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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Grand Durga festival

Durga Idol"Ashche Maa Palki Kore," meaning Goddess Durga is coming in a Palanquin.

The azure sky with fleecy white clouds and the nip in the air marks the advent of autumn - the season for Bengal's most popular festival, Durga Puja or the worship of Goddess Durga. Durga Puja is celebrated with customary pomp and fanfare. Durga Puja is the most important festival of Bengalis. The familiar sound of Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh, the mild fragrance of Shiuli, gives a familiar tug to every Bengali heart. It is a great occasion for every Bengali in West Bengal or abroad. Durga Puja is celebrated with joy all over India, especially West Bengal in worship of Goddess Durga. Singing, dancing, sweets & gaiety are an integral part of the Durga Puja Festival. People send Durga Puja Gifts to dear ones and express good wishes.

Durga, in Sanskrit means "She who is incomprehensible or difficult to reach." Goddess Durga is a form of Shakti worshiped for her gracious as well as terrifying aspect. Mother of the Universe, she represents the infinite power of the universe and is a symbol of a female dynamism. The manifestation of Goddess Durga is said to emerge from Her formless essence and the two are inseparable.

She is also called by many other names, such as Parvati, Ambika, and Kali. In the form of Parvati, She is known as the divine spouse of Lord Shiva and is the mother of Her two sons, Ganesha and Karttikeya, and daughter Jyoti. Destroyer of demons, she is worshiped during an annual festival called Durga puja, especially popular among Bengalis.

Durga puja is widely celebrated by Bengalis. The festive mood that they get into is worth mentioning. Across the world, Durga Puja serves as a community gathering and a connection to roots for the widespread Bengali diaspora. Tokyo has nearly ten Pujas, and North America has several hundred. Some of the oldest Durga Puja celebrations outside Bengal have been taking place in the United Kingdom for over seventy years. In recent years, Bengali communities in Australia, France and Germany have also started annual Durga Puja celebrations. So this shows that not only in India but all over the world it is a widely enjoyed occasion. Even in countries like Italy and Portugal Durga puja is also being celebrated.

The festivities begin from maha shashthi (the sixth day from the day after mahalaya) when the priest unveils the deity during a puja known as bodhan. On this day the women of the house fast for the well-being of the family. The fast is broken in the evening with fruits and luchis (a kind of puri made of flour), usually eaten with sabzi (vegetables). It is normal for the whole family to participate in these rituals, especially when it comes to partaking of the yummy luchis and sabzi. A trip to the local pandal is also a must.


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