As vibrant hues spread across faces. As a result of vermilion, painting the sky red; seems the celebration of Durga Puja is a sight to behold. Subsequently, amidst the smoke released by the dhunuchi while performing the dhunuchi folk dance, the eyes of Durga still looked divine and powerful. Above all, the enormous deity stood there magnificently. Meanwhile, she stands tall with her ten hands armed with a conch, discus, lotus, sword, bow with an arrow, Trishul, mace, thunderbolt, snake and flame. Most certainly, an epitome of the mother, she protects her devotees from all corners of the sky and the Earth. Even more, Durga Puja is a peeping window into the richness of Bengali culture and tradition.
There is absence of any definitive account of the precise origin of the festival. That is to say that diverse accounts are provided by different scholars. Likewise, one view is based on tracing the lineage of Durga Puja to celebrations initiated by the Zamindars of Malda and Dinajpur in the century. In addition, there is oral documentation of the celebration of the first autumnal Durga Puja at Shobhabajar Rajbari. Seems like, the construction of the Rajbhabanby Raja Nabakrishna at Shobhabajar in 1757, also witnessed the celebration of the first Durga Puja in Kolkata.
The festival is celebrated in a grandeur way. Rather, words fall short to account for the magnanimity of the ritual in which the Hindus worship Goddess Durga. Above all, she is eulogized as the goddess of war. For the reason that her mythology revolves around combating evils and demonic forces. Consequently, she is seen as the guarantor of peace, prosperity, and Dharma. Firstly, it is the victory of good over evil. Secondly, it is the celebration of divine feminine power, regarded as ‘Maa’. Due to the fact that she is beautifully crafted in Kumartuli, a major part of the Bengali culture resides in the place. Most noteworthy, Kumartuli is the traditional potters’ quarter in the northern part of Kolkata where the idols are created and from where are even exported.
The festival is celebrated over a span of ten days. That is to say, it signifies the legendary battle between Goddess Durga and the evil demon, Mahishasura. While the tenth day is reflective of the culmination of the battle, it holds immense cultural significance. Consequently, Vijaydashmi is the symbolic celebration of the victory of Durga, implying ‘victory on the day’. Hence the idols are prepared well before the actual Puja starts. However, the ‘eyes’ of Goddess Durga are drawn only on Mahalaya, in a ritual known as ‘ChokkhuDaan’.
The fervour of the festivities begins with Mahalaya itself. Consequently, reaching its zenith from the sixth day and continuing till the tenth. As a result, each day provides a snapshot of the rich traditional heritage of Hindu mythology. Seems like, the festivities begin in the right earnest with MahaShashti (sixth day) which marks the arrival of Goddess Durga. Most importantly, it does so amidst the colour of specific rituals like the Amontron, Adibash and Bodhon. Subsequently, the following day marks the onset of the Maha Puja from Maha Saptami. Following which, the eight day is Maha Ashtami. Most noteworthy, it beckons the celebration of the Kumari Puja (young girls less than nine years are bedecked as Goddess Durga) and the Sandhi Puja towards the evening. Likewise, the conclusion of the Sandhi Puja marks the initiation of Maha Navami. Another religiously charged occasion, invoking the sacred traditional ritual of the Maha Aarti. Consequently, edging towards the magnificent end of the traditional saga, Maha Dashami embodies the act of giving farewell to Maa Durga. Finally, ss the process of immersion (visarjan) begins, the tradition is preceded by the colourful ritual of Sindoor khela.
And that’s where the pride of West Bengal lies. Due to the reason that celebrating Durga Puja is an emotion. Therefore, every Bengali takes pride in the traditions and the ‘khawa daawa’ that happens everywhere across Bengal. Certainly, the figures made from colourful lights which are put across the streets, the celebration and the finest Street food in India, unleash overwhelming sentiments. To sum up; Bengali food, pandal hopping and the celebration during the ten days, define the feel of the biggest festival of the year.