India is a land of festivals, one of which is Durga Puja, which is performed for five days in honour of Goddess Durga during the auspicious period of Navratri and ends on Dusshehra. Durga Puja is one of the most vibrant and lively festival held in India, especially in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. The capital of West Bengal, Kolkata, is immersed in the celebrations and festivities during the last five days of the Navratri, with Durga Puja Pandaals being set up in every part of the city to honour Goddess Durga and mark the victory of good over evil.
According to Indian mythology, Goddess Durga, an embodiment of divine feminine power or ‘Shakti’, emerged to rescue the world from the hands of powerful demon Mahishasura, who was blessed with powers by virtue of which no man or even God could kill him. Mother Goddess Durga, with the combined powers of all the Gods, came to Earth and defeated the demon Mahishasura on the tenth day of the fierce battle, the day came to be known as Dusshehra.
To mark the celebration of victory of Mother Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasura, Durga Puja is held from the sixth to the ninth day of Navratri, while the idol is immersed in a water body on the tenth day, i.e, on Dusshehra. Beautifully decorated grand pandaals, portraying various unique themes each year, are set up in each part of the city where Goddess Durga and other Gods and Godesses are worshipped during the Durga Puja days. The city is beautifully decorated and is the best time to visit Kolkata. The idols are immersed in a water body on Dusshehra and this marks the end of the festival.
The Navratri, followed by Dusshehra, is celebrated with pomp and gaiety all over the country. Let us have a look at some of the cities where Durga Puja is extremely popular and celebrated with fervor.
Here it goes –
1) Kolkata, West Bengal
Kolkata leads the way Durga Puja is celebrated in the country. It is an eagerly awaited festival and preparations such as idol-making begins a few months before the festival; where highly skilled artisans make the idols using clay.
Once you visit the city during the Durga Puja, you can feel the vibrancy, the city living and breathing the festivities. The lip smacking delicacies, especially the Bengali sweets are worth relishing. The atmosphere is so energetic and full of festive mood, that visiting Kolkata during the Durga Puja is an activity you cannot miss out on!
2) Ahmedabad, Gujrat
Ahmedabad is known for the ‘dandia’, a dance form which is symbolical of the fight between demon Mahishasur and Mother Goddess Durga in which the latter gained victory. The Durga Puja celebrations in Ahmedabad revolves much around the Navratri festivities and playing ‘Dandia’.
3) Mumbai, Maharashtra
Durga Puja is organized in Mumbai by the Bengali goldsmiths who settled there a long time. They leave no stone unturned in making the Durga Puja a successful event, with lavishly decorated pandaals being set up in some of the prominent areas such as Andheri and Santa Cruz.
4) Katra, Jammu & Kashmir
Katra is known as the ‘Navratri capital of India’, with devotees chanting ‘Jai Mata di’ and proceeding to visit the holy cave of Mata Vaishno Devi. The atmosphere at Katra is beyond description and one needs to visit the place to witness the religious fervor at Katra.
5) New Delhi
New Delhi being the ‘Mini-India’, witnesses a blend of Durga Puja celebrated all over the nation. There are around 1200 places in the city where Ramlila is held over the ten days and is definitely worth watching. Ramlila is a play based on the Epic ‘Ramayan’, which is performed by artists over the ten day period. There are variety of Durga Puja pandal set up in New Delhi as well, where you can witness the festivities of the Durga Puja.
Durga Puja is definitely a festival to look out for, especially for foreigners who are planning to visit India. The celebrations, the rituals, the lip smacking delicacies are worth experiencing and there can be no better time to visit the land of festivals!
An arts student at Allahabad University,he is an avid writer and also takes a keen interest in reading; his favorite genre being science fiction.
He plays cricket, football and basketball; his fidelity lying with cricket. He remains sanguine irrespective of the circumstances around him.