the 'Ramayana', Lord 'Rama' along with his brother and army of
monkeys lead by Hanuman went to 'Lanka' to rescue his wife, Sita,
who was abducted and imprisoned by the ten headed 'Ravana', the
king of the Demons in Lanka.
Before his final battle with 'Ravana', Lord 'Rama' seeked the
blessings of Devi 'Durga' for defeating 'Ravana'.
He was given to
understand that the Goddess would be pleased only if she was
worshipped with one hundred Blue Lotuses. After travelling and
searching the whole world, Lord 'Rama' gathered only ninety-nine
Blue Lotuses. So he finally decided to offer one of his eyes,
which resembled Blue Lotuses. Durga, being pleased with the
devotion of 'Rama', appeared and blessed him for the battle.
The fierce and decisive battle started on the day of 'Saptami' and
Ravana was finally defeated and killed on the 'Sandhikshan' i.e.
the crossover period between Ashtami,the next day and Navami , the
day after. 'Ravana' was cremated on Dashami.
The main ritual of Durga Puja
spans a period of four days. However, in case of traditional and
household pujas, the festivities last till ten days. Debi-Pakkha
is the name given to the fortnight from the new moon till the next
full moon. This is the most propitious time for performing holy
rites. The ritual of drawing the eyes on the image of the goddess
is called chakkhu-daan. Symbolising the process of infusing the
image with the power of vision, this is done on Mahalaya, the day
of the new moon.
The main puja starts from Shasthi, which is the sixth day after
the new moon. On Saptami, the image of the goddess is infused with
life through a process called Bodhon. Early in the morning, the
pran of the Devi is put inside the image after it is brought from
a nearby river through the medium of a banana plant, called the
Kola Bou. The Kola Bou, bathed and draped in a new yellow saree,
resembles a newly wed bride. Ashtami is universally accepted as
the culminating point of the four day celebrations. It was on this
day that Durga had killed Mahishasura. The ritual of Sandhipuja
marks Sandhikkhan, the juncture between Ashtami and Nabami. The
main attraction of Nabami is the Maha-Arati held in the evening.
On Dashami, the image is immersed in a river, and people bid a
sorrowful farewell to the Mother Goddess, and the wait begins for
yet another year.
Bijoya is a special ritual whereby peace and good relations are
reaffirmed. Families exchange sweets and people embrace each
other, vowing brotherhood. Bijoya continues till the next new
moon, when Kali Puja is held.
According to tradition, the
images of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartick and Ganesh are also
separately worshipped along with that of Durga. The image of Durga
is framed at the centre, and the background behind the whole group
is called the chaal-chitra. It is a circular canvas of mat
containing paintings of heavenly scenes and drawings of other
important gods and goddesses.
The community puja, the
most-coveted festival in the year, has transcended geographical
boundaries and reached every son and daughter of the soil across
the globe. The four-day fair - with its splendour and mesmerising
look - is too beautiful to be a called a mere festival. It has
become an indispensable part of every one's life. Such is the
charm and seduction of the occasion that several big community
pujas in the city are being sponsored by multi-national companies
and commercial firms.