The most important and the most popular of all Bengali festivals is the Durga puja. It is celebrated throughout the state,
but with great grandeur in Kolkata. There are some ancestral houses in Kolkata where Durga puja is being observed over decades and even over centuries.
Durga puja is celebrated in the autumn months of
September/October. According to the Hindu solar calendar, it falls
on the first nine days of the month of Ashvin. It is the time of
the year when the weather is at its moderate best giving the air
a festive touch. Images of the ten-armed goddess are worshipped
in ancient houses and at pandals, erected specially for the Puja.
After the four-day ceremony, the images are immersed in the river.
A festival of colour, pujas, a variety of foods to stir up the senses
and of course the ubiquitous decorations, Dussehra (tenth day) is
an important festival of Hindus. The entire country celebrates it
with great zeal, though the pattern may differ a little from state
The day celebrates the magnificence and omnipotence of Goddess Durga
The legends say that the mighty demon Mahishasur, vanquished the
gods and their king, Indra, who subsequently fled, leaving behind
their kingdoms. They then approached the Holy Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu
and Shiva, who decided to destroy the atrocious demon and prayed
to the divine mother Durga to do the needful. Equipped with lethal
weapons riding a ferocious lion the Goddess in all her awesome majesty,
destroyed the evil Mahishasur easily.
Bengal celebrates Dussehra as Durga Puja craftsmen make beautiful
idols of Goddess Durga which are welcomed in the houses, as a daughter
who has come to visit her parents' home. The Goddess is ' Shakti
' the cosmic energy which animates all beings. The idols of the
Goddess are worshipped for nine days and on the ninth day, the idols
are immersed in rivers or ponds. The procession accompanying the
immersion include drummers and conch blowers.
message of Durga Puja is to burn the evil within ourselves and follow
the path of virtue and goodness. It reminds people to keep in mind
the instance of Ravana, who was a great scholar and ardent devote
of Lord Shiva, but despite all his might and majesty he was destroyed
due to his gross misuse of power.
festival that follows is Deepavali, the festival of lights. The
worship of goddess Kali is marked by display of fireworks and crackers.