Durga Puja festival begins on the 6th day of Sharad Navratri, In 2023 it will be celebrated from Friday, October 20, 2023, till Tuesday, October 24, 2023.
Durga Puja 2023
Durga Puja - Durga Puja is a wholesome period of joy for a brief ten-day’s time. During this time, Maa Parvati, another form of Goddess Durga, returns home to her father’s place with her children. She visits her homeland during the time of which we, her worshippers, cater to her with different exciting rituals in all ten days. These ten days mark the days of elated joy and the most awaited time in the entire year. Especially for the Bengalis, the Durga Puja is a period of absolute joy, refreshing and breaking all the rules they keep for the rest of the year. It is rather an emotion for them to celebrate this time of the year.
Durga Puja is a ten-day-long celebration of Devi Shakti, the power that Devi Durga beholds and the aspect of Good Over Evil. The festival begins with the Mahalaya and ends with Dashami. It is said that every year during this time of the year, Devi Durga visits her homeland, or the home of her father, Prithvii. She travels from all across from Kailash, where she stays with Lord Shiva. She is said to bring her children: Lord Ganesha, Lord Kartikeya, Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Laxmi. Thus, they all are worshipped together alongside Devi Durga. And it is also said that on the tenth day, that is, on the day of Dashami, she returns to Kailash with her children to Lord Shiva.
The festival lasts ten days. And among those ten days, the five days between Panchami and Dashami mark days of elite happiness, joy and celebration among all Bengalis. Especially for those who reside in Kolkata, West Bengal.
When is Durga Puja 2023?
Every year, the auspicious festival of Durga Puja dedicated to Goddess Durga begins on the sixth day of Sharad Navratri. Being a vital part of Navratri celebrations, Durga Puja in 2023 will be observed from Friday, 20 October till Tueday, 24 October. Durga Puja annually begins with Shashsti, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, and Dashami. It ends on the tenth day of Navratri festival also popular as Dashami.
History of Durga Puja
The evil entities in Hindu mythology are commonly referred to as the Asuras. Mahisasura meditated to gain a boon from Lord Brahma. And after extended meditation, Lord Brahma appeared. He had asked for immortality. But since immortality was the attribute that could only belong to the Gods and not the Asuras, Lord Brahma blessed him with the boon that no one but a woman could kill Mahisasura.
This boon made Mahisasura feel that he was invincible. He brought riots and destruction throughout Devloka, the land of the Gods. Lord Shiva along with all the mighty Gods, assembled to create Devi Shakti, Devi Durga, to bring an end to Mahishasura.
Each offered Devi Durga different powers and abilities, and they created the emblem of power or Shakti. Then, there was a historic battle between Devi, the representative of good and Mahishasura, the representative of evil. The battle ended with Devi Durga defeating Mahishasura with her carrier, the mighty lion, which was the offering by the king of Himalaya.
Durga Puja Celebrations
The celebration of Durga Puja starts with bringing the idol of Devi Durga. The most famous place where these idols are carved in Kumartuli. There are many other places where Devi Durga's idols are also made, and they are clay idols that are beautifully crafted and decorated. Entire east India tends to celebrate this festival, for Durga Puja is rather a socio-cultural celebration more than being a festival.
One of the most exciting aspects of Durga Puja is the making of Pandals. Huge and unique pandals are made where Devi Durga's idols are brought and worshipped. There are even competitions for the best, the battle of the best pandals. One thing without which no Durga Puja can ever start is the beats of the Dhak. Dhak is a special drum or dhol that is the mist-have in every Durga Puja. The entire Durga Puja is celebrated with the rhythms of Dhak and conch shells, better known as "Shankha".
Then comes the beautiful "Arati", which is how goddess Durga is worshipped with Pradeep. Here, it must be mentioned about the "Dhunuchi Naach". It is a celebratory form of dance with Dhunuchi, a Bengali incense burner, and through this dance, people tend to devote themselves and worship Devi Durga.
On the eighth day, which is, on Maha Ashtami, all people fast in the morning. And they break their fast after "Anjali", a special ritual for worshipping the goddess. Although Anjali occurs every day during the festival, the Anjali on the eight-day is said to be more special. Another eminent event of Ashtami is the Sandhi Puja, which is arati for the goddess during the evening.
Lastly, on the tenth day, on Dashami, Devi Durga bids farewell through the ritual of "Sindoor Khela". Here all women smear vermilion on each other and on the idol of the goddess along with feeding her and each other sweets. And the festival ends with submerging Devi Durga in water, symbolising her returning to Kailash. This marks the waiting period of another year for her and the celebrations to return in the next year.
Significance of Durga Puja
There resides considerable significance behind the celebration of Devi Durga. The prime reason is to celebrate and honour the battle between Devi Durga and Mahisaura, thereby marking the aspect of good over evil. The festival also celebrates the power of womanhood and the power behind the attributes of women who can be both nurturing and also turn destructive when the need to protect arises.
Thus, Durga Puja is an auspicious celebration marking not just a period of elation and joy but also a reminder of good over evil and the power of women to be both nurturing and destructive at the same time when their need for protection rises.