The season of festivals is upon us and we cannot keep our excitement in. The nine-day Navratri festival is one of the biggest festivals in India, especially in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. The eastern part of the country is geared up for the celebrations of Durga Puja. Durga Puja festivities coincide with Sharad Navratri; although the deity worshipped is the same, there are some variance in rituals. This year the Panchami was celebrated on 3rd October, Thursday. Durga Puja celebrations would culminate on Vijaya Dashami, 8th October, Tuesday. For these few days, devotees gather in pandals, worship the Goddess, wear new clothes, indulge in delicious delicacies and enjoy cultural programs.
(Also Read: Navratri 2019: Date, Time, Vrat Significance Of Sharad Navratri, Colours For All Navratri Days)
When is Durga Puja 2019?
|3rd October 2019||Panchami|
|4th October 2019||Shashti|
|5th October 2019||Saptami|
|6th October 2019||Ashtami|
|7th October 2019||Navami|
|8th October 2019||Dashami|
Significance of Durga Puja
According to some legends, it is believed that during this 9-day period, the Goddess comes down to her maternal home (earth) to be with her devotees. The Goddess is also dressed in beautiful sari and armed with weapons that are characteristic to her. She is offered her favourite bhog and prasad. The bhog that is offered to the Goddess is also served to everybody present in pandal during afternoon.The bhog typically comprises khichdi, begun bhaja (eggplant fritters), labra (mixed vegetables), payesh and roshogolla.
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Durga is also called 'Mahishasura Mardini'. According to legends, she killed the buffalo demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura won a boon from Lord Brahma. According to the boon, no man could ever kill him. Upon obtaining the boon, he started to think of himself as an invincible Lord and started tormenting everybody under his rule. He also troubled the devas or lords, residing in heaven. Feeling helpless, the devas approached Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Brahma together evoked Durga to kill Mahishasura. The ten-armed Goddess, in a long and dreary battle, defeated the demon on the auspicious day of Vijaya Dashami.
(Also Read: What Goes into Making the Big Bengali Bhog for Durga Puja)
Payesh, a close cousin of kheer is an intrinsic part of Bhog
Festive Foods Associated With Durga Puja
In addition to the bhog, people indulge in a variety of delicacies. The pandals are lined with amazing Bengali snacks and sweetmeats like fish cutlet, Mughlai paratha, kathi rolls and ghugni. One of the key highlights of Durga Puja is 'Ananda Mela', which is typically held on Panchami or Shashti day. In Ananda Mela, home chefs bring home-cooked dishes (Think: Biryani, patishapta, kebabs, Mughlai paratha, payesh etc.) and put it out in pooja pandals for visitors to eat and enjoy. Ananda Mela loosely translates to 'a happy fair'. On the day of Vijaya Dashami, people assemble again around evening, one last time to savour the final festive feast.
Here's wishing you all a very Happy Durga Puja!