Durga Puja: With Shoshti, Bengal begins its mega celebrations
Under a canopy of mischievous white clouds scattered across the autumn sky, West Bengal on Friday began its celebration of religion and culture on Shoshthi -- the first day of Durga Puja, the biggest festival in this part of the world.
Kolkata (IANS): Under a canopy of mischievous white clouds scattered across the autumn sky, West Bengal on Friday began its celebration of religion and culture on Shoshthi -- the first day of Durga Puja, the biggest festival in this part of the world.
According to the Hindu almanac though, Shoshthi -- the sixth day of the Lunar calendar) -- began on Thursday evening, ushering in the religious rituals of the five-day festival that will take over every street of every town and city with the annual fervour till Dashmi (Dusshera in the rest of the nation). Thousands of Anattily dressed men, women and children, converged on the streets of the metropolis making rounds of different marquees, and gorging on sumptuous food offered by roadside vendors, even as the rain gods played hide and seek.
In Kolkata, around 3,000 community pujas and 5,000 family pujas are being held. Another 25,000 community pujas have been organised by local clubs, non-government and social organizations.
Festooned with lights, giant cardboard cutouts and clay figures adorning entrances to lanes, the city is decked up like a beautiful bride to welcome its patron goddess.
The regional meteorological centre here has predicted the likelihood of "one or two spells of thundershowers" in the city. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wished people on Shoshthi via twitter and Facebook.
The rituals of Shoshthi that began on Thursday included, Kalparamvo (the beginning of the Pujas), Bodhan (the consecration of Ma Durga's idol), Amantran (inviting the Goddess) and Adhivas (sanctifying the stay of the Goddess in the exact spot where the puja is being held).
According to the Ramayana, before attacking Lanka in search of his wife Sita, Lord Rama had performed Durga Puja in autumn -- a time when the gods sleep, according to the Hindu religious texts. So Lord Rama had to first waken up the Goddess prematurely, and as such the awakening in the autumnal festival is called "Akal (untimely) Bodhan" of the goddess.
However, mythology also states that the Puja celebrates the annual descent of Goddess Durga, the slayer of the demon Mahishashur, accompanied by her four children -- Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati -- on earth to visit her parents. The goddess, astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her ten hands, stays for four days to eradicate all evil from the earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva at Kailash on Dashmi. The festival will conclude on Tuesday, when the idols would be immersed by teary eyed devotees in the rivers, lakes and ponds.