Durga Puja

In 2019, Durga Puja will be celebrated from October 4-8, with Mahalaya being on September 28. Durga Puja is one of the most popular festivals celebrated in India, especially by Bengalis. The celebrations span over 10 days, from Mahalaya (first day) to Vijay Dashmi (tenth day). While each day has its own significance, days sixth to ninth are more special. During the festival, Goddess Durga is  worshipped along with her children: Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati, and Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya. The idol represents the Goddess killing the demon Mahishasura. The Goddess is revered as a symbol of courage, kindness, love and power. She is believed to be both a loving mother and a roaring warrior who single-handedly defeated Mahishasura.

Why is the festival celebrated?
Legend has it that Goddess Durga killed demon Mahishasura and to mark the victory of good over evil, this festival is celebrated. It is said that the battle ensued for 10 days and 10 nights and that is how the time period of the puja is designated. It is also said that before Lord Rama went to battle Ravana, he prayed to Goddess Durga and the festival marks the same.  

How is it celebrated?
One of the most exciting parts of the festivities is the creation of idols, installations of lights, putting up of decorations and setting up of community pandals that feature a plethora of themes varying from Italian gondolas to France's Eiffel Tower. The pujo preparations involve everyone - from painters, potters and artisans to craftsmen, blacksmiths and cleaners, cutting across caste boundaries.

The pujo extravaganza is most concentrated in the state of West Bengal, with the epicentre being the capital Kolkata. People, decked in new clothes and finery, throng pandals throughout the day, hopping from one extravagant puja to another, praying to the Goddess or Maa (mother). Cultural events are also held during this time. It's time for families to celebrate together, feast and pray. On Vijaya Dashami,