Updated: June 18, 2020
Durga Puja, also called Durgotsava, is an annual Hindu festival in the Indian subcontinent dedicated to Goddess Durga. It is particularly popular in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Tripura and Bangladesh. In Nepal Dasara is celebrated as Dashain. The majority of Bengali Hindus and Assamese Hindus are in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura, and Durga Puja is the biggest festival of the year for them.
Durga Puja festival also known for the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura. Hence Durga Puja festival is observed as the victory of good over evil. It also is in part a harvest festival that marks the goddess as the motherly power behind all of life and creation.
Durga Puja is not only the biggest Hindu festival but also the most significant socio-culture event for Bengali Hindu society in these states. Durga Puja refers to all the six days during Devi Paksha observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami in West Bengal. Durga Puja is also known as Durgotsava and Sharadotsava. This time of the year is considered the most suitable to seek blessings of Goddess Durga and to perform Chandi Homa as Lord Rama was blessed with victory over powerful demon Ravana after getting the blessing from Lord Durga.
The festival signifies the birth of Durga with the blessings of the gods, as collective energy, to fight the demon king Mahishasura. He was blessed with immortality and could not be killed by any god or man, which is why a goddess had to accomplish the feat. During these 10 days, Durga would take a different form each of the days to fight the demon, and finally, on the tenth (Dashami), or last day, of Durga Puja, she would kill him.
This year, the festival will be celebrated from October 4th to October 8th. This festival is celebrated for a duration of 10 days, running parallel with Navratri.
Durga Puja during Devi Paksha is observed as Navratri in other Indian states. Although Navratri is also dedicated worship of Goddess Durga and overlaps with Durga Puja, rituals and customs followed during Navratri differ significantly than those of Durga Puja.
Durga puja is also called Navaratri Puja elsewhere in India, such as in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala, and Maharashtra, Kullu Dussehra in Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh, Mysore Dussehra in Mysore, Karnataka, Bommai Golu in Tamil Nadu and Bommala koluvu in Andhra Pradesh.
The puja rituals are long and complicated. Three days of Mantras, Shlokas chants and Arati (prayer) and offerings are made, which include Vedic chants and multiple recitations of the Devi Mahatmya text in Sanskrit. Durga Slokas which is also known as Devi Mantra praises Durga as symbol of all divine forces. According to the sloka, Durga is omnipresent as the embodiment of power, nourishment, memory, forgiveness, intellect, forbearance, faith, wealth, emotions, desires, beauty, satisfaction, righteousness, fulfillment and peace. The rituals that are followed during Durga Puja especially in the Indian state of West Bengal include: