What is Durga Puja?
Durga puja is a 10-day festival celebrated generally in the eastern regions of India such as Bengal, Assam, Odisha and neighbouring regions. It is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Goddess Durgi, commonly known as Durga, over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. It is the celebration of the victory of Good over Evil.
THE STORY ABOUT HOW GODDESS DURGA DEFEATED MAHISHASUR
Legend has it that, Mahishasura being the son of the king of Asuras and demon princess Shyamala, was automatically an Asura and therefore, an arch enemy to the Devas. He wanted to defeat the Devas but even though he has shapeshifting abilities he could not defeat them. After wondering for long he decided to meditate and invoke Lord Brahma to grant him a boon. He asked Lord Brahma to make him invincible and immortal who granted him the boon. Lord Brahma granted him a boon that Mahishasura could never be defeated or destroyed by a man, god, demon or beast. But there was something hidden in the boon. Lord Brahma has not said anything about Mahishasura being invincible against a woman. Mahishasura went on a conquest and defeated everyone in all three worlds. He became so powerful that even Lord Brahma had no control over him. So Lord Brahma with the help of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva created a Goddess. Goddess Durga! Mahishasura underestimated her, he did not even consider a woman defeating him as a possibility. When his demon army marched against Durgi, they lost badly. Then he decided to fight her himself and despite all his power, Mahishasura could not win against Durga. In the end, goddess Durga struck a three-headed Trishul right through his chest, thereby killing him! And from that moment on Goddess Durga was called Mahishasura Mardini- the destroyer of Mahishasura.
When was the first Durga Puja celebrated?
There have been many answers pertaining to this question. Some say Durga puja has been celebrated since the late 15th century and some say that it started in the early 16th century. It is said that the first Durga Puja was celebrated back in the 16th century. Numerous households conducted rituals and celebrated these 10 days at their home and the public was allowed to visit these places to celebrate too.
How is the Durga Puja celebrated?
The first 5 days of Durga puja is celebrated by many rituals which are conducted in households. The rest of the 5 days are spent pandal hopping. The entire city has various pandals designed and decorated everywhere in eccentric styles. The streets are decked with lights all over and loudspeakers playing traditional Bengali music. The best time to visit pandals is generally at night. Pandal hopping usually involves long walks and visiting various pandals in different areas. The traditional food served at bhogs include khichudis, payesh, luchee and mishit doi, not to forget the famous rosogollas!
Tell your kids all about this famous festival celebrated in Bengal and as a fun craft activity, get your kids to draw an idol of Durga Maa and colour it! You can also check out some really cool printables available online!