The grand festival of Durga Puja is just around the corner, starting from October 11 to October 15. This 5-day festival is a huge event in West Bengal. From pandals and social gatherings to colors everywhere, Bengal is a must-visit during this festive season.
Durga Puja is a part of the ten-day festival of Navratri, which is about to start on October 7. The Durga Puja generally falls on the sixth day but since this year Navratri is only nine days long because of the fact that Tritiya and Chaturthi are falling on the same date on October 9, Durga Puja is commencing on the fifth day, beginning with Shashti, followed by Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, and ending with Dashami (Dussehra) on October 15.
Where Shashti commences the festive season of Durga Puja, Maha Saptami marks the second day, also termed as Kalabau Pujan. On this day, we use a mix of nine different leaves and worship Goddess Durga.
This is known as Nabapatrika. The nine leaves represent the nine forms of Goddess Durga. The following is a list of the nine leaves and the Gods they represent:
- Pomegranate leaves- Goddess Raktadantik
- Asoka leaves- Goddess Shokarahita
- Banana plant- Goddess Brahmani
- Arum plant- Goddess Chamunda
- Colocasia plant- Goddess Kalika
- Turmeric plant- Goddess Durga
- Rice paddy- Goddess Lakshmi
- Jayanti plant- Goddess Kartiki
- Bel leaves-Lord Shiva
Maha Saptami also symbolizes the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. It is believed that during her fight against the feisty demon, she formed a group of 8 members, known as the ‘Ashtanayika’, and those nine leaves denote the ‘Ashtanayika’.
Maha Saptami Puja Method
The day begins with a banana plant (Kolabau), along with the nine leaves (Nabapatrika) being bathed in the holy Ganges river or any nearby river but before the sun rises.
This is known as the Mahasnan. After the bath, treating the plant like a bride, a red-bordered white saree is draped around the Kalabou or the banana bride.
The bride is then carried in a grand procession and kept aside the idol of the son of Goddess Durga, Lord Ganesha, who is considered to be Kalabou’s husband.
During the Maha Saptami, the state of West Bengal is decorated with pandals with Goddess Durga placed and worshipped inside. On this day, the devotees indulge in Maa Kalaratri Puja. Another state that celebrates the Durga Puja with full zeal and fervor is Maharashtra.
Legend Behind Maha Saptami
Maha Saptami is related to the story of Lord Rama, where Lord Rama, before commencing his war with Ravana, who had taken Sita with him, prayed to Goddess Durga for his victory.
The Puja was supposed to be done with 100 blue lotus flowers, which is popularly known as the Neel kamal but Lord Rama could find only 99 flowers.
To this, he offered his own eye because it was blue and this made Goddess Durga praise him for his devotion and she rained him with her blessings to help him win the war which he did. This battle began on the 7th day of the month Ashwin so it is called ‘Saptami’
This year Maha Saptami will be observed on October 12. The auspicious timing for this year will begin on October 12 at 9.49 pm and continue till October 13 at 8.09 pm.