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Durga Puja 15 October to 19 October, 2018 – Information on Durga Puja Rituals Story as per Bengali Calendar

Durga Puja is the biggest festival dedicated Mother Durga in Hinduism. The main pujas, festivities, sacrifice, and rituals are spread over five days. Durga Puja 2018 date and time is from October 15 to October 19. The Durga Puja traditionally begins on the Mahalaya in Ashwin month, a day when Chandi Stotram is recited as an invitation for Goddess Durga to descend to earth. In 2018, Mahalaya is on October 8 (in Bengali Calendars).

Durga Puja 2018 dates in India as per Bengali Calendar

October 8, 2018 – Shubho Mahalaya
October 15, 2018 – Maha Sashti
October 16, 2018 – Maha Saptami
October 17, 2018 – Maha Ashtami or Mahashtami 
October 18, 2018 – Mahanabami or Mahanavami (important pujas will be on Oct 17)
October 19, 2018 – Vijaya Dasami or Vijayadashami


Story of Durga Puja in Bengali Tradition

In Bengali Tradition, Durga Puja celebrates the arrival of Goddess Durga with her children to earth. She lives along with her husband in the Kailash Mountain and annually she arrives in Ashwin month to pay a visit to her parents and devotees.

During Durga Puja, Maa Durga arrives along with her children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesha.

There is great happiness when she arrives and sadness when she returns on the Dasami day.

Story of Goddess Durga and Mahishasura

The main story associated with Durga Puja is that of Goddess Durga annihilating Demon Mahishasura. The demon performed penance for years and got the boon from Lord Brahma that he would only be killed by a woman.

After getting the boon, Mahishasura started his reign of terror. He removed all forms of Dharma. The universe was under the grip of Adharma.

To defeat the demon, all the Gods of the universe contributed their power and from the accumulated power appeared Mother Goddess Durga. She then took numerous forms and annihilated the demon army, its main generals and finally the buffalo-headed Mahishasura.

Thus, Durga Puja is commemorating the victory of righteousness over evil.

Hindu Scripture on Which Durga Puja is Based

Durga Saptasati, which is part of Markandeya Purana, is the scripture on which Durga Puja is based. There are 700 slokas and it was composed by Lord Brahma, Rishi Vasishta and Rishi Vishwamitra. Saptasati indicates the 700 shlokas.

Durga Puja Symbolism 

To gain noble virtues, all evil tendencies in the mind must be destroyed. This destruction is represented by Goddess Durga. Durga is Durgati Harini” – She removes our evil tendencies. This is why She is called Mahishasura Mardini, the destroyer of Mahisasura (demon), mahisha meaning ‘buffalo.’ Isn’t there a buffalo in our minds as well?

The buffalo stands for tamoguna, the quality of laziness, darkness, ignorance, and inertia. We have all these qualities and they crop up from time to time. Although we may have a lot of energy and potential inside us, we prefer to do nothing – just like the buffalo that loves only to lie in pools of water.

In the Puranic story, Durga Devi’s killing of the Mahisha demon is symbolically the destruction of the tamoguna with us that is very difficult to destroy.

In the Durga Devi Havana (sacrifice) – Durga Puja – we invoke that divine power within us to destroy our animalistic tendencies. (Swami Tejomayananda)

Important Hindu Gods Worshipped During Durga Puja

During Durga Puja, four Hindu deities – Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswati and Lord Kartikeya – are worshipped along with Goddess Durga in the Puja Pandal.

In the Puja area, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are placed to the right of Goddess Durga idol. Goddess Saraswati and Lord Kartikeya are placed to the left of Durga idol.

Goddess Lakshmi is portrayed as standing on a lotus.

Goddess Saraswati is depicted as standing on a lotus and holding a Veena.

Lord Ganesha is shown in sitting posture.

Lord Kartikeya is shown mounted on a peacock.

Why is Durga Puja Observed?

