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Festivals

August

The Parsi New Year or Pateti is celebrated in mid-August every year.

October

 

Durga Puja, West Bengal

Durga is worshipped in two forms - one the popular demon slayer form called ‘mahisasurmardini’ and the other ‘Uma’ the family woman, the mother of Shiva’s children and the daughter of Kailash Parbat.

Durga Puja is traditionally observed for 4 to 5 days when the Goddess visits her father’s home along with her children Ganesha, Lakshmi, Kartik, and Saraswati. Durga is urged by the Gods to kill a demon called Mahisasur (a demon who is half human and half buffalo). Legend has it that Mahisasur received a boon from Bramha who is pleased by his worship and dedication. The boon ensures that Mahisasur can’t be killed by anyone except a woman. Powered by this boon, the buffalo demon wreaks havoc through the realms of the world - Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld. He captures Heaven and drives the Gods out of their kingdom. So, the Gods appeal to the holy trinity, Bramha, Vishnu, and Shiva. Thus is born the Mahisasurmardini or the buffalo demon slayer. Shiva gives her his Trishul, Vishnu, his Chakra. The Goddess has ten hands and with ten weapons kills the buffalo demon and restores peace in the world.

The festival begins from Mahalaya, a week before the actual puja when the goddess starts her journey towards her father’s home along with her children. She travels in different vehicles like the jhula, the boat, and other forms. On this day, Bengalis observe a day of penance and remember the departed souls by taking a holy dip in the Ganges and giving a special offering tarpan to their forefathers. On the 6th day of Navratri called Mahasasti, the goddess finally reaches home and is ushered in with a special arti called bodhon like the one done to usher in a bride. Then the Durga puja begins and for the next four days different rituals like kolabousnan (bathing a banana tree), giving special lotus offerings, kumari puja or worshipping a non-mensurating female child, sandhi puja or special evening arti, sahoshropradip lighting of 100 earthen lamps on a banana leaf, etc are observed.