Durga Puja, worship of the Hindu goddess Durga is one of the main religious and social festivals in the Hindu society. It is the main festival in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam. Now a days Durgapuja is also being celebrated throughout the country and as well as some foreign countries like USA, UK etc. Because of its very high expenses and investment of crores of rupees by several clubs, corporate houses in West Bengal, the puja is now being tagged as a corporate puja also.
Sri Sri Sharadiya Durgapuja
History of Durga Puja
Devi Durga is called the goddess of power. Though when are where Durga Puja first started is not known but in Indian Dravidian civilization, worship of goddess were present. In the Indus civilization Devi-mata, Trimastaka god and Pashupati Shiva were worshiped. At that time Devi were Durga worshiped as the mother goddess and the Shiva Ardhangini. Devi Durga is also mentioned in the Vedic literature. However, specific information, discussions and the ritual systems of Durga Puja is described in the Matsya Purana, Markandeya Purana, Devi Purana, Kalika Purana and Devi Bhagavata.
Sri Sri Gandeshwari and Sri Sri Banadurga idols
Devi Durga is worshiped in verious names like Jayadurga, Jagaddhatri, Gandheshvari, banadurga, Chandi, Narayani etc. Basically Durgapuja is celebrated twice in a Bengali calendar year. Sharadiya is celebrated during the bright half of the month of Ashwin and Bashanti Puja is celebrated during bright half of the month of Chaitra. Sharadiya Durga Puja is the most celebrated event in the Bengal where Devi Durga is also called as Mahishasur Mardini.
Old painting of Durgapuja celebration in Patna
Mahisasur Mardini avatar of Devi Durga
Mahishasura, the son of Rambha and Mahishi, who was blessed by Sri Bramha, of not being killed by any man or god, made the Gods go out of the heaven. Because of his torture, oppression and disturbance, all the Gods gathered at Sri Bishnu’s door to find out a solution to put an end to the situation. The solution came up as devi Sri Durga, born by the combined lighting rays of anger and power of the three gods i.e. Lord Brahma, Lord Bishnu and Lord Shiva. Devi Durga had countless hands  when she was born. All the gods gave Devi Durga their weapons, shields and every possible things to fight with Mahishasura. Among them the most important weapon was the trident, that was given by Lord Shiva and by which Durga killed Mahishasura at the end.
There is another story for the Mahishasura being worshiped along with Devi Durga is something like, one day Devi Bhadra Kali (one of many avatars of Devi Durga) came into Mahishasura’s dream and Mahishasura prayed to her that “I’m willing to die in your hands but I want to get worshiped with you after my death”. There Devi blessed him and said “Mahishasura will also be worshiped everywhere in the 3 forms of Devi Durga i.e. Ugra Chandi, Bhadra Kali and Durga”. May be that is why Mahishasura is seen with the goddess during Durgapuja.
As Devi Durga was born to and killed Mahishasura this avatar of the Goddess Durga is known as Mahishasura Mardini and this avatar is worshiped during Sharadiya Durgotshob.
Devi Durga as Mahishasura Mardini
Actual Sharadiya Durga Puja starts on the New Moon day of the month Ashshin in Bengali calendar. As per rituals, this is the day when Devi Durga along with her 4 children, comes to the Earth. On this day people pray to the goddess by chanting the mantras also known as Chadipath to come to the Earth to fight evils. As Devi Durga or the mother of all powers comes to the Earth, the Pitri Paksha ends and Devi Paksha starts.
On this day, Hindu men offer their gratitude to their dead relatives and pray for their ancestors souls peace. This pray is done by standing in water, most preferably in the Ganges at the very morning on this day. This pray is called Tilatarpana.
Men performing Tarpan for their ancestors
After Mahalaya, on the 5th New Moon day, Durga Puja starts with doing the Bilva Nimantran and Devi Bodhon. That is something like inviting the goddess with Bilva Patra and after she arrives the greeting is called Bodhon. The next day is Maha Sashthi. Events on this day are Kalparambha, Akal Bodhon, Amantran and Adhivas. The 7th New Moon day is called Maha Saptami. Navpatrika Puja, Navapatrika Sthapon and Kolabou Puja are done on Maha Saptami.
Kalparambha, Kola Bou Puja, Bodhon and Adhibas, Naba Patrika Puja
Maha Ashtami is the most important day among all other Durga Puja days. Sandhi Puja and Bolidan during the Sandhi Puja make this day so important. 108 Lotus and 108 Pradip are required during the Sandhi Puja. It is some how like once the Sandhi Puja is finished, the countdown of Durga Visarjan begins.
Maha Asthami Sandhi Puja at Belur Math
After Maha Asthami, the next New Moon day is Maha Navami. In some states of India, this day is also called Rama Navami because Sri Rama worshiped Sri Durga on this day before he killed Ravana the next day. Bolidan and Maha Navami Homa are the main events on this day. The 10th New Moon day is Vijaya Dashami. This is day celebrated with Sindoor Utsav to say good bye to the Goddess. On this day Devi Durga leaves the Earth goes back to the heaven. With the Durga Protima Visarjan on Bijaya Dashami this grand occasion ends.
Durga Protima Bisorjon
Time table for Durgapuja 2015
|Day of Puja
||12 October 2015 (24th Ashshin)
||Up to 4:25 AM for Tilatarpana
||18th October 2015 (30th Ashshin)
||Up to 10:34 AM
||Bilva Nimantran, Devi Bodhon
||19th October 2015 (1st Kartik)
||Up to 10:23 AM
||Kalparambha, Akal Bodhon, Amantran and Adhivas
||20th October 2015 (2nd Kartik)
||Up to 09:43 AM
||Navpatrika Puja, Navapatrika Sthapon, Kolabou Puja
||21st October 2015 (3rd Kartik)
||Up to 08:35 AM
Sandhi Puja starts – 8:11 AM
Bolidan – 8:35 AM
Sandhi Puja ends – 8:59 AM
|Kumari Puja, Sandhi Puja, Bolidan
||22nd October 2015 (4th Kartik)
||Up to 07:04 AM
||Bolidan, Maha Navami Hom
||22 October 2015 (4th Kartik)
||Up to 23rd October 5:13 AM
||Sindoor Utsav, Bijaya Dashami, Durga Visarjan