Celebrated with grandeur, Durga Puja is one of the most popular festivals of the country. Durga Puja this year will be celebrated from 1 to 5 October. Goddess Durga is worshipped as Mahisasuramardini which means the annihilator of the demon Mahisasura. Durga Puja celebrates Maa Durga’s victory over the demon.
The festival is primarily celebrated in the states of Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Odisha, and Bihar. After defeating the demon in the cosmic world, it is believed that Goddess Durga visits Earth with her family. As Durga Puja is celebrated with great zeal, let’s have a look at some of the facts related to it:
1. Lord Ram believed to worship all incarnations of the Goddess: According to mythology, Lord Ram is believed to have worshipped all nine incarnations of Goddess Durga in order to get her abilities before his battle with Ravana. Lord Ram successfully saved Sita on the tenth day, commonly known as Vijaya Dashmi or Dussehra.
2. Making eyes in darkness: This ritual of offering the eye to Goddess Durga, known as Chokkhudaan, is among the many interesting factors associated with this puja. Eyes are generally believed to be the pathways of light. But you will be really surprised to know that the idol maker has to make the third eye of the Goddess in complete darkness. However, this ritual is rarely followed these days as sculptors have to finish the idol making beforehand.
3. Sandhya Aarti: The days of Durga Puja do not follow the 12 to 12 clock system. The day changes in the evening. Every evening of Durga Puja is performed in a grand way. Drums and bells welcome the new day with dance and especially, the dhunuchi naach. Sandhya Aarti or the Evening Offering is an important ritual. The chant and incantations continue till next morning.
Here are some of the rituals associated with the puja:
1. Sindoor Khela: Married Hindu women wear the vermillion (sindoor) mark on their forehead. On Dashami, the goddess is given farewell before being taken out for immersion in the river. One of the rituals for that time is Sindoor Khela where married women (not widows) offer vermillion and sweets to Maa Durga. After that, they apply vermillion on one another.
2. Dhunuchi Naach: This is one of the most fun-filled rituals that happens on Navami (ninth day) evening. Clay pots are filled with burning charcoal. People take these pots in their hands and start dancing to the beats of dhaak. Those who have been doing it for years, hold the clay pots on their head, sometimes they even hold a pot by their teeth. Traditionally performed by men, dhunuchi naach nowadays is also performed by women.
3. Kumari Puja: On Ashtami, the Goddess is worshipped in the form of a virgin girl and the ritual is known as Kumari Puja, it is celebrated to emphasise the holiness of the female energy and its spread in society. It is believed that after the puja, Goddess Durga turns into a girl (Kumari).