Durga Puja: Navratri Puja
Navratri, the festival of nights, lasts for 9 days with three days each devoted to worship of Ma Durga, the Goddess of Valor, Ma Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Ma Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. During the nine days of Navratari, feasting and fasting take precedence over all normal daily activities amongst the Hindus. Evenings give rise to the religious dances in order to worhip Goddess Durga Maa.
1st - 3rd day of Navratri
On the first day of the Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room of the house and barley seeds are sown on it. On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 - 5 inches in length. After the puja, these seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from god. These initial days are dedicated to Durga Maa, the Goddess of power and energy. Her various manifestations, Kumari, Parvati and Kali are all worshipped during these days. They represent the three different classes of womanhood that include the child, the young girl and the mature woman.
4th - 6th day of Navratri
During these days, Lakshmi Maa, the Goddess of peace and prosperity is worshipped. On the fifth day which is known as Lalita Panchami, it is traditional, to gather and display all literature available in the house, light a lamp or 'diya' to invoke Saraswati Maa, the Goddess of knowledge and art.
7th - 8th day of Navratri
These final days belong to Saraswati Maa who is worshipped to acquire the spiritual knowledge. This in turn will free us from all earthly bondage. But on the 8th day of this colourful festival, yagna (holy fire) is performed. Ghee (clarified butter), kheer (rice pudding) and sesame seeds form the holy offering to Goddess Durga Maa.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Durga Puja is an annual festival celebrated in India and the greatest festival of Bengal. It is celebrated during the month of Ashwin of the Hindu calendar which comes on during the month of late September
Following the Hindu Solar calendar Durga Puja schedule falls on the first 9days of the month of Ashwin. The days of Puja are calculated on the basis of sun rise and sun set. The time schedules of Durga Puja and its religious performances are based on the lunar month which is divided into two halves; the first called the full moon phase and the second called the new moon phase.
The moon’s movements are known in traditional Bengali as ‘Tithi’. The ‘Devi Paksha’, the actual time when the puja is celebrated is a fortnight time period which starts on the day of Mahalaya. ‘Mahalaya’ falls on the new moon day of the month of Ashwin and from the next day starts the ‘Devi Paksha’. The day of Mahalaya notifies the home coming of Devi Durga. The tunes of Agamani, the welcome note of the Goddess fill the atmosphere.
This full moon phase is called the ‘Devi Paksha’ and Durga Puja celebrations start from the fifth day of the phase known as ‘Sasthi’. The festival continues for five days and ends on the day of ‘Dashami’ which is the tenth day of the phase.
Following Dashami on the fourth day, which is known as the chaturdasi, Lakshmi Puja is celebrated. This Lakshmi Puja is commonly known in Bengal as Kojagari Lakshmi Puja.
Lakshmi Puja is celebrated on the full moon night and this night is considered to be very auspicious. Thus in all the Bengali households this puja is observed.
Durga Puja Schedule 2010
13th October 2010 ---- Sasthi
14th October 2010 ---- Saptami
15th October 2010 ---- Mahashtami
16th October 2010 ---- Navami
17th October 2010 ---- Vijaya Dasami
Following the Durga Puja schedule certain offerings are made on the respective days at the particular Tithi when the Puja takes place.
On the day of Sasthi five types of grains are offered to the Goddess which is known as ‘Panchasashya’. Other things offered are ‘Panchgobbo’ which is five items obtained from cow and lastly ‘Panchakshoshay’ which is barks of five trees.
Fruits, flowers, clothes, sweets, sindur, alta and other items of a girl’s use are offered to the Goddess.
On the day of Saptami, Asthami and Navami bhog are offered to Devi which is later on distributed among the devotees as Prasad. Along with the bhog other items like betel leaves and nuts, sweets are also offered.
The mantras during the puja along with the beat of the Dhak make the festival more joyous and enthusiastic.
Durga Puja 2010 is on September 25
Durga Puja is the biggest festival in Bengal. This is also known as Dussehra and Navaratri in other parts of India. Durga is the Goddess of divine power against all evils. The story goes that Mahisasur, the Buffalo Demon, through years of praying, received blessing from Lord Brahma, that no power can kill him which means he is invincible. But once gaining this power he started ravaging the whole world and killing people. And finally he wanted to uproot the Gods too. The Gods, in dismay, combined their powers to create a beautiful maiden, and each placed his or her most potent weapon in one of her ten hands riding a lion. Her return in each year in the Bengali month of Aswin (September-October) commemorates Rama's invocation of the goddess Durga before he went into battle with Ravana. The traditional image of the Bengali Durga follows the iconographic injunctions of the Shastras. It is similar to the Durga of Aihole and of Mahabalipuram (seventh century). The tableau of Durga with her four children - Kartik, Ganesh, Saraswati and Lakshmi, representing respectively the Protector, the Initiator of the puja, Knowledge and the Provider - signifies the complete manifestation of the goddess.
Another legend has it that Lord Rama went to rescue his abducted wife Sita from the grip of Ravana, the king of the demons in Lanka. Before starting for his battle with Ravana, Rama wanted the blessings of Devi Durga. Pleased with Rama’s devotion, Durga appeared before him and blessed him. The battle started on the saptami and Ravana was finally killed on the sandhikshan i.e. the crossover period between ashtami and navami and was cremated on dashami. Since the period of this worship was different from the conventional festival time of spring or basant, this puja is also known as akal-bodhan or worship (bodhan) in an unconventional time (a-kaal)..
Durga Puja, the most happening festival of the Bengalis can be sensed with its spurt of fanfare on all the four days of the festival. This autumnal festival recalls the power of female Shakti symbolized by the Goddess Durga who slays asura to reestablish peace and sanctity on earth again. Bengalis all over the world during these days of Durga Puja rejoice to their heart's content reconnecting with friends and relatives. Durga Puja is an occasion when the familiar sound of Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh,the mild fragrance of Shiuli, gives a familiar tug to every Bengali heart.
Durga Puja is an important Hindu festival which is marked by worshipping Goddess Durga during a period lasting 9 days. Celebrations of Durga Puja are visible throughout the country especially in the state of West Bengal where the festivities take gigantic proportions. Many pandals (makeshift structures) are decorated during the Durga Puja festival in honour of Goddess Durga. Fasting, festival dishes, devotional songs, decorations are some of the main aspects of the Durga Puja festivals.
Durga Puja is a festival which epitomises the victory of Good over Evil. Today, the festivities associated with Durga Puja can best be enjoyed at the various Durga Puja pandals which come up across the country. These pandals play various music and devotional songs in honour of Goddess Durga and are aesthetically decorated to provide for an ideal setting to offer prayers to Goddess Durga.
Durga Puja Festival
Durga Puja festival is known and celebrated with different names in various parts of India. In Bengal, Durga Pooja is also known as Akalbodhan (untimely awakening of Durga), Durgotsab (festival of Durga), Maayer Pujo (worship of the Mother). Durga Puja festival is also called Navratri Puja in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi. It is celebrated as Kullu Dussehra in Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh.
Durga Pooja is celebrated twice a year, once in the month of Chaitra (April-May) and then in Ashwin (September-October). On both Occasions nine different forms of Goddess Durga is worshipped threfore called Durga Navratri (nine nights). According to the Hindu Calendar Durga Pooja festival starts on the first day and ends on tenth day of bright half (Shukla Paksha) of Ashwin month.