The five-day Sharadiyo Durga Puja, the biggest religious festival of the Bangalee Hindu community, is being celebrated for the second day today with Maha Saptami puja amid due religious fervor and gaiety.
Maha Saptami puja is being held across the country this morning as nabapatrika, nine plants including a banana tree tied together and wrapped in a white saree with red borders, were bathed in the water of nearby rivers or ponds (the holy Ganges) and later placed next to Lord Ganesha.
Some Bangalees call it ‘Kolabou’ (the banana-bride) and it is regarded by many as one of the wives of Lord Ganesha. But this is actually not one of Ganesha’s wives. It is considered a representation of Goddess Durga.
It is also known as ‘Nabapatrika’ as nine plants are tied together to form it and each plant represent the nine forms of the goddess -Brahmani (banana), Kalika (colocasia), Durga (turmeric), Kartiki (jayanti), Shiva (wood apple), Raktadantika (pomegranate), Sokrahita (ashoka), Chamunda (arum) and Lakshmi (paddy).
Maha Saptami puja was offered later to Goddess Durga at temples and makeshift mandaps countrywide followed by offering of Anjali to Goddess by devotees who kept fasting till the puja.
Later, prashad (food and water offered to a deity during worship), was distributed among devotees.
About the rituals performed at Dhakeshwari National Temple on Maha Saptami today, Mahanagar Sarbajanin Puja Committee president Manindra Kumar Nath said nabapatrika snan was held in the morning followed by Maha Saptami Puja, offering of Anjali and distribution of Prashad.
In the afternoon, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader will visit the temple and join a view-exchange meeting at the Dhakeshwari temple, said Manindra adding a delegation of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) will visit the temple later in the evening.
Identical rituals were also held at all temples countrywide including the capital Dhaka.
Ramna Kali Mandir managing committee president Utpal Saha said priests along with devotees carry out the nabapatrika snan in the morning and later puja was offered to Goddess. A large number of devotees offered Anjali and later they got prashad.
The annual five-day Sharadiyo Durgotsab commenced with Kalparambho on Friday morning followed by Adhibash, Amantran (invitation) and Bodhon (incarnation) in the late afternoon yesterday.
Temples and puja mandaps are now witnessing recitation of verses from the Holy Sri Sri Chandi, blowing of conch shells and beating of traditional dhak-dhols (traditional drums), kashor since Friday and it will continue for next days until immersion of idols on the day of Bijoya Dashami on October 24.
Bangalee Hindus might have a plethora of festivals (baaro maaashe tero parbon or 13 festivals in 12 months) but Durgotsab remains the queen bee.
According to Hindu religious texts, the ideal time of worshipping the goddess is spring.
Autumn is considered the season where the ‘devatas’ or Hindu
deities go into rest mode. If deities have to be invoked at this time they must be awakened from their sleep.
This process is known as ‘Bodhon’ which is performed in the evening likewise Kalparambha.
Dhakeshwari National Temple priest Barun Chakrabarty said the festival began with Kalparambho on Friday morning and later in the late afternoon
Adhibash, Amantran and Bodhon were held at the base of the Bel tree on the temple premises awakening Goddess Durga.
Goddess Durga is commonly depicted with different vehicles every year, and to be precise, there are four of them, each of which carries its own symbolic meaning.
In 2023, Goddess Durga arrives and will depart in horse this year and it
carries the message of war and dispute and inclement weather, Dhaka
University Jagannath Hall Upasanalaya’s chief priest Sadhan Chakrabarty said adding “this is considered inauspicious”.
The festival is basically a lavish homecoming of sorts, held to commemorate Goddess Durga’s return to her father’s home or the earthly abode from her husband’s (Lord Shiva) home in Mount Kailash.
Exquisitely crafted and decorated life-size clay idols of the Goddess Durga depicting her slaying the demon Mahishasura were formally installed at temples in midnight last night to worship Goddess Durga for four days next before immersion of the idols in rivers, ponds or water bodies on the fifth day of Bijoya Dashami.
