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Predominantly celebrated in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Odisha, and Bihar, Durga Puja happens to be one of the biggest festivals for Bengalis. The festival celebrates Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demon, Mahishasura. Though it’s a 10-day festival, the last five days are considered to be the most significant ones. Other than Goddess Durga, deities of Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Ganesha, and Karthik are also worshipped.

When is Durga Puja in 2020 Celebrated?

Below are the dates when Durga Puja is celebrated in 2020:

Name of the Day Day Date
Mahalaya Tuesday 15 or 17 September 2020
Maha Panchami Wednesday 21 October 2020
Maha Sashti Thursday 22 October 2020
Maha Saptami Friday 23 October 2020
Maha Ashtami Saturday 24 October 2020
Maha Navami Sunday 25 October 2020
Vijaya Dashami Monday 26 October 2020

The most important days in the festival are known as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Vijayadashami. In 2020, the important days in the Durga Puja festival will fall on the following days:

States in which Durga Puja is Celebrated: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Himachal Pradesh

Significance of Durga Puja

As per Hindu mythology, the festival marks Goddess Durga’s visit to her natal home along with her children. Durga Puja is preceded by Mahalaya, which marks the beginning of Durga’s journey to her home. The actual puja starts from “Maha Sashthi” or the sixth day where devotees welcome the Goddess with pomp and gusto. On this day, Durga’s deity is unveiled in front of the public. Several rituals are performed while the “dhakis” keep the mood and spirit of the puja alive by playing the “dhak”—a kind of drum that’s associated with the puja and Bengali culture.

The 7th day marks the commencement of “Maha Saptami”. On this day, just before dawn, a banana tree is immersed in the water as a part of the ritual. After the ceremonial bath, the tree or “Kola Bou” (as called in Bengali) is draped in a saree, usually a red-bordered one, and placed on the right-side of Ganesha, thereby implying that “Kola Bou” is actually the bride of Ganesha. However, several cultural revisionists and historians have different views on this as some believe that “Kola Bou” is another representation of Durga. Hence, they refute the theory that “Kola Bou” is the bride of Ganesha.

Another different view is that “Kola Bou” is a symbolic representation of nine types of plants that form a sacred complex. Priests tie a bunch of eight plants on the trunk of the banyan tree before performing the ritual. The nine different leaves combined together form “Kola Bou”—often considered as the plant form of Durga.

“Maha Ashtami” marks the 8th of the puja and is considered as the day when the Goddess defeated “Mahisasura”. Prayers are offered in the form of “Anjali” while feasts are organised in different localities. Khichdi and other delicacies are prepared on this day.

The 9th day is dubbed as “Maha Navami”. As soon as the “Sandhi Puja” ends, Maha Navami commences. Maha Aarti is performed as a closing ritual. Huge queues are common on this day as people flock in to take part in “Maha Aarti”.

The 10th day or “Maha Dashami” marks the final day of Durga Puja. On this day, Durga and the other deities are immersed in the river Ganga. Before the immersion, married women take part in “Sindoor Khela” where they smear vermillion on each other’s faces. On the day of immersion, also called “Visarjan”, huge processions are common. People dance and cheer on the road to celebrate the spirit of the puja. After the immersion, a typical custom is followed where people visit their relatives’ house to wish “Bijoya Dashami”.

Detailed Information about the Festival of Durga Puja

Durga puja is one of the mostly grandly celebrated festivals in the country with the celebrations carrying over for more than a week. Each day has its own special meaning and different activities are carried out every day. Some of these are:

  • Maha Shashti: As per mythology, Maha Shashti is known as the day when Goddess Durga landed on earth with her 4 children: Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Laxmi, Lord Ganesha, and Lord Kartikeya. On the eve of Maha Shashti, the face of the idol of Goddess Durga is unveiled. The rituals performed on the day are ‘Amontron, ‘Bodhon’ and ‘Adhibash’. Drums known as ‘Dhaak’ are banged to signal the arrival of Goddess Durga everywhere.
  • Maha Saptami: On the eve of Maha Saptami, the Maha puja is performed. Just before the sun rises, a banana tree is submerged in holy water and then it is covered with a new sari just like a newlywed woman. This ritual is known as ‘Kola bou’ or ‘Nabapatrika’. The banana tree is kept with the idol of Goddess Durga. Nine plants are also kept which represent the 9 forms of Goddess Durga.
  • Maha Ashtami: As per mythology, Maha Ashtami is believed to be the day when Goddess Durga killed Mahishasura, also known as the ‘Buffalo devil’. In the olden days, a buffalo was sacrificed to mark the occasion. Hymns are chanted in Sanskrit and people offer their prayers. The prayers are known as ‘Anjali’. Girls that are less than 9 years are depicted as Goddess Durga and are worshipped. This ritual is known as ‘Kumari puja’. After this, the ‘Sandhi puja’ is performed.
  • Maha Navami: After the ‘Sandhi puja’ ends, Maha Navami starts. The ‘Maha arati’ is performed on the eve of ‘Maha Navami’. This is followed by the organising of recreational activities after which the ‘bhog’ is served to everyone.
  • Maha Dashmi: On the eve of Maha Dashami, the idol of Goddess Durga is immersed in the holy water of river Ganges. Before the immersion, processions are carried out by the worshippers on trucks with the beating of drums which is accompanied by singing and dancing. During the procession, women that are married throw vermillion on each other. In the evening, people visit each other’s houses and wish ‘Vijoy Dashmi’. Special food dishes are also prepared.
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