Heralding the Divine Goddess: Celebrating Durga Puja in Delhi!!
According to Hindu mythology, the Holy trinity of Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva created the divine goddess Durga to vanquish the demon Mahisasur. The goddess Durga represents the unison of the divine forces against the forces of evil and wickedness.
Durga Puja, literally meaning worship of Durga, also referred to as Durgotsava is an annual Hindu festival in South Asia. The celebration is held on six days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Bijoya Dashami. The dates of Durga Puja celebrations are set according to the traditional Hindu calendar.
Delhi has a large population of Bengalis and they have settled here over a period of 100 years and even earlier. There are various Bengali societies (called samities) which organize Durga Puja and the oldest celebration go 100 years back!!
The Durga Puja celebrations in Delhi are grand affairs, as grand as the ones back home in West Bengal if not more. All the five days of the Durga Puja are celebrated with lots of fanfare. Huge Pandals are set up and decorated, idols of Durga Maa vanquishing Mahisasur and her children (Laxmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik) and brought and worshipped for 5 days. There are various stalls set up outside the pandals selling mouth watering Bengali delicacies which are savoured by all those visiting the pandals.
One of the unique feature of Delhi Durga Puja celebrations is the ‘Bhog’ (or Lunch offering) organized for all the people during Shasthi, Saptami and Navami. It comprises of communal lunch offered to all those who come to visit Durga Maa and the pandals, free of cost irrespective of caste creed or religion. It is a way of Durga Maa embracing all her human children.
In the evenings, there are a number of cultural programs are organized by various pandals depending upon their budget and they are the showcase of Bengali culture and arts. It is indeed a lively atmosphere to visit the various pandals. At the pandals, one can see many gatherings of common friends doing what is called “Aadda” or lively conversations. Visiting pandals with friends and family, talking and sampling the food sold near them is known as pandal hopping. Young people embrace this activity with vigour.
During the five days of Durga Puja, Bengalis in Delhi relive their memories of Bengal and celebrate this festival grandly.