Navratri 2023: When is Durga Puja? Know the date, history and significance of the Hindu festival
Navratri 2023: When is Durga Puja? Here's all you need to know about the date, history, significance and celebration of the Hindu festival
According to Hindu mythology, Durga is the manifestation of shakti or the power of God and the goddess is believed to take different forms to destroy evil forces at different times and while Durga Puja celebrates this victory over evil, devotees worship the nine avatars of Durga all through the nine days of Navratri. The nine avatars of Durga are namely Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri.
The festival of Shardiya Navratri is a commemoration of the victory of good over evil, as the Hindu community believes that it was on this day that Durga defeated the demon king Mahishasura by combining the powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. It is also believed that during Navratri, Maa Durga travels from Devlok to Earth and takes away all the troubles of her devotees hence, a fast is kept either on all the nine days or in joda, the first two or the last two days of the Navratri, to please and seek blessings of Durga.
Celebrated in the month of Karthik of the Bengali calendar that coincides with October in the Gregorian calendar, Durga Puja 2023 will be celebrated for five consecutive days starting from October 20 and will conclude on October 24.
History and significance:
According to Hindu mythology, the demon Mahishasura had received a boon of invincibility from Lord Brahma, which meant that no man or god could kill him. Mahishasura attacked the gods and chased them out of heaven after receiving the blessing. To fight off the demon king, all the gods came together to worship Adi Shakti. The divine light that came out of all the gods during the puja created Maa Durga.
The fight between Maa Durga and Mahishasura lasted for ten days. Goddess Durga slayed the demon king on the tenth day, and hence the day it is celebrated as Vijaya Dashami, symbolising the victory of good over evil. On the last day, devotees immerse Goddess Durga's idol in the holy water of the river Ganges. It is known as Durga Visarjan. Before the immersion, worshippers carry out processions accompanied by the beating of drums, singing and dancing.
As with most festivals, people celebrate by preparing delicious food, offering it to the Goddess first and then sharing it with friends and relatives. Similar to Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra, this festival brings together people from all walks of life and celebrate together.
The pandals are artistically decorated and visited by people, prasad (offering to God) is usually made in the form of khichdi. Various stalls are set up with foods from various parts of the country. Dishes such as chops, puchka, kathi rolls, mishti, mishti pulao and jalebi are made during the festival.
Durga Puja holds great significance for the Bengali community however, it is also celebrated with great pomp and show in other states like Odisha, Assam, Tripura, Bihar and Jharkhand where people begin their preparations to welcome the goddess on Mahalaya. The festival ends with Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra, marking the end of Durga Puja and the nine-day long Navratri celebrations where Vijay Dashami marks the triumph of Durga over the demon king Mahishasura but Dussehra or Dasara also celebrates the victory of Rama over Ravana.