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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Celebrate Durga Puja, Durgotsab, Durga Pooja Festival

Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsab is an auspicious occasion which is prominently celebrated in the Indian state of West Bengal or Bengal. In the nine days long celebrations of Durga Puja festival, Goddess Durga, one of the most revered Goddess for the Hindus, is worshiped in
different forms like as goddess of valor, wisdom and wealth. Although the festival of Durga Puja is celebrated mainly in the state of West Bengal but the festive spirit and joy is omnipresent throughout India and the other states of India like Manipur, Orissa, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra and Jharkhand also enjoy the jubilance of Durga Puja with great enthusiasm and devotion.

Apart from being a festival, Durga Pooja has become a social-cultural event that celebrates the cheerfulness of life, the vibrant culture, the set rituals and traditions. During the celebrations of Durga Puja, huge puja pandals are erected in which idols of Goddess Durga along with Goddess Saraswati and Lord Ganesha are placed and worshiped. Lots of dancing, singing devotional songs in praise of Goddess Durga, preparation of special festive dishes are also an integral part of
Durga Puja celebrations.

Different Names of Durga Puja Festival
Durga Puja festival is known and celebrated with different names in in various parts of India like: in Bengal, Durga Pooja is also known as Akalbodhan (untimely awakening of Durga), Durgotsab (festival of Durga), Maayer Pujo (worship of the Mother). Durga Puja festival is also called Navratri Puja in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi. It is celebrated as Kullu Dussehra in Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh.

When is Durga Pooja
Durga Pooja is celebrated twice a year, once in the month of Chaitra (April-May) and then in Ashwin (September-October). On both occasions nine different forms of Goddess Durga is worshipped threfore called Durga Navratri (nine nights). According to the Hindu Calendar Durga
Pooja festival starts on the first day and ends on tenth day of bright half (Shukla Paksha) of Ashwin month.

In year 2008 Durga Puja festival will be celebrated from 30th September-09th October.

Celebrations of Durga Puja Festival
Durga pooja is celebrated extensively all over India but West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar are the states where beautiful idols of the Mother Goddess are worshipped in elaborate pandals, durga temples for nine days, and on the tenth day, these are carried out in
procession for visarjan (immersion) in a river or pond.

The festivities start with the first day called Mahalaya. It is also the day of the beginning of the countdown to the Durga Puja. The face of the goddess remains covered until the bodhon (unveiling) ritual is performed on Sasthi - the sixth day of the moon. Fast is observed on
this day by women for the well being of their families.

The Goddess is worshipped as a kumari or young girl, and reveals herself in her true form Mahasaptami (the seventh day of the moon). On Mahastami (eighth day) and Mahanavami (ninth day) the celebrations reach a fever pitch. New shining clothes, smiling faces, dancing
devotees, chantings of Mantras, spectacular display of lights and the rhythmic beat of dhak (drums) adds excitement to the festive occasion. On Vijay Dashami (tenth day) the idol of Durga is immersed in water after performing customary rituals. The ten-armed goddess dazzles the
devotees with her splendour and appearance of fiery valour during her short stay every year.

Significance of Durga Pooja Festival
Durga is an incarnation of power the resides in every element of this universe. The literary meaning of 'Durga' is 'difficult to approach'. Being Durga, Goddess Durga is the embodiment of intelligence, power, wealth, beauty and mercy that is creator, preserver and destroyer of
this universe.

During Durga Puja festival, nine different forms of Goddess Durga is worshipped. The whole image of ten-headed and multi-armed mother goddess riding on a Lion is shown destroying buffalo-demon Mahishasura. This image signifies the victory of Good over Evil and also tells to invoke divinity by controlling the senses to get diverted to bad habits.

Durga Pooja festival is a celebration of life and its traditional and valuable culture.

Legends of Durga Puja
According to a Puranic legend attached to this day, demon Mahishasur vanquished the gods and their king, Indra, who approached the Holy Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They in turn sought the help of the divine mother Durga who, equipped with lethal weapons, riding a
ferocious lion, in all her awesome majesty, killed Mahishasur. This day, thus, also celebrates the magnificence and omnipotence of Goddess Durga.

The festival of Durga Pooja has its link with Pandavas. According to the great Indian epic the Mahabharat, the Pandavas had to spend 12 years wandering in the forest and one year in camouflaged form. The Pandavas spent their last year in the court of Virat. On the end of
one year Pandavas regained their arms from the shammi tree and declared their true identification. It was the day of Vijay Dashmi. Since that day the exchange of Shami leaves has become the symbol glory and triumph.

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