Welcoming Maa Dugga!

Hello there :)

The biggest Hindu festival Durga Puja (fondly Dugga Pujo) starts today! And this year too, I couldn’t make it to my native Kolkata :(

It refers to all the six days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Bijoya Dashami. The dates of Durga Puja celebrations are set according to the traditional Hindu calendar.

Durga Puja is widely celebrated in the Indian states of West Bengal,Bihar,Assam, Jharkhand, Orissa and Tripura where it is a five-day annual holiday. In West Bengal and Tripura which has majority of Bengali Hindus it is the biggest festival of the year. Not only is it the biggest Hindu festival celebrated throughout the State, but it is also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society. Apart from eastern India, Durga Puja is also celebrated in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir, Karnataka and Kerala. Durga Puja is also celebrated as a major festival in Nepal and in Bangladesh where 10% population are Hindu. Nowadays, many diaspora Bengali cultural organizations arrange for Durgotsab in countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Singapore and Kuwait, among others. In 2006, a grand Durga Puja ceremony was held in the Great Court of the British Museum.” – Just came to know about all these from Wikipedia.

In Bengal, Durga Puja is also called Akalbodhan, Sharadiya Pujo, Sharodotsab , Maha Pujo , Maayer Pujo or merely as Dugga Puja or Pujo.

Somewhere inside the complex pandals is a stage on which Durga reigns, standing on her lion mount, wielding ten weapons in her ten hands. This is the religious center of the festivities, and the crowds gather to offer flower worship or pushpanjali on the mornings, of the sixth to ninth days of the waxing moon fortnight known as Devi Pakshya (Devi = goddess; Pakshya = period; Devi Pakshya meaning the period of the goddess). Ritual drummers – dhakis, carrying large leather-strung dhak –– show off their skills during ritual dance worships called aarati. On the tenth day, Durga the mother returns to her husband, Shiva, ritualised through her immersion into the waters–– Bishorjon also known as Bhaashan.

Many Bengali films, albums and books are released to coincide with the Puja. Many people travel in India or abroad during this time. Gatherings of friends called “Aadda” in Bengali is common in many homes and restaurants. A lot of shopping is done, and retailers cash in on this opportunity with special offers.

But nothing can beat Kolkata during this time. The charm of these 5 days is available nowhere but Kolkata…

And for all of you who missed Mahalaya last week…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl210X_9w8s&feature=related

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