Today's most authentic form of the Durga is that of a ten handed
goddess modeled out of clay astride a lion. Each of those hands carry a
separate weapon in them except two, which holds the spear which has been
struck into the chest of the demon, Mahishasura. The four children of the
Goddess had also been added to the iconography - Laxmi, the goddess of
wealth, Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, Kartik, the God of beauty as
well as warfare and Ganesha, the 'Siddhidata' or the starter of everything
in good sense.
The drum-beats are an integral part of the Durga Puja. This special variety
of the drum, known as 'Dhak,' enthralls the hearts of the Calcutta with its
majestic rhythm right from the day of 'Sasthi.' This drum is held on the
shoulder with the beating side in the bottom and is beaten with two sticks,
one thick and another thin.
The Durga Puja spans over a period of ten days in case of traditional and
household Pujas, though the main part of it is restricted to four days only.
The main Puja, however, starts on the evening of 'Sasthi', the sixth day
after the new moon, generally from beneath a 'Bel' tree for the traditional
ones. In the wee hours of 'Saptami,' the next day, the 'Pran' or life of the
Devi is brought from a nearby pond or river in a banana tree and established
inside the image. The main puja starts thereafter and the prime time is
reached in the 'Sandhikshan,' the crossover time between Ashtami and Navami.
Finally, on 'Dashami,' the tenth day from the new moon, the image is
immersed in a pond or river.