13th October (Wednesday)
Ashtami Tithi- Wednesday, 13 October 2021
Beginning of Ashtami Tithi- 21:47 on 12 October 2021
Ending of Ashtami Tithi- 20:07 on 13 October 2021
In the Indian state of West Bengal, Durgotsav or Durga Puja is welcomed with full glitter and joy. It is an annual Hindu festival during which devotees worship Goddess Durga. This festival symbolizes the epic battle between Goddess Durga and buffalo demon Mahishasura. It epitomizes the victory of good over evil. This puja is observed in the month of Ashvin according to the Hindu Lunar calendar. It is known by many traditional names like Sharadiya Pujo, Maha Pujo, Akalbodhan, Mayer Pujo, Sharadotsav, and Durga Pujo. Refer to online astrology to know about the dates of the festival.
According to the Gregorian calendar, the festival falls in September or October. Durga puja is famous in other states too like Tripura, Bangladesh, Assam, and Nepal. It is called Dashain locally. This festival coincides with Vijayadashami or Dussehra. The victory of Lord Rama over Sri Lankan king Ravana is celebrated for who abducted Goddess Sita. Effigies of Ravana are burnt and the whole Ramayana story is enacted called Ramlila.
Stories associated with Durga Puja
Hindu Mythology says, Goddess Durga emerged out from the energy of all Gods collectively as a symbol of divine power or shakti. She emerged to destroy the unbeatable demon, Mahishasura. In Sanskrit, the word Durga means ‘the impenetrable’. Goddess Durga signifies ultimate power.
There is another legend related to Ramayana. Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga diligently before his battle with the demon, Ravana. He worshipped Goddess Durga by lightning 108 lamps and offering 108 blue lotuses. With her blessings, Rama rose victorious over Ravana.
During the festival, Goddess is worshipped in many forms like Durga, Saraswati, and Lakshmi. She is worshipped as Goddess Durga on her first three nights, as Goddess Lakshmi on the following three, and then as Goddess Saraswati on the last three nights.
The last day of the festival is called Vijayadashami. Devotees believe that this victory could either mean the victory of a person over his/her mind or victory of good over evil. This can only be achieved by worshipping these three forms of the goddess. Devotees fast and pray to Goddess and wish to win over all the obstacles that they face in their lives.
Before the commencement of the festival, the idols of the Goddess are made. It is beautifully decorated and puja pandals are also made. The idols are adorned with colorful clothes, jewelry, flowers, and red vermillion. The idol of Lord Ganesha is also placed beside her. Goddess Durga is considered as the wife of Lord Shiva, an avatar of Parvati, and thus, mother of Lord Ganesha.
On the eighth day, Ashtami, Kumari Kanya (unmarried teenage girls) are worshipped. This is the purest form of ritual. Halwa and tasty food are prepared that are served to Kanya’s.
In Bengal, on the last day, married women gather at pooja pandal to perform the popular ritual Sindur Khela. They smear red vermillion on each other the way we play colors on Holi. The goddess is immersed in the river to bid farewell. Families gather together to exchange gifts and for pandal hopping.