A quick celebration guide
Durga Puja which marks Goddess Durga’s homecoming, is the most awaited annual event, not just for the Bengali community but also for many others.
Since you are unable to celebrate the Pujo outdoors, in the vibrant pandals this year, here’s what you can do to welcome the Goddess at home. Let’s keep the spirits high, just like the beats of dhaaks (the percussion instrument played at the fest).
What is Durga Puja
Durga Puja is a festival mainly celebrated in West Bengal, Assam, Odisha and Tripura. It coincides with Navratri and announces the advent of the journey of the Goddess from her marital home to her natal home. It also celebrates her victory over the demon Mahishasura.
While the festival is celebrated for 10 days, it’s in the last five days that the festive spirit really reaches its crescendo. The Goddess is worshipped in her three forms namely, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
Here’s how you can celebrate Durga Puja at home
There are many versions of the rites and rituals which take place during the five days from Sosthi (the sixth day) to Dashami (the tenth day, Vijayadashami or Dussehra). Here are some of the popular ones to perform at home…
On this day, Kalashsthapana or Ghatasthapana (placing of the auspicious pot at home/ in the pandal to appeal to the Goddess) usually takes place. The highlight of the day is the ‘agomoni‘ programme where songs in Sanskrit and Bengali can be sung.
2 Maha Saptami
This day begins with Pushpanjali or making floral offering to the Goddess and the ‘Kola Bou Snan‘ (bathing of the banana tree). If this ritual cannot be performed outdoors, you can gather banana leaves and give them a water bath at home. The Kola Bou must be placed next to Lord Ganesha in a decorative arrangement.
Next, prepare for the aarti (veneration) to perform and offer a mool bhog to Durga. Mool bhog (vegetarian only) is a special meal prepared exclusively for the Goddess.
3 Maha Ashtami
Ashtami commences with Pushpanjali and aarti performed by the young girl (kumari or pre-pubescent girl) of the house. When the Ashtami tithi ends and the Navami tithi begins, Sandhi Puja is performed. It is said that the Goddess opens her third eye to bless her devotees while they are worshipping her.
4 Maha Navami
The ninth day of the festival is marked by the homa (fire oblation) rituals and bhog.
5 Dashami or Bijoya
This is the day of bisarjan (immersion). The men of the households place the idols on a bamboo platform and carry it on their shoulders to immerse the Goddess in water. She is believed to return to her marital home of Kailasha to Shiva.
Devotees worship her with a bitter-sweet emotion before taking her for the immersion. Women smear sindoor or vermillion on the idols and also smear each other with it. This ritual signifies the wishing of a blissful marital life for married women.
Sweets like Naru (made with coconut and jaggery) are distributed and savoured with joy.
This year, gear up for a family Durga Puja or a virtual one as you offer the Pushpanjali and bhog from your home.