Durga puja has a huge significance in our life. She stands as an important symbol of divine power. Not only in Bengal she is worshipped all over India with glory in different forms. Markendeyo Puran most importantly defines the forms of devi, specially the 9 forms she is worshiped in 9 days called Navaratri. The Autumn festival we celebrate is part of the Navaratri. The whole atmosphere and nature reacts to this autumn festival and her divine presence is felt. This is my personal thought, there is a mythological base and the vedas and puranas cannot be wrong though through many controversies which I would like to avoid. To us ordinary people Durga Puja is an oxygen of the year. Durga resembles a power that we feel in our everyday life.
The onset of durga puja begins almost after the Viswakarma puja. This year festive spirit was almost very early after the Mahalayas. Many puja organization opened their pandals and artwork for the visitors so it was the start of the 4 day festival. Everyone gets prepared to greet devi durga after the Mahalayas. The form we are used to worship is Mahisasur Mardini. Mahalaya has a special feeling in every bengali minds specially the voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra in the radio for decades. The composition of mantras and songs. The composition use to go live in All India Radio Kolkata and had legends involved Like Bani Kumar, Pankaj Kumar Mallick and Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s slokas from Chandi. This is the spark we live on and marks the onset of durga puja. Mythology tells she is the mother and also she is Uma out own daughter as she is worshiped.
Everyone sees durga puja in his/her own eyes. Four mythological facts has common interference in this autumn festival. First is Akalbodhan the untimely awakening of the goddess performed by Sri Ramchandra to defeat Ravan and rescue Sita from Lanka. Second is Uma’s return to her home from Kailash as she is daughter of Himavat and Menaka. Third is Sati’s sacrifice as her father did not invite Sati and Lord Shiva to the Yagna performed by Daksha. This has a huge mythologocal significance. Fourth is the her win over evil power as described in Sr Sri Chandi over various demons like Chanda Munda.
The rituals that form the durga puja worship is quite methodical. On the sixth day of navaratri starts the Shashti which makrs the durga puja worship. The steps are Kalparambha, Bodhan, Adhivas and Amantran. This marks the start of puja which devi worship according to chandi. Ghat sthapan is an important part where the offerings are given. Bodhan of devi is done in the evening welcoming her. Saptami or the seventh day starts with the invoke of Navapatrika worship. This resembles the nine forms of devi. Ashtami marks the main worship for devi. Apart from that the nine forms of durga are also worshiped like Jayanti, Mangala, Kali, Bhadrakali, Kapalani, Durga, Shiva, Kshama, Dhatri, Svaha and Svadha. Kumari Puja is performed in many puja where are young girls is treated and worshiped in form of devi. then comes Sandhip puja the last 24 minutes of Ashtami and the first 24 minutes of Navami this is the highest level worship for devi durga it is believed that Devi Chamunda killed Chanda and Munda at that juncture to restore peace. Navami puja marks Yagna or ‘home’ performed with chandi path from Sri Sri Chandi. Bijoya makrs the end of puja and its time that devi returns to kailash wait for another year begins. This festival has a great social and economic factor for many people who look forward to this time of the year.
I personally just plunge into the wave of this festival and wait for another year begins. Truely as the mother comes homes its time for many of us to return home truly the festival of home coming.