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Celebrating Durga Pooja throughout India


The Durga pooja forms an integral part of Dassera celebrations. Read about how it is celebrated in different parts of the country.


The festival of Dassera is celebrated to commemorate the triumph of good over evil. It signifies the victory of the goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur. It also marks the death of the demon Ravan, at the hands of Ram. The entire festival lasts for ten days, with each day having its own significance.

The Durga pooja (ritual worship) forms a major part of the festival. It is not confined to a single geographical region. The pooja is carried our with great fanfare, all over the country. Over the years, the celebrations have assimilated the local customs and traditions. As a result, the celebrations are now unique to that part of the country where they are held.


Maharashtra

In Maharashtra, the Durga pooja is a joyous occasion. A pooja is performed on each of the nine days of Navratri (celebration through nine nights). Each day, a fresh garland is put on the idol or image of Durga, without removing the garlands of the previous days. At the end of Navratri, all the nine garlands are removed together.

On the tenth day, young girls who have not yet attained puberty, are invited to the home. They are fed a meal of their choosing, and they are allowed to play games, sing, and dance. A rangoli (welcome sign) is drawn at the entrance of the house, in the shape of an elephant.


West Bengal

In West Bengal, the Durga pooja is celebrated with great pomp and splendour. The main festivities are carried out over a period of five days. The festive period is said to in commemoration of Mahalaya, which is the day on which Durga was assigned the job of defeating Mahishasur.

This pooja is also known as 'Akal Bodhan' or untimely invocation. According to Hindu tradition, Ram decided to ask for the blessings of Durga, before his battle with Ravan. He performed the Durga pooja during autumn, which is generally not considered an auspicious time. However, the goddess heard his prayers and answered them.


Kerala

The Durga pooja celebrations are considered as an auspicious time. Children between the ages of three and five are formally introduced to education during this time. Although, celebrations are held in the temples for all the ten days, it is the last three days that are considered most important. The Ayudya pooja is celebrated on Ashtami (the eighth day). On this day, all implements and tools are worshipped. Also, no implement should be used on this day.

Navami, or the ninth day, is dedicated to the goddess Saraswati. In every home, obeisance is paid to all the books and other forms of literature. People also visit the Saraswati temple at Kottayam during this time. There, they bathe in the mysterious holy pond, whose origin is unknown.


Kashmir

Celebrations in Kashmir are not as grand as those in the other parts of the country. However, Durga pooja is still a big affair in each household. Navratri is a time for fasting. Adult individuals fast during the day by not eating any food at all. They are allowed to drink water though. In the evenings, they eat a light meal or some fruits.

On the first day of Navratri, barley seeds are planted in earthern pots. By the tenth day, they grow to about five inches. People believe that a good growth of the sapling is symbolic of prosperity throughout the year. Kashmiri pandits visit the temple of the goddess Kheer Bhawani, on all the nine days of Navratri. An aarti is held on the ninth day, after which people break their fast.


Gujarat

Celebrations in Gujarat are centred around 'Ambe maa', who is one of the manifestations of Durga. Images or deities of the goddess are worshipped in households, as well as in temples. Public celebrations are also held in the form of the traditional folk dances of dandiya and garba. These dances continue for the nine nights of Navratri and are held in streets as well as large, open grounds.


How is Durga pooja celebrated in your home? What are the different rituals associated with the celebrations that you have heard of? Why do you think the celebrations are so different all over the country? To share your experiences and views, click here.


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