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The Origin And History Of Durga Puja

history of durga puja
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Dussehra, or the annual Hindu goddess Durga feast, is one of India’s most important holidays. It is a multi-day festival that can last anywhere from 6 to 10 days depending on where you are in the country. The celebration is known as Navratri in much of Northern India (nine nights). Regardless of these differences, the last 4 days of Maha Saptmi, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navmi, and Vijay Dashmi are very significant and are celebrated with great pomp and grandeur across the country. Here is everything about the origin and history Of Durga Puja and how it all started.

The History Of Durga Puja

The celebration recalls the goddess’s victory over a demon known as Mahisasura, in most regions of the country. The demon was sent to start a war against the gods, according to Hindu mythology, and that was up to Durga to defeat him and preserve the land. She began her struggle with the demon on Maha Saptami, the 7th day of Navratri, and defeated him on Vijaya Dashmi, the last day of Navratri.

History Of Durga Puja

The goddess, also known as the ‘destroyer of evil,’ is distinguished by her 10 arms, each of which carries a devastating weapon, as well as her chariot, a lion. Durga is also known as Gauri, Chandika, Amba, Bhavani, Parvati, and Mahisasuramardini to Hindu followers. She is the ‘Giver Of Life’ and the ‘Guardian of the Righteous.’

Also Read – Best Places To Visit In India During Navratri

Origin Of Celebration

Although this festival is said to stretch back to ancient times in Hinduism, the oldest historical mention of a goddess celebration may be found in West Bengal in the 1500s. During the country’s independence movement, however, the celebration is thought to have acquired a lot of clouts and risen to its current role as one of the country’s major festivals. Many people saw the goddess as a symbol of the nation and its quest for independence.

  • In the late 1500s, the first big worship of Devi in written history is claimed to have taken place. According to legend, the landowners of Malda and Dinajpur, also known as zamindars, were the ones who started Bengal’s inaugural Durga Puja. 
  • According to another tradition, the first Sharadiya or Autumn Durga Puja in Bengal was held in  1606 by Bhabananda Mazumdar of Nadiya or Raja Kangshanarayan of Taherpur. 
  • The first communal puja termed the ‘bara-yaari’ puja, or the ‘twelve-pal’ puja, was held in 1790 by 12 companions of Guptipara in Hoogly, West Bengal, who coordinated and collected donations from local inhabitants to perform the ‘bara-yaari’ puja. 
  • According to Somendra Chandra Nandy, in ‘Durga Pooja: A Rational Approach,’ published in The Statesman Festival in 1991, the bara-yaari puja was introduced to Kolkata in 1832 by Raja Harinaath of Cossimbazar, who celebrated the Durga Puja at his family house in Murshidabad from 1824 to 1831.
  • “In 1910, when the Sanatan Dharmotsahini Sabha held the first true community puja in Baghbazar, Kolkata, with complete public input, public control, and public involvement, the bara-yaari puja paved the way to the saarvajanin or community puja. The ‘public’ form of Bengali Durga Puja is now the most popular n Folklore, Public Sphere, and Civil Society,” M. D. Muthukumarswamy and Molly Kaushal write. 
  • The communal Durga Puja, which was established in Bengal in the 18th and 19th centuries, made a vital contribution to the development of Hindu-Bengali culture.

Also Read – Strange Navratri Rituals in India Which You Might Not Know

British Involvement In The Celebration

With the transfer of British India’s capital to Delhi in 1911, many Bengalis relocated to the town to work in governmental departments. The first Devi Puja was conducted in Delhi in 1910, when the deity’s emblem, the ‘mangal kalash,’ was ritually consecrated. 

The Kashmere Gate Durga Puja, which celebrated its centenary in 2009, is now held on the grounds of Bengali Senior Secondary School, Delhi, and is hosted by the Delhi Durga Puja Samiti.

Also Read – Why We Celebrate 2 Navratris In A Year? Explained Scientifically

The Evolution Of Pandals And Pratima

The goddess’s traditional image, which is worshipped during the Durga Puja, corresponds to the iconography described in the scriptures. The Gods placed their abilities on Durga, resulting in a gorgeous goddess with 10 arms, each wielding their most devastating weapon. Durga’s four children—Ganesh, Kartikeya, Lakshmi, and Saraswati—are also shown in the tableau. ‘Ek-Chala (‘ek’- one, ‘chala’ -cover) is a traditional clay picture of Durga, or Pratima, composed of clay with all 5 goddesses and gods beneath one structure.

The massive temporary canopies that house the symbols are known as ‘pandals.’ They are supported by a bamboo pole structure and covered with colorful cloth. The countless people that go ‘pandal-hopping’ over the 4 days of Durga Puja are treated to a visual spectacle by modern pandals, which are inventive, artistic, and ornamental all at the same time.

Conclusion

Today, the celebration is marked by singing and dancing, a fast followed by feasts, ornate decorations, pujas (great temple ceremonies), and religious recitals. However the history of Durga puja is still unknown to many, but the festival of Navratri is popular all over India. In certain regions of the nation, goddess idols are submerged in water, while in others, young girls dress up as goddesses and participate in numerous rites at public gatherings and temples.

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