Durga Puja is one of the most famous festivals celebrated in West Bengal and particularly in Kolkata, in honour of Goddess Durga during the period of Navaratri.
Durga is honored with extreme fervor during the annual Navratri festival, which marks the beginning of autumn and occurs typically in September or October. Durga puja is celebrated commonly by Bangladesh’s Hindu community. Some Bengali Muslims also take part in the festivities. In Dhaka, the Dhakeshwari Temple puja attracts visitors and devotees. In Nepal, the festivities are celebrated as Dashain.Beyond south Asia, Durga puja is organised by Bengali communities in the United States of America. Durga puja celebrations have also been started in Hong Kong by the Bengali diaspora.Navratri means “nine nights” in Sanskrit, and on each day of the festival, nine different forms of shakti or Mother Durga are worshipped. In West Bengal, this festival occurs primarily on days six through ten of Navratri. On the tenth day, Durga’s victory over evil is celebrated as Vijayadashami in Bengal and Dussehra in Hindi (in North India, Dussehra also commemorates Rama’s vistory over the demon Ravana as described in the Ramayana). Durga Puja also celebrates the annual visit of Durga and her children to her ancestral home, and her reunion with Shiva on Vijayadashami.Durga Puja or Durgotsava and is the largest festival of the year for Bengali Hindus. In the months leading up to Durga Puja, highly decorated, life-sized idols of Durga that depict her slaying Mahishasura are created by potters out of clay.In large open spaces around West Bengal, elaborate pandals, or temporary temples made of bamboo and cloth, are created to house the idols.Annual festival of Durga Puja soon became the most celebrated festival and as a day for merriment with friends, relatives, neighbors and acquaintances.The idols are worshipped for five days and then carried in magnificent procession to a local river for immersion, symbolizing Durga’s reunion with Shiva.The five-day period of worship is a time of personal introspection and bodily purification for devotees, with many avoiding meat, alcohol, onions, wheat and grains. The end of Navratri and Durga Puja further marks an auspicious time for starting new activities or business ventures.