In Hinduism Durga Puja is the worship of the mother goddess. It is celebrated each year during the months of September/October. In Bengal ,in India it is a 5 day festival where the Goddess is worshiped as a destroyer of evil.
She arrives at her mother’s house along with her 4 children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartick and Ganesh.
At her feet lies the demon god Mahisasura.
Mythology states that Mahisasura was wreaking havoc on all people on Earth. So the people all prayed together to the Goddess to destroy the evil and protect them. Thus arrived Devi Durga, resplendent on a lion, bearing weapons in her ten arms. Mahisasura at that point realized that his end was somehow near. Yet, there was fought a bloody battle , where finally the Goddess slayed him and he lay at her feet.
Each day of the Durga Puja has a significance related to this tale.
On the 6th day, Sasthi, among prayers and rituals, she is decorated with all her weapons, to signify her readiness for the battle.
On the 7th day, Saptami, the Goddess is invoked with special prayers to give her life and more strength and power for the battle. The significant among them is the ritual involving the banana plant, Kola Bou Chaan.
On the 8th day, Ashtami, the demon is killed by the Goddess, hence it is the most significant day of the festival. The highlight being the ‘Sandhi puja’ which is is conducted at the meeting point of the 8th and 9th day. In this puja 108 diyas are lit and amidst constant beating of the drums and blowing of conch shells a special prayer is offered.
On the 9th day, Nabami, grand aartis are held with various festive items like mirrors, conch shells and fans.
Finally arrives the 10th day, Dashami, it is time for the Goddess to return to her husband Lord Shiva, in Mount Kailash, along with her children. A time to bid adieu with a solemn promise to meet again next year.
So, as we gather to celebrate another year of such festivities, it is opportune enough to recall or understand the underlying meaning of the Pujas. It is a reminder for all to curb their animal instincts and live together in peace and harmony.