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Durga Puja Festival 2018 | Festival in India |Hindu festival

Durga Puja, which is also known as Sharadotsav is a Hindu festival celebrated all over India but most extensively observed in West Bengal.

Durga Puja also is known as Sharadotsav, is a Hindu festival celebrated all over India, especially in West Bengal. It is celebrated over five days in late September or early October. It marks the victory of good over evil symbolized by the assassination of the demon called Mahisasura by Goddess Durga.

According to Hindu mythology, Mahisasura had a boon of invincibility from Lord Brahma. This meant that no man or God could kill him. This invincible power made him evil. He began to harass everyone and forced the Gods out of heaven. To defeat him, all the Gods created Goddess Durga to defeat Mahisasura.

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The arrival of Goddess Durga’s Earth is recognized as Mahalaya, which indicates the beginning of Durga Puja.

The entire process of creation of the Durga idol (murti) from the collection of clay to the ornamentation is a ceremonial process. The festival is observed post monsoon harvest and the craftsmen begin making the statues months before.  

Clay, or local soil is collected from different parts of the region which forms the base. In Kolkata, one custom is to include soil in the clay mixture for Durga, from areas locals believe to be nishiddho pallis i.e. brothels, a place where no one is allowed to go.

On the tenth dau, Sindoor Khela is a ritual that is performed by all the married women who smear Sindoor or vermillion on the Goddess idol and then smear it on each other later. This ritual is performed to wish each other a happy married life. The Durga Puja ends with a big procession carrying the idol of goddess Durga that is immersed in a river or ocean.

Durga Puja calendar of 2018:

Mahalaya – 8 October 2018 (Monday)

Mahalaya is believed to be the day Goddess Durga came on earth. According to a ritual called Chokkhu Daan, on this day the eyes of Goddess Durga are drawn on the idol.

Maha Panchami – 14 October 2018 (Sunday)

Panchami or the 5th day marks the beginning of the celebration of the festival.

Maha Sashti – 15 October 2018 (Monday)

On Sasthi, a ritual known as ‘Pran Prathistha’ is performed. In this Goddess Durga is welcomed through prayers and songs and in the evening, the face of the idol is unveiled and the tradition is called ‘Bodhon’.

Maha Saptami – 16 October 2018 (Tuesday)

The bathing ceremony of nine plants, Navapatrika takes place today. These nine plants include— banana, pomegranate, turmeric, Jayanti, Ashoka, bel, arum plant, colocasia and paddy.

Maha Ashtami – 17 October 2018 (Wednesday)

Ashtami or Durga Ashtami is one of the most auspicious days. Disciples fast on Ashtami. Sandhi puja, which is considered very fortunate, is performed on this day during the time when Asthami tithi ends and Navami begins.

Maha Navami – 18 October 2018 (Thursday)

On Navami, Goddess Durga is worshipped as Mahisasurmardini – the suppressor of the buffalo demon. The puja begins with Mahasanan and Shodashopachar on the last day of the festival.

Vijaya Dashami – 19 October 2018 (Friday)

Dashami is observed as the day when the Goddess leaves the manly world and returns to her abode. Women offer the Goddess sweets and apply vermilion on her feet and hands and dance to celebrate the festival.  

The festival is an old tradition of Hinduism and has been followed religiously from centuries.  Though it is unclear how and in which century the festival began. Vedas and manuscripts from the 14th century provide guidelines for Durga puja.

As old and rich as this festival like all other festivals of the country it unites us all to celebrate the good in our lives and to shun the evil.