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Durga Puja

by Rohini Chowdhury


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Durga Puja, the ten-day long festival in honour of the goddess Durga, is eastern India's most important festival. It is celebrated with great vigour in the eastern states of West Bengal, Orissa, Tripura, Assam and Jharkhand. The Puja is also celebrated in Nepal and Bhutan.Though a Hindu festival, the celebrations have a large secular component in the form of food, music, art, handicrafts and dance. A visit to eastern India during the festival is well worth it, more so if one can avail of bargain vacations.

The festival falls during the autumn, in the first ten days of the waxing moon of Ashvin, the sixth month of the Indian lunar calendar, though the actual puja or worship of the goddess is usually performed from the sixth to the tenth day of the waxing moon. These dates fall sometime in late September or October of the Gregorian calendar.


According to the Krittibas Ramayana, Ram invokes Durga in his battle against Ravan (see 'Ram, Prince of Kosala' for the story). Though the conventional time for the worship of Durga was Spring or Basant, Ram had to call upon the goddess in Autumn. Slowly, over time, the people of eastern India adopted Ram's autumnal invocation of the goddess, so that Autumn became the main season for the worship of Durga. The inauguration of worship, or 'bodhan', of Durga in the month of Ashwin is also called 'Akalbodhan' - an unconventional time for the invocation of the goddess.

The Spring worship of Durga still appears in the Hindu almanac as 'Basanti Puja'.

Read more...The celebration of the Puja

Durga Puja cont'd...  next page
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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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