The auspicious festival of Durga Puja will start on October 1 and will end on October 5. This festival is dedicated to Goddess Durga and is celebrated in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, and Tripura.
The five days that are followed during Durga Puja are Shashthi, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, and Dashami.
The festival is celebrated in the month of Ashwin and is celebrated because Goddess Durga defeated the demon Mahishasura in a battle. This festival signifies victory of good over evil.
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It is believed that in the 17th and 18th centuries, zamindars and rich people organised pujas on a very large scale, where everyone gathered under one roof to worship Goddess Durga. For example, Achala Puja is very famous in Kolkata. It was started in 1610 by zamindar Laxmikant Majumdar from 33 Raja Nabakrishna Road in Shobha Bazar Chhoto Rajbari in Kolkata, but mainly began in 1757. Not only that, the statue of Goddess Durga was installed in pandals outside Bengal, and her puja was organised in a grand manner.
Another story is that the celebration of Durga Puja in West Bengal started after the Battle of Plassey in 1757. It is said that Durga Puja was organised for the first time to thank God for the victory of the British in the Battle of Plassey. Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula, the ruler of Bengal, was defeated in the Battle of Plassey.
22 miles south of Murshidabad in Bengal, there is a place named Plassey on the banks of the Ganges. It was here on June 23, 1757, that there was a war between the Nawab’s army and the British. The British East India Company’s army fought the war under the leadership of Robert Clive and defeated Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula. However, before the war, through conspiracy, Robert Clive had taken some of the leading courtiers of the Nawab and the wealthy Seths of the city with him.
It is said that after the victory in the war, Robert Clive wanted to thank God. But during the war, Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula destroyed all the churches in the area. At that time, King Nav Krishnadev, the advocate of the British, came forward. He proposed to organize a grand Durga Puja in front of Robert Clive. Robert Clive also agreed to this proposal. In the same year, for the first time, a grand Durga Puja was organised in Kolkata.
Durga Puja was celebrated for the first time to please an Englishman
The whole of Kolkata was decorated in a splendid manner. Durga Puja was organised in Purana Bari, Shobha Bazar, Kolkata. At this time, the great painters and sculptors of Krishnanagar were called. Great sculptures were made. Varma and dancers were called from Sri Lanka. Robert Clive enjoyed the ceremony sitting on an elephant. People came from far and wide to Kolkata to see this event.
As proof of this event, a painting of the British is found, in which the first Durga Puja held in Kolkata is depicted. A painting was also installed in the palace of King Nav Krishnadev. The Durga Puja festival in Kolkata was depicted in this.The story of the first Durga Puja is told on the basis of this painting.
The big, wealthy landlords were also taken aback by the 1757 Durga Puja event. In later years, when the zamindari system came into force in Bengal, the wealthy landlords of the area started organizing grand Durga pujas every year to show their power and prestige. People used to come from faraway villages to see this kind of worship. Gradually, Durga Puja became popular and started happening everywhere.
Other Stories About Durga Puja
There are many other stories about the organization of Durga Puja for the first time. It is said that it was first started by a young man from Bengal in the ninth century. There is also a mention of a scholar from Bengal named Raghunandan Bhattacharya organizing Durga Puja for the first time. According to another story, for the first time in Bengal, Durga Puja was organised by a Zamindar Narayan of Tahirpur under the direction of a Pandit named Kullak Bhatt. The ceremony was purely family. It is said that in Bengal, the Pala and the Senvanshis promoted Durga Puja a lot.
It is said that in 1790, kings and landlords organised public Durga Puja for the first time in Gupti Padha, in the Nadia district of Bengal. After this, Durga Puja also became popular in common life, and it became a tradition to celebrate it in a grand manner.
Rituals Performed During Durga Puja
Chokhudan: Chokhudan is the oldest tradition among the traditions for Durga Puja in Kolkata. Durga’s eyes are offered during “Chokhudan.” It takes 3 to 4 months to make chala. Durga’s eyes are created at the end.
Importance of Ashtami: The festival of Ashtami Pushpanjali is celebrated on Ashtami Day in Kolkata. On this day, everyone offers flowers to Durga. It is called paying floral tributes to Mother Durga. No matter which corner of Bengal the Bengalis live in, they definitely wake up early in the morning on Ashtami and offer flowers to Durga.
Two Pujas: The festival of Durga in Kolkata is not limited to pandals alone. There are two types of Durga Pujas performed by people. Two different Durga Pujas mean one is celebrated on a very large scale, called Para, and the other, Barir, is celebrated at home. Para is organised in pandals and large community centers. The second barir is held in the northern and southern areas of Kolkata.
Kumari Puja: Goddess Durga is worshipped in various forms during the entire Puja in Kolkata. During this time, Kumari is worshipped in front of the goddess. It is considered to be the purest and holiest form of worship of the goddess. Girls between the ages of 1 and 16 are selected and are worshipped with aarti.
Sandhya Aarti: Sandhya Aarti has a special significance during this period. In Kolkata, the beauty of Sandhya Aarti is so bright and beautiful that people reach here from far and wide to see it. People dressed in Bengali traditional attire add to the grandeur and beauty of this puja. The atmosphere of celebration all around binds them.
Sandhya Aarti is performed every evening during the nine-day festival. Sandhya Aarti rituals are performed amidst music, drums, nagadas, bells, and dances.
Sindoor Khela: Women play vermilion on the last day of puja, on the day of Dashami. In it, they paint each other with vermilion. And with this comes the end of this entire festival, the preparations for which begin months in advance.
Dhunuchi Dance: Shakti Dance is another name for Dhunuchi Dance. In the Bengal Puja tradition, this dance is performed to increase the power and energy of Mother Bhavani. Coconut jata and fibre (coconut coir) and havan material (dhuni) are kept in Dhunuchi. That is how the Devi’s Aarti is performed. The Dhunuchi Dance begins on Saptami and lasts until Ashtami and Navami.
Vijay Dashami: The last day of the Navratri festival is Dashmi. On this day, a plethora of crowds can be seen everywhere in the streets of Bengal. All those who worship on this day go to each other’s houses. They wish each other the best and offer sweets.
If you want to see the true and sacred beauty of Bengal, you must go to Kolkata in these 9 days. Just as Garba shines in Gujarat, so in West Bengal, Durga Puja is a sight to behold.
On October 1st, the Shubh mahurat is from 06.17 AM to 07.55 AM for Ghatasthapana.
Shukla Paksha Pratipada Tithi: The Pratipada date will begin at 03.24 a.m. on September 26 and go through 03.08 a.m. on September 27.
These five days of festivities include the following:
Day 1: Akal Bodhan and Kalparambha on Day 1 (6th day of Devi Paksha)
Day 2: Kolabou Puja and Navpatrika Puja (7th day of Devi Paksha)
Day 3: Sandhi Puja and Durga Ashtami (8th day of Devi Paksha)
Day 4: Navami Homa on Day 4 and Maha Navami (9th day of Devi Paksha)
Day 5: Sindoor Utsav, Durga Visarjan, and Vijayadashami (10th day of Devi Paksha)