We just had India’s most widely celebrated Hindu festival called the Durga Puja. If you were in India then you would have seen the festivities. Devotees install stages for the worship of the Goddess called “pandals” on the streets and market places – an absolute delight. Durga Puja is a festival that marks the victory of the Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. The festival also signifies the coming of autumn. The 10th day is called “Vijayadashami” or “Dussehra”. The festival lasts about 9 nights and 10 days (called Navratri) and is an annual holiday in India. On the 10th day, the idols of Durga are carried out in grand procession and immersed in the river. On this day, Lord Ram also killed the demon “Ravana” who had abducted his wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. An effigy of Ravana is burnt on the day of Vijayadashami.
Here’s a glimpse of the celebration of Durga Puja in India
The Goddess Durga
Statues of Durga being made at Calcutta (Kolkata)
The stage being set for the worship
Durga carried away for immersion
Durga on a stage
Durga Puja in Bangalore
Dussehra near the Red Fort in Delhi – Effigies of Ravana being burned
If you missed out on Durga Puja this year then you will have to visit India next year in 2015 in October. Although Durga Puja is celebrated all over North India and some parts of South India, the best place to go has to be Calcutta (Kolkata) – the capital of the state of West Bengal where Durga Puja is a major social event in the state.
Here’s an interesting piece of history for you! When India was under British rule, some British soldiers and officials actually participated in Durga Puja organised by influential Bengalis. But in 1840, the British Government banned its soldiers from participation. After the ban, the Durga became an icon for the Indian independence movement.