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Durga puja in Bengal
The biggest festival of Bengal !!
Devi Agaman !!
The festival of Durga puja starts with Mahalaya, the first phase of the waxing moon in Aswin month(mid october) of Hindu calender. On this day people offer prayers and their tributes to their ancestors, at the river banks of Ganga called ghats,this ritual is called Tarpan.
At the dawn of mahalaya , Chandi and Aagamani songs arre sung to welcome the goddess Durga and her family, the puja starts on the 6th day of navratris(nine nights).The festive mood builds up, as Dhakis (drummers) from the countryside starts beating the dhak with the coming of Devi. They beat feathered drums and the environment is set for the people to enjoy ever wanted Durga puja.
The first Durga Puja seems to have taken place in Nadia district somewhere around 1606. During those days Durga puja was considered a family festival and was organized by the rich families at their homes in west Bengal.
The image or the idol molding starts months ahead of puja at Kumartuli and kalighat,by the expert artisans .They use clay and chaff with bamboo sticks to model the images of Durga, Mahisasur, Kartik, Ganesh, Saraswati and Lakshmi.
This puja is a deep rooted culture inherited from ancestors,it's a creative work on Durga images and pandals.They are decorated with paper, wood, bamboos, clothes and other materials by the expert craftsman and then decorated wonderfully with clothes ornaments and paper pulp crowns . They give shape to beautiful structures which may last for 10 daysand then would be removed ,The pandals (tents) amazingly are true replicas of certain places around the world to which our eyes do not believe.
The inauguration of the puja starts on Mahashasthi(6th day). The main puja last for three days, Mahasaptami, Mahaastami, Mahanavami. The puja rituals are long and very detailed and complicated with verses chanted in sanskrit it starts with pushpanjali(flower offering to god and goddess ). Three days pass with a lot of Mantras and Shlokas and Arati and offerings by the priest and people.Today Durga puja has emerged as a community festival. The city of Calcutta(Kolkata) takes a different look during those three days, specially at night ,Kolkata looks like a bride in colors . Millions of people line up before the pandals waiting to see of the deities with enthusiasm.
The entire streets of the city are illuminated with different themes and light shows. The food stalls are scattered nearly every where in the city to feed the people who are going around to visit various pandals .Government take special care of the commuters.Buses and trains are on the go through out the night All the institutions remain closed during these four days of puja in West Bengal.After the three days of Puja, is Vijaya Dashami , the last day of puja on this day the goddess and gods are give farewell,it is a tearful farewell by the married women and sindhur play is performed.A grand ceremony is held to send-off the deities ,they are carried in processions around the locality with great pomp and show thrice and finally immersed in the river. Bengalis all over the world celebrate this puja to retain their culture.