Durga Puja, or the yearly festival of Hindu goddess Durga, is India’s most-celebrated carnival on faith. It is usually celebrated for 6 days in specific states of the country, but it also stretches up to 10 days in states such as Bengal.
In most of Northern India, the festival is lauded as Navratri (nine nights). Regardless of these assortments, the four days of Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Vijay Dashami, are particularly huge across the country.
Every pandal in India is usually based on a theme — be it the legends of Goddess Durga or scenes from Hindu epics. Nowadays, some pandals are themed on social motivation to spread care and a message. Day time is usually better to hop the pandals when the gathering is less but the marvelously lit pandals in the evenings make the celebrations brighter and must-see.
Durga Puja exhibits the brilliant culture of Bengalis in India and across the globe. Most Bengalis start their day with fasting and then after the initial prayers are offered to Durga Maa they end their day with mouth-watering feasts with their families and friends. The evenings during Kolkata Durga Puja witness streets loaded with sea of people and most prefer eating out while hoping pandals. World travelers who come to document this extravaganza have always reported never-seen-before enthusiasm which is incomparable to any other religious celebrations.
On the sixth day of Navratri and the principle day of Durga Puja in Kolkata, the deity is brought to the pandal. The deity is then enriched with blossoms, garments, gems, red vermillion, desserts and are kept in front of the Goddess. The Goddess is always accompanied by her four children Ganesh, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Karthik. It is said Durga Maa visits her mother’s house with her children leaving her husband Shiva alone for 10 days.
The tenth and final day of Durga Puja festivity is called Dashami. It is acknowledged that on this day, Goddess Durga triumphed over the demon Asur. It is thus called Vijay Dashami. On this day, Goddess Durga is worshipped and asked to come back again next year. People gather in huge numbers and join the motorcades that take the deity to the ghats to be immersed in water. Married women start the procession by first applying red sindoor or vermillion powder on the Goddess and later to each other. The day usually ends on a happy note but with a vacuum in everyone’s heart that Durga Maa will be missed as she will come back again after a yearlong wait.
This Durga Puja is different. As the world fights a pandemic, Durga Puja 2020 is more symbolic than the celebrations. This Durga Puja brings with it a hope of triumph over an evil virus called COVID-19. We should not overlook that the pandemic isn’t over yet and our lives are still in danger. We know Durga Puja is the time for celebrations and euphoria but remember our safety and battle with the pandemic will help us sail through the crisis and enjoy the next Durga Puja with double the zeal.