Durga Puja: The Queen of All Festivals

India is a land of festivals. Staying a secular nation, there is no dearth of points to rejoice in this land of miracles. From Xmas to Eid ul Zoha, Independence Working day to the Cricket Globe Cup, there is rarely everything that Indians do not like celebrating. Simply place us to an event and we are all for it. But hidden among this prolonged listing of celebrations is a gem in the form of Durga Puja, some thing celebrated in its total glory in the Bengali neighborhood.

So, what precisely IS the Durga Puja?

Well, for the sake of clarity, Puja refers to a religious competition. Nevertheless, for us Bengalis, Durga Puja is considerably less of a ‘Puja’ and more of the embodiment of the spirit of festiveness. What specifically does that signify? Well, let us go back a few millenniums to remedy that question.

The custom of invoking the goddess Durga (or the mother, known as ‘Ma’) is initially thought of to have been completed by Lord Ram right before he went forth to struggle Ravana, as documented in the epic Ramayana. Nevertheless, the tradition lay dormant until about the late 1500s, when the landlords in Bengal took it up. It was lastly given its last kind in the 18th century as Baroyaari (or twelve friends’) puja, a term which last but not least came to refer to group sponsored Durga Pujas held in Kolkata.

In essence, all areas of India celebrates this time period, but in the kind of Navratri. It constitutes of 9 days’ worthy of of fasting, which ends with Dussehra, a day the place an effigy of Ravana is burned as a way to present that evils are normally championed by very good as Lord Ram experienced championed earlier mentioned Ravana.

In Bengal

In Bengal, on the other hand, the this means of these ten times are pretty distinct.

My earliest reminiscences of Durga Puja are that of waking up in the center of the night to pay attention to Mahalaya on the radio. It is a programme that has been airing on the very first working day of the Bengali month Ashwin for a lot more than 7 a long time and 4 generations of Bengalis, forcing them to wake up at 4 am, one thing I nevertheless do religiously every single yr on that individual working day. While the magic of the scent, the half awoken self and recognizing Ma is coming has relatively diminished with the many years, the concept of some thing so collectively powerful that it helps make a full neighborhood seem forward to it still retains a good deal of attraction nevertheless.

Ma

We treat Ma Durga as one thing extra than just the goddess. While it is accurate that she embodies the uncooked electricity (or Shakti) that overcame evil by slaying the evil demon Mahisasur (for this reason the time period Mahisasur-mardini), she is considerably A lot much more than just that. The 10 days that start off with Mahalaya signify her yearly stop by to her paternal household in Bengal with four of her kids. As these kinds of Ma is, at the similar time, a mom, a spouse, a goddess, and most importantly, a member of our family members. We pamper her, we regard her, we appreciate her and we adore her. She is additional than just a divinity.

To us Bengalis, she embodies our truest character. No make any difference where by a Bengali could possibly be, appear Durga Puja, he/she feels a relationship to his/her spouse and children.

THIS is what it signifies to celebrate Pujo (a colloquial expression for Durga Puja).

Frankly, it can’t be compared to everything else in the entire world. But, don’t forget the togetherness just one will get when browsing the loved ones, or the warmth for the duration of Christmas, or the sensation you get when you go to your family right after a 12 months absent? That is what Pujo indicates to a Bengali. It is a lot more than celebrating a spiritual pageant. The notion of Pujo is bringing everybody with each other.
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And what superior way can there be than a mom facilitating all that? We eat, we cry, we communicate, be joyful and rejoice a little something that is virtually unheard of wherever else in the entire world. It does not subject what you faith is. No matter whether a Muslim, a Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jain or something in involving (which includes atheists), if you are a Bengali at coronary heart, Durga Puja is for you. From visiting the tens of countless numbers of makeshift podiums (or pandals) for hoisting Ma Durga to acquiring a cup of tea in the middle of the evening (below a tree in the community store due to the fact it would seem to inevitably rain during Puja evenings these days, in particular if you are out at two am) to dancing throughout the idol immersion ceremony (named Bhashan), Durga Puja is anything that you have to experience at least after in your everyday living.