Lesser known facts about Durga Pooja in India
When we talk about Durga Pooja, the very first thing that comes in our mind is the image of a Goddess declaring the victory of good over evil. Durga Pooja is among the most celebrated festivals in India, especially in the regions of western India (Bengal). Devotees of Durga lit the streets with colorful lights from a month prior to the festival. From stage performances to crazy cultural rituals, one can witness the beauty of it and capture it till eternity. But do you know that in order to make Goddess Durga’s idol, the pure soil is begged from a brothel and is used in carving the idol? Interesting right?
This article will take you through some of the lesser-known facts about this festival which will leave your mind blown!
Different forms of Durga Pooja:
Do you know that Ramlila is just another part of Durga Pooja? Right after 9th day of Durga Navmi people from northern parts of India prepare Ramlila or a dramatic folk reenactment to welcome and praise life of Lord Rama and presence of Goddess Durga, Garba-Dandiya is played in the period of Durga Pooja or Navratri to celebrate or welcome Maa Durga in the western part of India, and as Golu or Bonalu in South and eastern India it is celebrated as Durga Puja. Many names but the festivals are celebrated to welcome and praise the glories of Goddess Durga.
Few facts about Durga Pooja
It is said that when a man enters a brothel, he leaves all his purity at the door of the brothel, thus the soil present in front of the door is considered purest form of soil, and much to our surprise, the soil used in carving the idol is begged from the brothel.
The most traditional form of the Goddess idol is known as ‘Daaker Saaj’. The silver imported from Germany was initially used for decorating the icon. And since the service was delivered by the postal process which in Hindi is known as the ‘Daak’ system so it uses the name Daaker Saaj. But when the war broke out in Germany, the export was sieged. Thus, the Bengals artisans in the frantic search of an alternative turned to shola. Shola at that time was widely available white pith which was later used as an alternative for silver for Durga’s décor. Though the complete story behind Daaker Saaj remains unknown, many locals believe that both ‘shola’ and ‘zari’ are referred to Daaker Saaj.
Do you know that the eyes of the goddess are supposed to be painted at the end of the process and that too in complete darkness in the attendance of only one sculptor? This is one of the most important ritual and thus is called Chokku Daan. Choku Daan literally means offering the eyes. The ceremony marks the beginning of the Divine Mother’s journey in the materialistic world. It is believed that when the eyes of the goddess is painted, she descends to earth.
Banana Bride Worshipping:
Kola Bua is celebrated during the Durga Pooja in West Bengal. The banana trees are draped with sarees and vermillion, carried on a Palki and placed beside the idol of Lord Ganesha. Because the Kola Bua is known as Ganesha’s wife and is thus adorned by a banana tree. On the seventh day of Durga Pooja, the bathing of banana trees takes place and are then decorated just like an Indian bride. During the ceremony, the priest tie the bunch of eight plants along with nine bunches of yellow threads to form Nabapatrika. The Kola Bua is carried on a Palki to the bridegrooms place. The ritual is exactly resembles an Indian wedding.
This traditional dance form is performed during Durga Pooja holding Dhunuchi in their hands. It contains the burning coconut husk with dhuno sprinkled on it- smoke keeps coming out of it. Dhunuchi is extremely hot but despite of that devotees spend the entire night dancing with it. Girls and women wear white and red saree and put vermillion on each other. It is an extremely important ritual which everyone has to follow in order to complete the celebration. Without this dance the Durga Pooja celebration is incomplete.
The anjali on the day of Maha Ashtami is considered to be the most important aspect of Durga Pooja. The day is started with pushpanjali and aarti in the nearby Pandals which is means worshipping the Goddess. All men, women and children ensure that they give anjali at least on Maha Ashtami, if they haven’t given on the other days. This day everyone wear new clothes and offer flowers to the goddess. People can eat anything apart from rice on the occasion of Maha Ashtami. It is believed that on this day, Devi Chamunda appears to kill all the demons.
Introduced by Swami Vivekananda, Kumari Pooja is done to celebrate and recognize the feminine power. Kumari Pooja is also known as ‘kanya pujan’ in north India. The young girls are worshipped and mark the 8th day of Durga Pooja or Maha Ashtami. Belur Math on the Hooghly River in Bengal holds the special attraction as every year the Kumari Pooja takes place within this place only. According to Sri Ramakrishna, little girls at the tender age especially when they are away from negative forces of this materialistic world, are demonstration of the Divine Mother. Little girls are bathed in the holy Ganga water, dressed in a yellow-red sari with golden border and are adorned with sparkling jewelry!
Sandhi Pooja is celebrated exactly when the Maha Ashtami ends. It is one of the most spectacular phase of the celebration which require 108 lotus flowers, 108 lamps, sweets, huge pot full of rice grains, bunch of clothes, hibiscus garlands, wood apple leaves, and vermillion for the celebration. All these items are offered to the goddess during the time of praying. It is celebrated at night, thus the fire is lit across the streets and Dhaks are played. Sandhi Pooja is celebrated because it is believed that during this time, the third eye of the Goddess was opened as she killed the buffalo demon.
Thus you see, that all the days of the festival hold a specific significance. They are celebrated with great enthusiasm and energy. West Bengal is the sole place in India, which celebrate Durga Pooja like no one else. Whether it be Diwali, Eid or Holi- one can witness the craze of Durga Pooja at an extreme next level. The essence of this amazing festival can be smelled by the beauty of the festival.