What makes West Bengal's Durga Puja special?

Durgotsava is the celebrations of arrival of Ma Durga, who comes home for a certain period of days

Durga Puja popularly known as Durgotsava in West Bengal is an annual Hindu festival that pays respects to the Hindu goddess, Durga and is also celebrations  of the victory over the king of demons, Mahishasur.
Durgotsava is the celebrations of arrival of Ma Durga, comes home for a certain period of days.
Durga puja is a ten days festival, out of which the last five days holds the key significance and involves certain traditional rituals and practices.
The festival begins with Mahalaya, on which the devotees perform 'Tarpan' by offering water and food to their dead ancestors.
The next significant day of the festival is the sixth day, Maha Sashti, on which devotees welcomes the Ma Durga. Followed by Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami where Ma Durga along with Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya are respected and worshipped.
The magnificent artisans who create the idols of the Ma Durga have an important ritual, which is called "Chokkhu Dan", which means, giving the goddess her eyes.
A senior artist draws the eyes of the goddess idol on early morning of Mahalaya, and marks the beginning of Ma Durga journey to the mortal world.
Goddess Durga is worshipped in nine different forms, and one such form is that of a Kumari , who is the young girl who has not reached her puberty.
Young girls are worshipped by the priest on the day of Ashtami, which is the most important days of all.
One of the key rituals of Durga is the Kumari, or the young girl is worshipped by all devotees, and people seek her blessings.
Durga Puja and Dhakis or the drummers plays an integral part in the festival. The sound of the Dhakis tells you that the festival has begun.
The Dhakis are even played during the chanting of prayers, aarti and other key rituals.
There is another important ceremonial dance, which is known as dhunuchi nach without which the festival feels incomplete.
The sound of Dhakis are always represents with Ma Durga, and hearing it stimulates a positve feeling which is only known to those who have experienced it.
On the final day of the puja, an important ritual which is called boron is performed by married women.
These women feed Ma Durga sweets, apply vermilion or sindur on her, and ask her to come back the next year.
Followed by, women play with the sindur and apply it on other married women.
Another interesting fact is that kids are made to write the name of Goddedd for 101 times on a piece of paper which happens just after the immersion of the idol.
Durga Puja in Bengal is not just about food and themed based pandals, but it more the cultural heritage, rituals, essence of unity and devotion.

Nistha Jain

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