"Dhaker Taale Komor Dole,Khusite Nache Mon, Aj Baja Kasor Jama Asor,Thakbe Ma Ar Katakhan..." many of you might have heard this song well if not then ask any of Bengalis how energetic do they feel when they hear this song, because this not just a song but this song means the beginning of the famous festival. Yes, you all got it right the famous festival, 'Durga Puja'. Well till now you had read all about the historical mythology behind the festival now let me share with you how do we all (Bengalis) celebrate this festival. So it begins with a very significant day Mahalaya, on this day we all do tarpan. Tarapan means offering food & water and worship our ancestors for giving us peace and prosperity. The next significant days of the festival are the sixth day (Sashthi), on which devotees welcome the goddess and festive celebrations are inaugurated. On the seventh day (Saptami), eighth day (Ashtami), and ninth (Navami) day, the goddess along with Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya are being revered and these days mark the main days of worship with the recitation of scriptures, puja, legends of Durga in Devi Mahamaya, social visits to elaborately decorated and illuminated pandals (temporary structures meant for hosting the puja), among others. The rituals before the puja begins to include the following:
Bodhana: Involves rites to awaken and welcome the goddess to be a guest, typically done on the sixth day of the festival.
Adhivasa: Anointing ritual wherein symbolic offerings are made to Durga, with each item representing a remembrance of subtle forms of her. Typically completed on the sixth day as well.
Navapatrika snan: Bathing of the navapatrika with holy water done on the seventh day of the festival.
Sandhi puja and Ashtami pushpanjali: The eighth day begins with elaborate pushpanjali rituals. The cusp of the ending of the eighth day and beginning of the ninth day is considered to be the moment when per scriptures Durga engaged in a fierce battle against Mahishasura and was attacked by the demons Chanda and Munda. Goddess Chamunda emerged from the third eye of Durga and killed Chanda and Munda at the cusp of Ashtami and Navami, the eighth and ninth days respectively. This moment is marked by the sandhi puja, involving the offering of 108 lotuses and lighting if 108 lamps. It is a forty-eight minutes long ritual commemorating the climax of the battle. The rituals are performed in the last 24 minutes of Ashtami and the first 24 minutes of Navami. In some regions, devotees sacrifice an animal such as a buffalo or goat, but in many regions, there isn't an actual animal sacrifice and a symbolic sacrifice substitutes it. The surrogate effigy is smeared in red vermilion to symbolize the blood spilled. The goddess is then offered food (bhog).
Homa and bhog: The ninth day of the festival is marked with the homa (fire oblation) rituals and bhog. Some places also perform kumari puja on this day.
Sindoor khela and immersion: The tenth and last day, called Vijaya dashami is marked by sindoor khela, where women smear sindoor or vermillion on the sculpture-idols and also smear each other with it. This ritual signifies the wishing of a blissful marital life for married women. Historically the ritual has been restricted to married women. The tenth day is the day when Durga emerged victorious against Mahishasura and it ends with a procession where the clay sculpture-idols are ceremoniously taken to a river or coast for immersion rites. Following the immersion, Durga is believed to return to her mythological marital home of Kailasha to Shiva and the cosmos in general. People distribute sweets and gifts, visit their friends and family members on the tenth day.
Dhunuchi naach and dhuno pora: Dhunuchi naach involves a dance ritual performed with dhunuchi (incense burner). Drummers called dhakis, carrying large leather-strung dhaks create music, to which people dance either during or not during aarati. Some places, especially home pujas, also observe dhuno pora, a ritual involving married women carrying dhunuchis burning with incense and dried coconuts, on a cloth on their head and hands.
So this is how we celebrate the most popular festive named Durga Puja. Lastly, I want to end this by quoting the famous line of we Bengalis which we generally resite during immersion "Aashche Bochar Aabar Hobey", mean that we will celebrate the festival like this or even bigger than this next year.
Happy Durga Puja to all Bengalis!!