The celebrations also include offering puja to other major deities of
Hinduism such as goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth, prosperity), Saraswati (goddess of knowledge and music), Ganesha (god of good beginnings) and Kartikeya (god of war).
Durga Puja celebrations consist of many rituals having special significance.
On the third day of Maha Ashtami on October 22, different rituals including offering of Anjali and Kumari Puja will be held in the morning and Sandhi Puja in the late afternoon or in the evening.
Kumari Puja means worshipping of a prepubescent girl as the living
incarnation or avatar of Maa Durga. She is dressed in new clothes and dressed up in floral ornaments. This ritual has its origins in the Puranas.
Sandhi Puja will be offered at a transition point between Ashtami and Nabami.
The last 24 minutes of Ashtami and the first 24 minutes of Navami are known as ‘Sandhikkhon’, said priest Barun Chakrabarty.
According to the Puranas, this is an auspicious moment in time when Durga
manifests into Chamunda. Chamunda is a fierce, indomitable entity, who
single-handedly defeated demon duo Sumbha and Nisumbha. A total of 108
earthen lamps (pradip) are lit to celebrate this momentous occasion. The
priests chant mantras and drummers time their beats to the chants.
Maha Nabami Puja will be held on the fourth day on October 23. Dunuchi Nach takes place on that day. This is one of the most exciting rituals of the Durga Puja.
Clay pots are filled with smoking charcoal.
Some people take the pot in their hands and start dancing. The daredevils try to balance the clay pot on their heads. Some who wish to be even more adventurous attempt to hold the pot through their teeth! Earlier the dhunuchi nach was performed only by men.
However nowadays women are also emerging as dhunuchi dance experts.
On the final day of Bijaya Dashami, puja will be offered in the morning and Darpan Bisharjan will also be held.
Sindoor khela is one the most popular part of Durga Puja on the day of Bijoya Dashami.
Traditionally, married women whose husbands are still alive take part in this ritual. The word, sindoor khela translates to a vermilion game. As the name suggests, women play around with various shades of red vermilion powder.
On Dashami, Maa Durga is given a grand farewell before she is immersed in the river water. Married women offer vermilion and sweets to the goddess.
After that, they smear each other with vermilion playfully. It is believed that this ritual will bring good fortune for their family and help their husbands live longer.
The five-day festival will come to an end with immersion of idols of goddess Durga and her offspring – Ganesha, Karitik, Laxmi and Saraswati – and devotees will receive Shantijol (sacred water from where deities are
immersed) on that day of Bijoya Dashami.
This is a bittersweet day. The goddess and her children are taken out of
their earthly abode or the pandal for Bisarjan or immersion in the river.
This indicates her return to Mount Kailash. Devotees often shout “Aschhe
bochhor abar hobe” (Durga Puja will return next year again).
In the past, the idols were carried on bamboo structures. However, nowadays the idols are transported in trucks or pickup vans to riverbanks and then they are placed in a boat and taken to the middle of the river for immersion.
After immersion of idols, young members of the family touch the feet of the elders to seek blessings. Some hug each other (kolakuli). Sweets such as chomchom, kalojam, sandesh, narkeler naru (mounds made of coconut and
jaggery) are distributed on this day.
In the capital Dhaka, the main puja mandaps are at Dhakeshwari National
Temple, Ramkrishna Mission and Math, Kalabagan, Banani, Shakhari Bazar and Ramna Kali Mandir.
In major divisional cities including port city Chattogram, Rajshahi, Khulna and Sylhet and district towns including Narayanganj, Faridpur, Dinajpur, Jashore, Kushtia, Netrakona, Tangail, Satkhira, are also witnessing massive celebration of Durga Puja.
Durga Puja is being celebrated at 32,408 mandaps across the country this year including 245 in the capital, according to Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad (BPUP).
BPUP general secretary Prof Chandranath Poddar said the country saw Durga
Puja celebration at 32,168 mandaps including 241 in the capital last year.
Stringent security measures have taken across the country during the
celebration of Durga Puja to avert any untoward situation.