Durga Puja Celebrations

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Durga Puja Celebrations

Durga Puja, is the greatest celebration of Calcutta that has been preserved honorably.

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Durga Puja Celebrations
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Durga Puja Celebrations

The festival of Durga Puja starts with Mahalaya, the first phase of the waxing moon in Aswin. Thousands offer prayers to their ancestors at the city's river banks, a ritual called Tarpan.

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Durga Puja Celebrations
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Durga Puja Celebrations

A special pre-dawn program of readings from the Chandi and Aagamani songs welcoming the goddess are relayed by All-India Radio. This traditional program, conceived by Birendrakrishna Bhadra, has become an institution: a chorus of protests led to its restoration after a change was attempted one year. rnThe festive mood builds up as Dhakis (drummers) from the countryside starts gathering near the city. They beat feathered drums to attract the attention of local Puja organizers.

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Durga Puja Celebrations
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Durga Puja Celebrations

The construction of images start months back. Kumartuli, a place in north Calcutta, is famous as a place for expert artisans who uses clay modeling to build the images of Durga, Mahisasur, Kartick, Ganesh, Saraswati and Lakshmi. This is a wonderful form of art and part of a deep rooted culture. In the recent years, eminent personalities from the painting and sculpture world also did lots of creative work on Durga images.

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Durga Puja Celebrations
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Durga Puja Celebrations

Another group of people starts building a pandal ( a covered huge stage ) with paper, wood, bamboos, clothes and other materials. They come up with beautiful structures , most of the times they are so beautiful and real that, it tough to believe that these are made for only couple of days or a week.

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Durga Puja Celebrations
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Durga Puja Celebrations

Some pandals are built as replica's of world famous structures.

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Durga Puja Celebrations
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Durga Puja Celebrations

The city of Calcutta takes a different look during these three days, especially at night. Millions of people come to the city and line up before the pandals.

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Durga Puja Celebrations
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Durga Puja Celebrations

The streets are lighted and the electricians display all different kind of light shows.

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Durga Puja Celebrations
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Durga Puja Celebrations

Special trains, buses are available; underground metro rail runs beyond regular schedule. People from suburban areas come into the city and roam around through out the nights. Some people use the holidays to go out for sight seeing and travel Trains to tourists spots get reserved months before puja. Bengalis in other cities in India visit their relatives in West Bengal. Schools, colleges, offices remain closed during these four days.

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Durga Puja Celebrations
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Mahashashti

The inauguration starts on Mahashasthi. The main ritual carried on this day is the unveiling of the face of the idol of Goddess Durga. The rituals of Bodhon, Amontron and Adibas are performed before the commencement of the puja.

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Mahashashti
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Mahashashti

With the first rays of the sun on Maha Saptami (the seventh day), a tree is dressed as the Goddess Durga herself in yellow silk cloth with a red border. The tree deemed to be the Goddess then becomes the spotlight attraction for the rest of the festival. The priest carries the tree in a grand procession to the Durga Puja pandal (big tent) accompanied by the drummers to welcome the Goddess. A platform is set up with an idol of Lord Ganesha already seated there. The tree-goddess is then installed beside the God of good fortune and then worshipped.

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Mahashashti
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Mahashashti

The Kola Bow or Nabapatrika receives a holy bath, which is performed well before the dawn, on saptami.

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Mahashashti
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Mahashtami

The devotees of Goddess Durga start the celebrations of Maha Ashtami with the recital of Sanskrit hymns in community puja pandals.

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Mahashtami
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Mahashtami

They offer anjali to the deity.

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Mahashtami
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Mahashtami

The worship of little girls, called 'kumari puja, is the main attraction of the day.

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Mahashtami
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Mahashtami

In the evening, Sandhi puja is conducted, which marks the inter-linking of the Maha Ashtami with Maha Navami.

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Mahashtami
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Mahanavami

Maha Navami, the ninth day, is the main day of Durga Puja. The day begins after the end of Sandhi puja.'Maha Arti' that is considered a formal end of religious customs. Merriment, music and dance fill the rest of the day.

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Mahanavami
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Mahanavami

On Maha Navami, the navami bhog is offered to the deity. This food takes the shape of Prasad, which is partaken by the devotees.

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Mahanavami
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Bijoya Dashami

Dashami is the last day of Durga Puja, when a tearful farewell is offered to the deity.

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Bijoya Dashami
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Bijoya Dashami

Married women play “Sindhur Khela:, i.e. smear each other with Sindhur and pray for a long and happy married life.

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Bijoya Dashami
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Bijoya Dashami

This process is called Visarjan, wherein a grand send-off is arranged by the devotees.

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Bijoya Dashami
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Durga Puja Celebrations

The idol of Goddess Durga, amidst a long procession of devotees, is brought to the nearest river or lake, to immerse it. This event is also called Vijaya Dashami.

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Durga Puja Celebrations
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