Durga Puja is one of the religious festivals of India which is celebrated throughout the country with great zeal and fervor. It is particularly celebrated in the state of West Bengal in Kolkata in the honor of celebrating the unfathomable power of Goddess Durga. Durga Puja celebrates the triumph of good over the evil! It is basically the celebration of Hindus and on the day of Durga Puja Goddess Durga is revered for having had killed the demon buffalo Mahishasura. This festival is celebrated during the span of whole period of Navaratri for a time span of 10 days.
Durga Puja is mostly celebrated as Navaratri all over India. The Hindu festival is observed as Durga Puja in the eastern states while people in Gujarat worship a holy clay pot called Garbo during this festival. Similarly, South India associates Navratri celebrations with the assembly of Golu or Bombe Habba while the northern states associate Navratri mainly with Ram Leela. Different parts of India celebrate Navaratri in their own traditional and unique ways
In the eastern part of India, in the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Bihar Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja and it is observed in the last four days of Navratri. These days are referred to as Saptami, Ashthami, Navami and Dashami. Durga Puja is the main festival of the people of West Bengal. Durga Puja is celebrated in various parts of the states in big pandals, where large sized idols of Goddess Durga on her lion, demon Mahishasur, Lord Ganesha, Kartikeya and Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati are erected. The sounds of Dhol, Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh, the fragrance of agarbattis fill the air with freshness and purity.
The celebrations of Durga Puja in West Bengal should be “must-watch” for everyone once in his lifetime. Navratri Celebration in Maharashtra is very similar to the celebration in Bihar and other states. Many people in Maharashtra also light a lamp or diya in their house, which symbolizes knowledge and prosperity and the lamp is kept lit throughout the nine days. On the occasion of Dussehra, men in the house perform Ayudha Puja and worship and thank all sorts of tools, weapons, vehicles and productive instruments are maintained, decorated.
In Gujarat Durga puja is celebrated as Navaratri. The sounds of dandiya sticks and dhol can be heard all over Gujarat during the first nine days of the month of Ashvin. Devotees observe fast and worship Maa Shakti. In the evening, an earthen pot with holes and diyas inside, also known as “Garbi”, is lighted and women perform arti with it.
In Punjab, the people keep fast on the first 7 days of Navratri and end their fast on Ashthami or Navami by worshipping 9 little girls and a boy, which is known as “Kanjika”. Every night, jagranstake place, where devotees gather to sing religious songs.
Navratri is also celebrated in Tamil Nadu as a religious celebration to seek the blessings of Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati in the nine special nights. The most fascinating ritual is Kolu, where a makeshift staircase is decorated with dolls which are said to be passed on from generation to generation. It is a staircase having 9 stairs, representing the 9 nights.
During the nine days of Navratri, the people of Andhra Pradesh celebrate Bathukamma Panduga, nine days dedicated to Maha Gauri, the goddess representing womanhood. Women make a beautiful flower stack known as “Batukamma”, which is arranged with seasonal flowers and perform puja in front of the Batukamma for 9 days and then on the last day they set afloat their Batukammas in a lake or any other water body.
Navratri in synonymous with Ram Leelas in the Northern states and episodes from the story of Rama and Ravana are enacted by teams of artists in rural and urban centres, inside temples or in temporarily constructed stages. Ram Leela has been inscribed by UNESCO as one of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” in 2008 and various cities in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh organise Ramleelas for Navratri season.
For the Hindus in Himachal Pradesh, Navratri is a great celebration. Unlike other states the celebration here starts on the tenth day of Navratri when the festival ends in other states. People celebrate the tenth day, also known as “Kullu Dussehra” as the day of return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya.
Thus, going by the religious celebrations among the people of the country, we can say proudly that in spite of the fact India is a land of diversities, there is unity in diversity and that is what makes India different from other countries.