“Ya devi sarbabhuteshshu, shakti rupena sanksthita Namasteshwai Namasteshwai Namasteshwai namo namaha.”
The loose translation would be “O Goddess who permeates all things and is manifested today as Strength, I bow to thee, I bow to thee, I bow to thee over and over”.
As the Durga Puja gets nearer, one can find every Bengali waiting eagerly with a smile on his face. This autumnal festival brings in a wisp of freshness in the air in welcome of Mother Durga. The clear blue sky, the mild fragrance of the white Shiuli flowers, the swaying of the Kash flowers in the fields and the shakti chants make the entire atmosphere holy. This festival in the autumn or Sharat signifies the power of the female Shakti, the ten armed Goddess Durga, over all that is bad and evil. Durga Puja is a festival like no other for the Bengalis but it also spells the start of the great Indian festival season. People dress up in all finery and visit pandals to see grand Durga statues, meet other community members, relish traditional food and share the warm feeling of bonhomie.
Today is Mahalaya. It is a very special and sentimental day for the Bengali community, which gets up at 4 AM to listen to the rendition of Mahishasura Mardhini, or destruction of the demon or evil forces by the powerful Goddess Durga. The song played on radio is the age-old rendition by Birendra Krishna Bhadra (left photo). Bhadra is no more, but his song for the Goddess is forever. That broadcast on All India Radio really sets the mood for Durga Puja and Navratri. Even from a distance, the sounds of dhaak – the traditional Bengali drums beaten with sticks – can be heard. Its distinctive sound is literally the rhythm divine, associated as it is with the spiritual aura that seems all-pervasive during this festive season.
The four main days of puja are called Maha Shasthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami. The festivities begin from Maha Shashthi (the sixth day from the day after mahalaya) when the priest unveils the deity during a puja known as Bodhan. And the fifth day is called Bijoya Dashami or Dusshera, when the Goddess is immersed in water. But the most important days of puja are Ashtami and Navami.
The Durga Puja gives us a chance to heal our wounds, to let go of our angers, and share this tranquil joy with one and all. And one thing that makes the Durga Puja unique is its representation of our culture. It is an occasion not only for worship, but also celebration, music, dance and everything that make our culture unique.
Wishing everyone a very happy and fun-filled durga puja !!