Durga Puja is one of the most important religious festivals in India. The ceremonial worship of Hindu goddess Maa Durga is an occasion for rejuvenation, get together of family and friends and the celebration of Indian customs. Durga Puja celebration entails 10 days of feast, fast, gift giving, and worship. If you are wondering about Durga Puja festivals, traditions and customs, read on.
About Durga Puja
Durga Puja is a ten-day festival, but people celebrate the most on the last four days, which are called the Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami. Durga Puja is celebrated on the month of Ashwin either on September or on October.
The people celebrated with gaiety and pomp especially in West Bengal as most of Bengalis have a strong devotion to Maa Durga, the ten-hands riding lion goddess and divine spouse of Shiva and mother to Ganesha, Jyoti and Karttikeya. Anyway, the week leading to the final days of Durga Puja festival are more pompous as the important rituals conducted on the seventh to the tenth day of the two weeks festival.
You see on the seventh day or Maha Saptami, the priest will carry Durga Puja to the big tent in a grand procession, complete with drummers. The Goddess will be placed in a platform alongside the idol of Ganesha so people can worship.
The next day, there is the traditional buffalo sacrifice day to remember and honor the victory of the Goddess over the demon Mahishasura. The devotees also start the celebration with the recital of the Sanskrit hymns in Puja Pandals community. They observed the tradition of offering anjali to the deity and the worship of little girls called the “Kumari Puja” the main attraction of the Maha Ashtami day.
Maha Navami is the main day for a lot of people as this is the time for merriment, dancing and music. That’s right, on the ninth day of Durga Puja, after the formal closing of the religious customs, the people spend the rest of the day partying and just enjoying the day.
On the last day of the festival, the people prepare for the grand send-off wherein the devotees brought their Durga idol to the nearest lake or river to immerse. This tradition is called the Vijaya Dashami. It is a beautiful tradition as a lot of people go to the river carrying the idol of the Goddess Durga to bade farewell.
Durga Puja Celebration
Durga Puja is a popular Hindu festival. It is a festival celebrated for ten days to honor Durga, the goddess of power. The celebration entails a lot of elaborate ritual, intricate ceremonies and merriment as the Puja for Hindus is about rituals, prayers and songs. Take note, today, Durga Puja is more like a social event and a feast, but the religious aspect of the celebration is not loss, which is why religious customs observed with gusto by the devotees like the immersion of the idol Durga. In fact, in the state of West Bengal, the grand send-off is a big event and the many pandals decorated to honor the Goddess Durga is evident that people love their religion.
But of course, like any other celebration the Durga Puja festival is not complete without the tradition of exchanging gifts. This coming Puja share your blessings to friends and relatives through exchange gifts.
In case you are wondering about what to give this festival, maybe the following gift ideas can help you.
Durga Idols – Giving someone an idol of Goddess Durga is a good idea. In fact, many people give idols to friends during Puja to wish them good fortune, prosperity and happiness. Many experienced artisans create idols yearly, so buying one to give as a gift is easy.
Dandiya Sticks – Every year, the market in the state of West Bengal gets flooded with decorated sticks because it is part of the Durga Puja tradition. The people use the sticks to play dandiya, so it is also a great gift option for close friends and loved ones.
Special Durga Puja Items – There are various types of Durga Puja items that you can give to friends and special someone, items like chunari, pooja diya and many more are great gifts and very practical. These gifts also convey your love and wishes for them as the items represent and honor Maa Durga, the goddess of power.
Sweets and Mithais – Shops are flooded with mithais every year as many people prefer giving sweets and different variety of mithais to friends and dear ones. You can buy sweets online or at a sweet shop near your home or office.
Decorative Items – Candle holders, lamp shade, wall hangings and many more are also wonderful gift ideas. Decorative can help ready a home or office for Durga Puja celebrations.
Greeting Cards – Sending a Durga Puja greetings cards via online or post office are a perfect gift as well, very practical and cheaper way to celebrate the festivity. Greetings cards are also one way to wish someone who are away and cannot join the festivity because they are living in another country. You can wish them good fortune, prosperity and happiness via ecard.
Keep in mind that e-cards are extremely popular these days as the receiver can get your message seconds after you sent them. Additionally, the e-cards are free online, so you can definitely save money.
Date of Durga Puja 2013
The Durga Puja Festival according to the Gregorian calendar lies between the month of September to November. But of course, the dates of the Durga Puja are according to the Hindu calendar which is somewhere between the month of September to October. This 2013, October 19 are the official start of the festival while October 14 is the immersion day.
By the way, October 4 is the Mahalaya day. It is a notable date because according to the legend this is the time when supposedly the Goddess Durga was invited to earth.
In 2014 – Durga Puja September 30- October 4
In 2015 – Durga Puja October 18-22