Unveiling the face of the goddess
The festival of Durga Puja starts with Mahalaya, the first phase of
the waxing moon in Aswin. Thousands offer prayers to their ancestors at the
city's river banks, a ritual called Tarpan. The inauguration of the Goddess
idol starts on Mahashasthi. The main puja is for three days - Mahasaptami,
Mahaastami, Mahanavami. The puja rituals are long and very detailed and
complicated. Three days of Mantras and Shlokas and Arati and offerings -
needs an expert priest to do this kind of Puja. Because of these facts, the
number of Pujas held in the family has reduced and Durga Puja has mostly
emerged as a community festival.
On this day Goddess Durga arrives to the mortal world from her heavenly
abode, accompanied by her children. She is welcomed with much fanfare amidst
the beats of dhak. Unveiling the face of the idol is the main ritual on this
day. Kalaparambho, the ritual performed before the commencement of the puja
precedes Bodhon, Amontron and Adibas.
Saptami is the first day of Durga puja. Kola Bow or Nabapatrika is given a
pre-dawn bath. This is an ancient ritual of worshiping nine types of plants.
They are together worshiped as a symbol of the goddess. The main Saptami
Puja follows Kalparambho and Mahasnan.
The day began with a recital of Sanskrit hymns in community puja pandals as
thousands of devotees offered anjali to the goddess. Kumari Puja or the
worship of little girls as the mother goddess was a special part of the
rituals observed in a number of traditional and household pujas. As the day
wore on, it was time for the important Sandhi Puja, which marks the
inter-linking of the Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami.
This is the concluding day of Durga Puja. The main Navami puja begins after
the end of Sandhi Puja. The Navami Bhog is offered to the goddess. This is
later partaken as prasad by the devotees.
After the three days of Puja, in Dashami , in the last day, a tearful
farewell is offered to the Goddess. Most of the community pujas postpone the
farewell as long as possible and arrange a grand send-off. The images are
carried in processions around the locality and finally is immersed in a
nearby river or lake. Vijaya Dashami is an event celebrated all over the