September 28: A light of optimism beckons as India prepares for the festive season amid the melancholy and misery brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Durga Puja will kick off the festivities on October 11 and will remain until October 15 this year. Durga Puja isn’t just a festival. It brings with it several colours – hues of love, association, traditions and more. In this article, let’s explore Durga Puja and many colours of India.
Durga Puja and many colours of India
The 10-day celebration, which marks Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demon king Mahishasura, is celebrated not only with great pride and enthusiasm throughout India, but also in a variety of ways, giving the holiday a distinct regional flavour.
The celebrations throughout much of eastern India are led by West Bengal, which has the earliest historical records of Durga Puja celebrations dating back to the 16th century. Hundreds of thousands of people from India and beyond attend the festival, which is a symbol of Bengali culture. The arrival of the Goddess is marked by the first day, or ‘Mahalaya.’ The Bengali community celebrates the day by waking up before sunrise to listen to a radio transmission of songs and mantras performed by the famed Birendra Krishna Bhadra.
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People swarm elegant theme-based Puja pandals on the sixth day, or “Shashthi,” which officially kicks off the celebrations. Huge crowds, serpentine lines, and an unrivalled celebration of heritage, art, and innovation, as well as magnificent light shows, make Kolkata’s Durga Puja one of a kind in India for the next three days. The festival ends on the tenth day, or “Dashami,” when idols are immersed in river bodies with similar zeal the next day.
Adjacent states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, and the north-eastern states follow a similar pattern, however their scale and exuberance pale in contrast to Bengal’s.
The holiday has a different name in diametrically opposed western India, especially Gujarat – Navratri, which literally means “nine nights.” The Goddess is worshipped in various fashions on each of these nine nights.
The most popular attraction, however, is the ‘Ras Garba and Dandiya’ celebrations, which take place all throughout Gujarat and attract thousands of people to sing and dance to traditional folk music. Garba and dandiya gatherings, a popular fad among the young and old, abound in Gujarat’s communities, similar to Bengal’s theme-based puja pandals.
Another famous rite is the “Kanya Puja,” in which nine young girls, each portraying a different aspect of the Goddess Durga, are worshipped and frequently showered with clothes, food, and other items. In this region, Navratri is also linked with a period of soil fertility and monsoon harvest.
Good over evil
Durga Puja takes on a whole new meaning in North India. The celebration is known as “Dussehera” in India, and it marks Lord Rama’s victory over the evil King Ravana, as told in the Hindu epic Ramayana. In this section of India, ‘Ramlilas,’ or stage dramas based on the Ramayana, are the most popular. The festival concludes on ‘Vijay Dashami,’ or the tenth day, with the burning of gigantic effigies of ‘Ravana,’ symbolising the triumph of good over evil.
The majority of festivities in the south are low-key. The celebration is called in Karnataka as “Dasara” and is well known for the Mysore Dasara carnival. During the nine-day celebrations, epic dramas based on puranas (old Hindu literature) called “Yakshagana” are performed.
In addition, Goddess Chamundi street processions are held in Mysore. It’s also the time of year when many people in South India perform the “Ayudha Puja,” in which all tools, books, machinery, and automobiles, as well as Goddess Saraswati, are honoured. The festival, like the rest of India, comes to an end on Vijaya Dashami, or the tenth day.
As a result, Durga Puja symbolises the triumph of good over evil and brings in India’s long festive season. It’s a moment to gather together and honour the myriad shades of tradition, rites, and the sacred that have bound us for ages. The festival’s many distinct manifestations serve as a reminder of India’s strength as a diverse country.