Durga Puja is celebrated throughout the country, with passion, devotion, and a variety of rituals. Goddess Durga is the epitome of Strength or Shakti, and depicts the victory of good over evil. Durga Puja is most grandly celebrated by the Bengalis, but, other states of the country have incorporated the celebration in the month of Ashwin, i.e September/October month of the English Calendar. Lets have a look at the various Autumn Festivals around India:
Ramlila in Northern States
Navratri in Punjab
Garva in Gujarat’s Navratri
Ayudh Puja in the Southern States
In the Southern Indian states, this is the time of the Ayudh Puja. In simple terms, it means “Worship of Implements”. It is celebrated in Karnataka (in erstwhile Mysore State) as “Ayudha Puje” (Kannada: ಆಯುಧ ಪೂಜೆ),in Andhra Pradeshas Aayudha Pooja (Telugu: ఆయుధ పూజ), in Kerala as Ayudha Puja (Malayalam: ആയുധ പൂജ), “Astra Puja” or “Ayudha Puja” in Orissa, and in Tamil Nadu as Ayudha Pujai (Tamil: ஆயுத பூஜை).
In Karnataka, the erstwhile Mysore state of the Maharajas of Mysore, the ancient Dasara festival started as a family tradition within the precincts of the palace. The royal family perform the Ayudh Pooja as a part of the Dasara, inside the palace grounds. In Kerala, the festival is called Ayudha Puja or Saraswati Puja as part of the ten-day puja ceremonies. In Tamil Nadu, Golu is the festival celebrated during the Navaratri period. On this occasion dolls, predominantly that of the Gods and Goddesses from Hindu Tradition are artistically arranged on a seven stepped wooden platform. Traditionally, ‘marapachi’ wooden dolls representing Perumal and Thayaar are also displayed together at a dominant location on the top step of the platform erected specially for the occasion.
Kalaash Puja in Jharkhand
Traditionally in Jharkhand, Navaratri is observed in the occasion of Durga Puja. People usually fast for nine days and live on fruits. Every evening Haavan or aarti is conducted. On the first day there is kalaash Puja, where the kalaash with weed or grasses is established in the pandal. The purohit chants Durga Sabsati- the Sanskrit slokes. The ninth day witnesses kumari puja. On Dashami there is Maaha Havaan. Everyone is invited for the feast which again consists of delicious Indian cuisines. There are garva nights, fairs and markets. On the eighth day jagraata is conducted. Jharkhand holds theme pujas, and the pandals are nicely decorated, big in size, and filled with lights.
After Vijayadashami, the grass from the established kalaash is taken by students for their books. In this way people of Jharkhand celebrate Durga puja.
North East region
Assam: Introduced by Pratap Singh. Most predominant in the Basak Valley region. Theme puja is common. continues for five days, Goddess Durga is worshiped. People fast before giving Anjali and aarti.
Tripura: Mostly celebrated in Agartala. Several clubs and organisations consisting of the bengali community organised the puja. The most famous puja of Tripura is 500 years old, hosted by the erstwhile royal family, and sponsored by the government. The key difference of this puja is the sacrificing of animals and non vegetarian prasads.
Meghalaya: Bengali community living in Shillong started the tradition. Local skilled artisans make idols of Goddess Durga. After Vijayadashami the idol is immersed in the Umutru River.
Sharodotsab of West Bengal
Durga Puja is the biggest festival of the Bengalis. Throughout the year they wait for the auspicious month of Ashwin, when fields are covered with Kash flowers, and the sky is crystal blue.
For Bengalis Durga Puja is a grand affair. It starts with the onset of Mahalaya, where Birendra Krishna Bhadra recites and various singers sing the Agomoni song, depicting the entire episode of birth of Goddess Durga and the defeat of Mahishasura in the hands of Goddess Durga. People often go to riversides to pay tribute to their ancestors, a ritual known as tarpan. Eyes are drawn for the idols all around Bengal.
The main Puja starts on saptami, with the bathing of Kalabou, the wife of Lord Ganesha. Aarti, anjali goes on at a stipulated duration of time in the day. Ashtami gathers a lot of importance as the main Anjali and aarti are conducted on this day. People fast till the time of the anjali, and wear their best clothes on this day.
Navami witnesses maha yogya or havaan, and feast with all the people of a locality invited.
Roads are lit up, buildings are adorned with lights, banners, hoardings cover the cities and the towns. The sound of dhaaks during the puja creates a sense of brotherhood. Pandal hopping throughout the night is very common. The entire city wears a garland of lights, pomp and grandeur.
On Bijoya Dashami, married women play with sindoor or vermilion to wish each other the happiness of a safe family. The idols are taken to nearby water bodies, such as ponds, lakes and sometimes rivers for the immersion. A procession comes into full swing, with people dancing and lighting crackers. Everyone has one wish in their heart and that is to witness the Durga Puja again the following year, in a safe and sound manner.
So these are the few ways in which different cultures and traditions celebrate Durga Puja. The Puja brings peace and happiness, the time when everyone unites forgetting all differences.
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