Friday, September 03, 2004

Durga Puja: Festival for victory of good over evil

In the state of Tamil Nadu, they have Navararatri celebrations. Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity) is worshipped for the first three days. The next following three days are dedicated to Saraswati, Goddess of learning, and the final three days to Shakti (Durga).

In this state, a pot container made of either brass or silver is decorated with mango leaves and coconut and smeared with turmeric and vermilion (kumkum). This container, which is known as Kalasam, is the object of worship here. Goddess Durga has also several names like Annapoorani, Gajalakshmi, Meenakshi, Tripurasundari, Kali etc. The idols of the Goddess Durga are taken round in procession around the temples. Married ladies recite Lalitha Sahasranamam to invoke the Goddess. This puja is done to gain prosperity and well-being of the family through the blessings of Goddess Durga.

Ayudha pooja is performed on the eight or ninth day of Dasera in South India. Owners of organizations and shops worship their machines or equipments, while other people perform pujas to their most prized possessions.

In most of the houses on the eighth day prayers are offered to Goddess Saraswathi, the Goddess of learning. Books of children are placed next to the deity in the hope that the goddess will bless them with knowledge.

Vijayadasami day is considered auspicious to begin new ventures in areas such as business, education, travel and so on. During the festivities, women are dressed in Kancheepuram saris. They also wear jewellery with jasmines flowers. Soondal (cooked pulses) is the most popular dish made during this festival.

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Durga Puja some legends

The festival is celebrated with intense enthusiasm in West Bengal. It is popular as Durga Puja there. Other whole state The festival is celebrated for a different reason here. The festivities last for ten days. The tenth day is dedicated to the worship of goddess Durga. Durga embodies ‘Shakti’, the life force. The idols are kept in pandals specially constructed for this occasion for a period of nine days. And on the ninth day they are taken for visarjan (immersion ceremony) in rivers and ponds.

As the legend goes, a mighty demon named Mahisasura had conquered Indralok (heaven) thereby forcing the gods and their king Indra to flee. The gods then approached Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the holy trinity in the Hindu pantheon. They, in turn, prayed to the divine mother Durga to intervene and put an end to Mahisasura’s tyranny, as the latter was bestowed a boon that his death would come only at the hands of a woman and nobody else. Goddess Durga riding her vehicle the lion defeated the demon king. Since then, Durga has been revered for her invincibility. Durga is also a manifestation of Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva.

Durga Puja is celebrated acroos India

In Mysore, Dussehra is easily the most popular festival. It is celebrated on a grandiose scale here. Elephants are decked up with robes and jewellery and taken in processions through the streets of the city. In fact, many people visit Mysore from all over the country to watch this colorful event. The palaces are also illuminated.

Women in Gujarat perform the Garba dance during the evenings and nights during the Navaratri (nine nights). This dance takes place round an earthen lamp, while they sing odes to gods to while clapping their hands. 'Dandiya-Raas' is another dance played with 'dandiyas' (wooden sticks) in which males also take part in larger cities of Gujarat. In fact, Dandiya dances have become popular for fixing marriage alliances, as this is one of the few times when males and females of the community mix so freely.

In the Kulu valley of Himachal Pradesh, the inhabitants of the hill areas celebrate with a grand ceremony. Folk gods and goddesses are taken out in processions

Durga Puja celebration

Dussehra (tenth day) is celebrated throughout India. It is celebrated as Navaratri in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, as Durga Puja in West Bengal. It is an occasion to commemorate Rama’s epic victory over Ravana, who kidnapped Sita. While the occasion marks the triumph of Lord Rama over the demon king, Ravana. It is also a metaphor for victory of good over evil. So when the effigy is being burnt, people are also trying to cleanse themselves of the evil within them.

In North India, on Dussehra or the Vijayadasmi day, effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and his son Meghnath are placed in open grounds (maidans). One person donning the robes of Rama, who arrives at the venue with wife Sita and Lakshman in tow, shoots arrows of fire at the effigies. These effigies are stuffed with inflammable material. So when the arrow strikes the target, there is a noisy blast and the effigies are razed to the ground and people clap and cheer loudly in celebration.