Again it’s that time of the year when the serene morning air of autumn echos with the sound of ‘shankh’ and ‘mantras’, soothing fragrance of shiuli flowers, smell of incense burning. The heart of every Hindu is filled with joy and realization that the Goddess of supreme power — Durga, is coming to bless us all.
The end of ‘Pitru Paksha’ (16 days lunar period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors) marks the beginning of ‘Devi Paksha’. It is believed that Devi Durga descends on earth during this period for nine-days and heal all our problems. We celebrate this festival of homecoming as ‘Navratri’ (Nine Nights).
The Goddess is ritualistically invoked in an earthen pot known as ‘Kalash’. In Hinduism, ‘Kalash Sthapana’ is considered a sacred ritual and said to be the abode of Gods & Goddesses. Devotees request Devi Durga to accept their prayers and to oblige them by residing into the Kalash for nine days. This ritual is called ‘Aavahan’ (Invocation).
In India, whenever a daughter comes to visit her parents, the entire family celebrates. Similarly Devi Durga is also treated as a daughter who returns from her husband Lord Shiv’s home to spent some time with her devotees.
The festival is equally celebrated by everyone, no matter their color, creed or social background. People dance on the exuberant beats of ‘Garba’ or ‘Dandiya’, chant hymns from ‘Durga Saptashati’, go pandal hopping to seek blessings from Maa Durga and of course treat their stomach with mouthwatering delicacies. After all any celebration is incomplete without tasty food. For complete 10 days it’s a party time, after which the Goddess leaves for her husband’s abode on ‘Vijayadashmi’. This ritual is known as ‘Visarjan’. The only consolation being her return next year!
The festival symbolizes the worship of ‘Shakti’ in the form of the universal mother Durga to bestow upon man all wealth , auspiciousness, prosperity, knowledge (both sacred & secular), and all other potent powers. It celebrates women, it celebrates the girl child and even celebrates agriculture (as we sow seed grains for nine days).
Enchanted by the divine aura, Durga Puja is not just a celebration of religion or mere worship of a deity. But It is a celebration of culture and life.
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