goddess Durga took place. Furthermore, there is a traditional belief that the Dinajpur and Malda district’s landlords had begun this puja in Bengal. Another source of medium says that in c 1606, Raja Kangshanarayan of Taherpur or BhabanandaMazumdar of Nadiya organized the first AutumnDurga Puja in Bengal.
Twelve friends of Guptipara in Hoogly, West Bengal, united and arranged funds from the localities. Probably, they celebrated the first community puja in 1790. This was termed as 'Baro-Yaari' puja or the 'Twelve-Pal' puja. After that, Raja Harinath of Cossimbazar brought this tradition of Baro-Yaari puja to Kolkata and performed the rituals in his ancestral home in Murshidabad. Subsequently, Sanatan Dharmotsahini Sabha did the Sarbajanin or community Puja in Baghbazar with public control, support, participation, and contribution.
Not only India celebrates this ten-armed Goddess over the lion, but Bangladesh too worships her. In conclusion, Community Durga Puja, in the century has helped a lot in the development and growth of Hindu Bengali Culture.