She came, she conquered our hearts and then left with her blessings leaving us with a void. A void that takes some time and effort to fill. But we wait. Wait for her to be back again. Next year. Amongst us 👨👩👧👧
She is our Divine Mother. Ma Durga. Goddess Durga.
She is also known as Goddess Shakti, a popular and powerful archetype that embodies the feminine aspect of creation. In Hinduism, Shakti is the divine mother who gives birth to and nurtures new life, whether a newborn baby, a brand-new relationship, a fresh idea, or a magical manifestation.
Although Shakti transcends the boundaries of gender, form and race, she is called the divine mother because she’s considered the source of all creation. Shakti, a name that means sacred force, represents the all-pervading energy that creates our universe and all the beings who occupy it.
Goddess Durga is worshipped in various forms corresponding to her aspects of benevolence and fierceness. She is Uma, “glow”; Gauri, “white or brilliant”; Parvati, “the mountaineer”; and Jagatmata, “the-mother-of-the-world” in her milder guise. The terrible appearance are Durga “the inaccessible”; Kali, “the black”; Chandi, “the fierce”; and Bhairavi, “the terrible.”
And why is our Mother so Powerful? According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga emerged from the combined energies of the Gods Brahma ( the Creator), Vishnu,( the Preserver), and Shiva( the Destroyer), in order to battle the demon called Mahisasura. As legend goes, the demon Mahisasura was awarded the boon that he could neither be killed by man or God. Even Brahma ( the Creator), Vishnu,( the Preserver), and Shiva( the Destroyer) also failed to stop him Therefore the presence of a feminine energy was required to massacre this demon that caused much destruction in all the three worlds – Earth, Heaven and nether world.
Goddess Durga was gifted different weapons by all the Gods, out of which the spear and trident have most commonly been depicted in her images. She is also seen holding the Sudarshan chakra, sword, bow and arrow and other weapons.
When she is back with us every year, we welcome her with Haldi. Turmeric. In Hindu worship ceremonies, turmeric powder is used to symbolize both inner purity and inner pride. Worshipers use turmeric paste to anoint statues and images of Hindu deities in religious ceremonies. Along with symbolizing fertility and prosperity in the Hindu religion, turmeric also represents purity.
The celebrations start from Navaratri and in the Northern part of India, devotees fast partially and abstain from non vegetarian food for nine days.
In Bengal, Durga Puja is the biggest festival and it starts from Mahalaya.
Mahalaya, which marks the beginning of Devi-Paksha and the end of the Pitri-Paksha (the Shradh or the mourning period) is an auspicious day for Bengalis, who celebrate it with much enthusiasm. Mahalaya is observed seven days before the Durga Puja.
While there are one too many folklore associated with the occasion, the most famous is Mahalaya being an invitation of sorts to the mother goddess to begin her journey from Kailash to her paternal home (earth), along with her children. This invitation is extended through the chanting of mantras and singing devotional songs.
This day also holds a special meaning for Hindus, who perform the ritual of Tarpan (offering). Men clad in dhotis go to the banks of the river Ganga and offer prayers to their deceased forefathers and perform pind-daan.
On Mahalaya morning people in Bengal start their day at 4 AM by listening to the devotional songs which is broadcast on radio. And the celebrations start 👯
The preparations though for Durga Puja start much in advance. And in Bengal it is not a religious festival. It is a carnival where people from diverse religions, culture and belief come together and celebrate happiness. And this is the uniqueness and true spirit of this country, India.
The culmination of Durga Puja, in the final ten days is what most of us get to witness. But behind it is a lot of hard work and months of preparations. Have a look 😎
It is also an occasion to experience creativity. Let’s go around and witness a few unique creations.
Although Durga Puja is celebrated throughout the country, the place to be in during this festival is Bengal and specifically Kolkata, the capital city. Because it’s here that you get to witness creativity at it’s best.
And Bengalis celebrate these ten days in their own unique style and culture which is very different from most other parts of the country.
Come to Kolkata, India to witness a unique carnival. It’s called Durga Puja.
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