Kolkata, Oct 7 (IANS) Aptly styled and full of enthusiasm, people in West Bengal plunged into merriment on Friday, marking the first day of Durga Puja – the biggest festival in this part of the world.
‘Sasthi’ or ‘Bodhan’ — the welcoming of the Durga idols — signalled the start of the five-day Puja as the eastern metropolis welcomed its patron goddess with the beats of dhaak (drums) and aroma of incense. A light spell of rain accentuated the festive spirit.
Armed with mobile apps, printed guide maps and selfie-sticks, revellers, cutting through class barriers, hit the streets of Kolkata, making the rounds of different marquees under heavy security arrangements.
The community pujas in the city number around 3,500 this year, while thousands more are observed in the towns and villages across West Bengal.
Chants of ‘Jai Durga’ and ‘Bolo Durga Mai Ki Jai’ reverberated across the state with every city, small town and village joining in the fervour.
The puja is usually a five-day event with Sasthi, and the subsequent four days – Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami – translating into frenzied pandal-hopping (visiting marquees) in new clothes, meeting friends and family and stuffing oneself with traditional delicacies.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wished people on Sasthi via a Facebook post.
Sasthi – the sixth day of the lunar calendar – also marked the beginning of the puja rituals.
Kalparamvo (the beginning of the Pujas), Bodhan (the consecration of Ma Durga’s idol), Amantran (inviting the Goddess) and Adhivas (sanctifying the stay of the Goddess in the exact spot where the puja is being held) – were performed in community puja marquees and households where the deity is being worshipped with zeal.
According to the epic Ramayana, before attacking Lanka in search of his wife Sita, Lord Rama had performed Durga Puja in autumn – a time when the gods sleep, according to the Hindu religious texts.
So Lord Rama had to first wake up the goddess prematurely, and as such, the awakening in the autumnal festival is called “Akal (untimely) Bodhan” of the goddess.
However, mythology also states that the puja celebrates the annual descent of Goddess Durga, the slayer of the demon Mahishashur, accompanied by her four children – Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati – to the Earth to visit her parents.
The goddess, astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her ten hands, stays for four days to eradicate all evil from Earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva at Mt Kailash on Dashami.