Goddess Durga symbolizes the unity of all the good powers on earth. She removes the dirt accumulated in human mind due to Tamas (inertia) and Rajas (passion). During her annual arrival, she removes all that is evil and Adharma. She blesses her devotees with Sattva (Purity).

Her annual arrival symbolizes destruction of evil and ushering in of peace, happiness, prosperity, fertility, abundance of food and good health.

Information on Durga Puja Rituals as per Bengali Calendar

Durga Puja Begins with Mahalaya

Mahalaya (No moon or Amavasya day before Durga Puja) is observed seven days before the Durga Puja festivities begin. It heralds the advent of Goddess Durga to earth. Mahalaya marks the beginning of ‘Devipaksha’ and the countdown to Durga Puja.

Mahalaya is an invitation for Goddess Durga to descend on to the earth. The day is spent in chanting mantras and singing bhajans. The most famous being the – ‘Jago Tumi Jago.’ The Chandi Kavya or Chandi Stotram is recited on the day.

Mahalaya is also the last day of the Pitru Paksha. Prayers are offered to dead ancestors on this day during pre-dawn hours through the Tarpan ritual.

Durga Puja Sashti - Sixth Day

Durga Puja Sashti is observed on the sixth after Mahalaya (no moon) in the Bengali month Aashin (September – October). 

On the Shashti day, Kalash is prepared and it is kept in the house and with it begins rituals and celebrations.

Goddess Durga is welcomed on Sashti day to Puja pandals. Kalparambho is the beginning of Durga Puja and on the Sashti day, the face of the Goddess Durga Murti (Idol) is unveiled.

Other rituals observed on the day include:
  • Bodhon is the consecration (invocation) of Goddess Durga Murti (Idol).
  • Amontron is inviting Goddess Durga.
  • Adibas is sanctifying the stay of Goddess Durga in the pandal or puja arena.
  • Nabapatrika puja also begins on the sixth day.

Nabapatrika in Durga Puja

Nabapatrika, also known as Nava Patrika, are the nine leaves worshipped during Durga Puja. It begins on the Sashti day. The leaves are also known as Nine Durgas. Nabapatrika symbolize nine goddess worshipped in Hinduism. (More about the nine leaves with photos.)

Ashta Shakti - Eight Forms of Durga Worshipped 

Ashta Shakti, eight shaktis, are the various forms of Goddess Durga worshipped during Durga Puja. They include:
  1. Brahmani
  2. Maheshwari
  3. Koumari
  4. Vaishnabi
  5. Aindri
  6. Joggobarahi
  7. Narshinghi
  8. Chandrika

Durga Puja Saptami - Seventh Day

Mahasaptami, or Durga Puja Saptami, is observed on the seventh day after Mahalaya. Pran Prathishta, Kolabou, Bodhan are the most important rituals performed on the day.

During dawn, just as the first light of sun descents on earth, Kolabau or Kola Bou rituals are performed. The Pran Prathishta, or life, is breathed into the idol of Goddess Durga. The ritual is performed on the Ghats of a river or pond. The idol of Goddess Durga is not taken to the pond instead; life is symbolically transferred from water to plantain tree.

The Kolabau ritual is an elaborate one, the stem of the banana tree is draped in a new red and white saree, and the leaves are left uncovered.

Some of the common rituals performed on the day are Vishnusmaran, Dhayan, Sankalpa, Abahan and Shorahpacharey Puja.

Durga Ashtami during Durga Puja - Eighth Day

Some of the important rituals dedicated to Goddess Durga are performed on the day. Some devotees keep a fast on the day.

Some of the common rituals performed on the day are Vishnusmaran, Dhayan, Sankalpa, Abahan and Shorahpacharey Puja.

Special pujas and worship on the eighth day include Ugrachandadi puja, Chatushashthi Yogini puja – 64 yoginis, worship of numerous other goddesses including Koti Yogini, Nava Durga, tutelary deities, nine forms of Bhairava, and multiple forms of Durga. Pujas are also offered to Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Mahishasura.

