सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके ।
शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥
This famous verse aptly defines Goddess Durga as it praises her purity and the power that she embodies along with her divinity and feminity. According to it, Goddess Durga is auspicious and imparts her auspiciousness to the world. She protects the ones who surrender themselves to her as she is the mother of 3 worlds and is known as Gauri, the daughter of mountains.
While we worship Goddess Durga throughout the year, Durga Puja is that time of the year when we worship and express our gratitude to the one who is a divine manifestation of the feminine energy and power. This 9-day long festival is one of the most popular festivals celebrated in India which marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon king, Mahishasura. Although the festival is celebrated primarily in the northeastern states of the country like West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Tripura, Bihar, and Jharkhand, Navratri or Durga Puja is celebrated pan India as well with great fervour.
A look at the history, significance and interesting facts related to Durga Puja
Durga Puja symbolizes the victory of good over evil. As per the Indian mythological texts, there was a demon king called Mahishasura who was blessed by Lord Brahma that no man or animal can defeat him. When his ill-deeds were unbearable, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva combined their powers to give birth to goddess Durga an avatar of Shakti. Goddess Durga then appeared on earth and fought with Mahishasura for 10 days to eventually defeat him. Durga Puja begins on the last day of Pitru Paksha when the goddess is invited on Earth from Kailash which is her husband's home. This day is known as Mahalaya, and the beginning of 'Devi Paksha' from here onwards the 9 days of Durga Puja are celebrated.
The divine feminine energy is celebrated Pan India with diverse names such as Navratri (9-day festival), and Durga Puja (6-day festival). The festival celebrates different avatars of Goddess Durga. Day 1 is dedicated to Goddess Shailputri, Day 2 to Goddess Brahmacharani, Day 3 to Goddess Chandraghanta, Day 4 to Goddess Kushmanda, Day 5 to Goddess Skandamata, Day 6 to Goddess Katyayani, Day 7 to Goddess Kaalratri, Day 8 to Goddess Mahagauri, and Day 9 to Goddess Siddhidatri.
Shifting the focus back to Durga puja, the festival is usually celebrated between the month of September and October after the Pitru Paksha gets over. In 2019, Durga puja will commence from 29th September 2019 but all the fun festivities begin only from 6th day which goes on until the 10th day which is from 4th October to the 8th October. A day before the festival begins is known as ‘Mahalaya’, the sixth day as ‘Shashthi’, the seventh day as ‘Saptami’, the eighth day as ‘Ashtami’ the ninth day as ‘Navami’ and the last day as ‘Vijaya Dashmi’ when the idol of goddess Durga is immersed in a water body.
Celebrate the Unique Rituals of Durga Puja
On ‘Ashtami’, the eighth day of the festival, a young girl who hasn’t reached the age of puberty is worshipped as she symbolizes the young avatar of Maa Durga.
Dhunuchi is a clay pot in which coconut husk is burned to enhance the ambiance with a nice aroma. Devotees hold this clay pot and dance in front of the idol of goddess Durga.
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Sindoor Khela is played on the eighth day of the festival by married women. Women dress in their traditional lal par shada saree and apply sindoor or vermillion on each other's faces to greet other married women at the pandal.