The Worship of Durga

The Stripe Team
Published : 27 Oct 2015, 06:58 PM
Updated : 27 Oct 2015, 06:58 PM

Durga Puja, or the 'worship of Durga', is composed of the important religious rites and festival performed by the Hindus of Bengal.

The festival has a rich cultural overtone in the region of Bengal and dates back to ancient times. Hinduism is followed by 9% of Bangladesh's population.

The Puja is annually observed over the course of ten days in autumn, with festivities increasing in fervour towards the final days.

Durga is the ten-armed mother goddess who symbolically protects her adherents from evil from all ten directions.

The Puja marks the victory of the goddess Durga against the demon Mahishasura in a symbolic clash between the forces of good and evil.

Hindus believe the coming of Durga vanquishes evils that beset a worshipper in their community and their personal lives.

Pandals are temporary structures built to house the altar of Durga. Constructions are funded by Hindu communities, and have had a history of being financed by wealthy zamindar classes in the past.

Every year, artisans create exquisite clay Murtis (statues) of Durga, her deified children, and the demon Mahishasura underfoot, to be placed on the altar or Mandap.

Offerings of prayer and food are made to Durga, with the veneration of the Purohit (priests). Worship extends into aspects of performance in the form of religious song and dance, ritualising the story of the mounted Durga and her victorious battle.

Sindoor Khela, the play of vermillion, is part of the series of processions and programmes held before the sixth day of the Puja.

Married women participate in the Sindoor Khela by playfully smearing vermillion on each other.

The distinguishing cultural token of a married woman in Hindu culture is signified by the vermillion on her forehead.

On the sixth day of the PujaDurga is transported by procession to the banks of the river for Bhaashoni.

Bhaashoni is the ritual submersion of the Durga Murti into the waters for as a symbol of her return. The ritual signifies Durga's departure from among men and her return to her husband, Lord Shiva the Destroyer.

The Bhaashoni breaks down and washes Durga downstream with the cycle repeating every year signifying the mother goddess' return in her perpetual dualistic conflict, and her subsequent departure.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher