Basanth Panchami Diwali Durga Puja Dussehra Ganesha Chaturthi Hanuman Jayanthi Holi
Krishna Janamashtami Makarasankranthi Nagapanchami Navarathri Rama Navami Shivrathri
Shivrathri Rama Navami Navarathri Nagapanchami Makarasankranthi Krishna Janamashtami
Holi Hanuman Jayanthi Ganesha Chaturthi Dussehra Durga Puja Diwali Basanth Panchami


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Durga Puja
Durga Puja is a nine-day festival, celebrated in the state of West Bengal, from the first to the tenth day in the month of Ashvina. This period is celebrated as Navaratri in most parts of India. durga puja Durga Puja is the most important and the most eagerly awaited festival of the state. It commemorates the victory of Durga over the demon Mahishasura. The form under which she is adored is that of an image with ten arms and a weapon in each hand, her right leg resting on a lion and her left on the buffalo demon.

According to the Markandeya Purana and Devi Purana, Mahishasura was a buffalo demon. After severe penance lasting many years, he procured a boon from Brahma granting that he would not be slain by gods, men, spirits or any aspect of nature. Convinced that he was invincible, he tyrannized the entire world, vanquished the gods and ruled in their place.

The gods appealed to Shiva for help. He suggested that the three great gods, Brahma, Vishnu and himself, should combine their energies to create a woman. She would be powerful enough to vanquish the demon, as he had foolishly forgotten to name women while asking for the boon. The three gods then combined their energies to create Durga, a beautiful woman with 10 arms. Her eyes shone like sunrays and her smile was as cool as the moon. Each god presented her with his special weapon arm. Shiva's trident, Agni's fire dart, Indra's thunderbolt, Varuna's conch shell, Vishnu's discus, Vayu's bow, Kuber's club, Yama's iron rod, Vasuki's snake, Surya's shield and sword invested the devi's ten arms and lion was to be her vehicle.
When Mahishasura heard of Durga's beauty, he wished to marry her and sent across a proposal. Durga replied that she would marry him on condition that he defeats her in battle first. Enraged, Mahishasura accepted the challenge and a fierce battle ensued. The demon fired a barrage of deadly arrows at her, used a variety of weapons, and transformed him-self into various animals to attack her. But Durga repulsed every attempt. Finally, using the discus Vishnu had given her, She sliced off his head. Flowers rained on the goddess as the gods rejoiced. Shiva declared that the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Ashvina would be celebrated as the great day of victory of good over evil.

According to local belief, Durga comes to the earth, her parental home, during this time. She arrives on the sixth day of the month and returns to her heavenly abode on the 10th day. For the 4 days that she is here however, she is welcomed and honored as a family would its married daughter.

Preparations for the festival begin many months in advance. Local artisans are involved in making beautiful clay images of the goddess. Traditionally the images were carved out of white Indian cork, a very difficult technique. Today, cork is only used to make her crown and ornaments. The idol is then adorned in a traditional red sari and ornaments, as befitting a married Hindu woman. Chandmala, agar land of white lotus-like flowers made using white cork, is an essential adornment. Kumartuli and Krishnanagar, two small towns on the outskirts of Calcutta, are very popular sources of Durga idols. It is mostly a community affair and almost every colony or locality in Bengal erects tents for the grand puja. Artisans dole out all their artistic and creative talents to create beautiful tents, which also include replicas of local buildings. In fact the celebrations are not just restricted to Bengal; Durga Puja is celebrated with equal enthusiasm by Bengalis living in all parts of the country.

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