Bajlo Tomar Aalor Benu
Ma Durga the signs of your arrival dawns like a ray of light from a flute.. You come, shower your blessings, conquer our hearts and then leave us with a void. A void that takes some time and efforts to fill. But we have waited. Waited with bated breath for twelve months for you to be back with us. For us in Bengal you are Uma, the daughter who is coming home to your maternal house with your children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh & Kartik. To our home.
Ma Durga. She is our Divine Mother. Goddess Durga. She is also known as Goddess Shakti, the mother who gives birth to and nurtures new life, whether a newborn baby, a brand-new relationship, a fresh idea, or a magical manifestation.
Although Shakti transcends the boundaries of gender, form and race, she is called the divine mother because she’s considered the source of all creation. Shakti, a name that means sacred force, represents the all-pervading energy that creates our universe and all the beings who occupy it.
Goddess Durga is worshipped in various forms corresponding to her aspects of benevolence and fierceness. She is Uma, “glow”; Gauri, “white or brilliant”; Parvati, “the mountaineer”; and Jagatmata, “the-mother-of-the-world” in her milder guise. The terrible appearance are Durga “the inaccessible”; Kali, “the black”; Chandi, “the fierce”; and Bhairavi, “the terrible.”
My earliest memory of Durga Puja is always associated with a Shiuli ( Night Jasmine) flower tree in our home which was next to our entrance gate. Every morning my father would wake me up before sunrise and we two would pluck most of the flowers in the branches projecting outside the boundary, before neighbors could come and whack it all. And let the ones inside remain for the awesome fragrance it spread.
And why is our Mother so Powerful?
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga emerged from the combined energies of the Gods Brahma ( the Creator), Vishnu,( the Preserver), and Shiva( the Destroyer), in order to battle the demon called Mahisasura. As legend goes, the demon Mahisasura was awarded the boon that he could neither be killed by man or God. Even Brahma ( the Creator), Vishnu,( the Preserver), and Shiva( the Destroyer) also failed to stop him Therefore the presence of a feminine energy was required to massacre this demon that caused much destruction in all the three worlds – Earth, Heaven and nether world.
Goddess Durga was gifted different weapons by all the Gods, out of which the spear and trident have most commonly been depicted in her images. She is also seen holding the Sudarshan chakra, sword, bow and arrow and other weapons.
The celebrations start from Navaratri and in the Northern part of India, devotees fast partially and abstain from non vegetarian food for nine days. Today is the third day of the Sharadiya Navaratra (the nine nights of autumn), during which the Navadurga, the nine forms of the Hindu goddess Durga are worshipped. The names of the Navadurga goddesses are Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri. Check out this beautifully made video which explains the story so well. Thanks to the creators.
Durga Puja in Bengal
Although Durga Puja is celebrated throughout the country, Bengal & specifically Kolkata is the place to be if you wish to experience the real essence of this festival. In Bengal Durga Puja is the biggest festival and it starts from Mahalaya.
Mahalaya, which marks the beginning of Devi-Paksha and the end of the Pitri-Paksha (the Shradh or the mourning period) is an auspicious day for Bengalis, who celebrate it with much enthusiasm. Mahalaya is normally observed seven days before the Durga Puja but this year it was more than one month back.
While there are many folklore associated with the occasion, the most famous is Mahalaya being an invitation of sorts to the mother goddess to begin her journey from Kailash to her paternal home (earth), along with her children. This invitation is extended through the chanting of mantras and singing devotional songs. This day also holds a special meaning for Hindus, who perform the ritual of Tarpan (offering). Men clad in dhotis go to the banks of the river Ganga and offer prayers to their deceased forefathers and perform pind-daan. Here is a refreshing way to experience Mahalaya.
Ma Durga Idols
Durga Puja in Bengal is an opportunity to experience amazing creativity. When it comes to depicting art through idols and pandals, there are no boundaries.
In Bengal we have not stuck to traditions and have always encouraged innovations and experimentation. That’s the reason Durga Puja here has evolved to become a socio-cultural festival rather than a religious festival, where members of every faith participate with equal enthusiasm. Have a look at how we celebrated a couple of years back in Kolkata. And showed the world how to be inclusive.
Bengalis celebrate these ten days in their own unique style and culture which is very different from most other parts of the country. While most from other parts of the country fast and have vegetarian food, we gorge on best of non vegetarian food. And do you know what is the reason. Check this out.
Come to Kolkata, India to witness a unique carnival. It’s called Durga Puja. And experience the spirit of Kolkata through this wonderfully made presentation.
Festive greetings to all our friends and readers from across the globe. Celebrate, but do exercise caution. Wish you happy times ahead.