Durga Puja Ashtami ends with Sandhi Puja, which is performed at the conjuncture of Ashtami and Navami tithi.

Sandhi puja involves offering of large amount of flowers chanting of Chandipath, offering of 108 lamps and final aarti.

Navami (Nabami) Puja during Durga Puja - Ninth Day

All invocation rituals and common rituals are performed on the day.

Pushpanjali – flower offering.

Balidan (performed sometimes on Ashtami) – symbolically banana, cucumber or pumpkin is sacrificed. The original meaning of the sacrifice is offering Tamas (inertia) and Rajas (passion) to the Goddess and retaining Sattva (purity) with the blessing of Maa Durga.

Special havan is performed on the ninth day – Vishnu, Brahma, Agni, the rulers of the eight direction, navgrahas, family deities etc. An important homa performed on the day is Mahabyahrti – for the welfare of the cosmos.

Kumari Puja – A girl child between age one to eight years is symbolically worshipped as the representative of Goddess Durga.

Durga Puja concludes on Dasami - Tenth Day

Maa Durga takes adieu of her devotees on earth and starts her journey towards her abode in Kailash Mountain.

A special sweet treat is offered to her.

Forgiveness is sort for sins committed. People give an emotional farewell to Goddess Durga and seek her blessings for a peace and prosperous year.

Panchagreser (vital breath) puja and Durga stuti are performed on the day.

The Dasami rituals end with Visarjan or immersion of the murti of Goddess Durga in river, lake or pond.

Puja Pandals

Durga Puja pandals are either built according to specific themes or kept simple. The themes are either spiritual, religious, based on temples, social relevance, political, science, arts, and music and on a famous hit film or subject in the year.

Pandal hopping is an important part of Durga puja celebrations. Each year pandals of different Durga Puja committees make a serious effort to outsmart the other.

Attention to detail and the epic art direction makes many pandals stand apart from the other.

Oldest Community Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata City

The Durga Puja Pandal and ‘baroari’ puja of Bhowanipur Sanatan Dharmatsahini Sabha on Balaram Bose Ghat Road in Bhowanipore is the oldest community Durga Puja in Kolkata. The first community Durga Puja was held here in 1910 when the city was Calcutta and was the capital of British India.

Durga Puja Starts on Rath Yatra Day for Mitra Sammelani Club in Siliguri

Durga Puja at Siliguri organized by Mitra Sammelani Club begins on the Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra day. This is 90 days before the original Durga Puja.

The Mitra Sammelani committee founded in 1909 organizes the puja at the Chandimandap at Sisir Bhaduri Sarani in Khudirampally in Silguri and follows the rituals of their Puja strictly.

Durga Puja here begins with Katham puja (worship of the frame) on the Rathyatra day every year. The idol-maker carries the priest to the Chandi mandap and performs the ritual, which marks the beginning of Durga Puja.

Dhaak – Dhunuchi Dance – Food

Dhaaks are traditional drums that are an essential part of Durga Puja festivities. The foot-tapping beat that the dhaakis create in the traditional drum has become synonymous with Durga Puja.

Dhunuchi Dance is a high-energy dance performed by both men and women before the murti of Goddess Durga. They hold earthen pot with smoldering incense. (More details about Dhunuchi Dance)

Cultural programs, a variety of food including traditional food items, lights, fairs and get-together of friends, neighbors, relatives and family members sums up Durga Puja.

Sindoor Khela and Kolakuli during Durga Puja Visarjan

Sindoor Khela and Kolakuli are two important aspects of Durga Puja visarjan – bidding farewell to Goddess Durga.

In the ceremony called Sindoor Khela, married women bid adieu to Goddess Durga, after draping her in new clothes and offering sweets to her. The women then play with vermillion. The term Sindoor Khela comes from the playing with vermillion.

After bidding farewell to Maa Durga, the women hug and console each other in Kolakuli.

For the ritual, women wear traditional Bengali saree, sakha pola (the typical red and white bangles that Bengali married women wear) in both hands, and a large red bindi on the forehead.

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