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Durga Puja: Significance of Saptami, Ashtami, Here's Everything You Need To Know About It
Spiritual  
indiatimes

It's safe to say, that nothing can compare to the joy of Durga Puja celebrations. During these days, the city doesn’t sleep and the people are all decked up for the celebrations - themed pandals, traditional puja food and delicacies that will make you drool. While Kolkata is the epicentre of this grandeur, people across the country celebrate this festival with fervour.

 

This year, Durga Puja will start from October 4 and will end on October 8, which is also when we will be celebrating Dussehra. 
 
Why Is Durga Puja Celebrated? 
 
 
Maa Durga slayed the demon Mahishasur, who was the king of asuras and had a head of buffalo. Even though he was an asura, he worshiped Lord Brahma and performed years of penance for him. 
 
Finally, Lord Brahma was impressed by his devotion and was ready to grant him a wish. Mahishasura, drunk with power and wanting to dominate the entire earth, demanded immortality. He desired that he should not die at the hands of either man or animal. Lord Brahma immediately granted him his wish, but also told him that his death would occur at the hands of a woman. 
 
However, Mahishasura thought that he was too powerful to be killed by a woman. After this wish, he attacked Trilok (earth, heaven and hell), he didn’t spare Indralok, which is the abode of Lord Indra. 
 
Even though the Gods declared war against him, they were unable to defeat him because he was blessed by Lord Brahma. After feeling helpless and seeking Lord Vishnu’s help, they decided to create a female form. All three gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) came together and created Goddess Durga, an avatar of ultimate shakti.  
 
According to the story, Mahishasura and Maa Durga were engaged in a war for about fifteen days and after that Maa Durga finally stabbed him in the chest, while her lion dug its claws deep into his flesh. That was the end of the evil Mahishasura. 
 
That is why Durga Puja is celebrated. 
 
How Is Maa Durga’s Idol Made?
 
 
There is one thing about the festival that not everyone knows - every year the artists and idol makers go to the brothel and ask for soil (clay) to make maa durga's idol. The idol for the puja needs to be made from a mixture of cow urine, cow dung, and punya maati (blessed soil).
 
This is done because priests believe that during the fight between Goddess Durga and Mahishasur, the latter tried to misbehave with Maa Durga, but she destroyed him. Thus, this ritual is an act of paying respect to womanhood, to the women who bear the brunt of harsh words and prejudice of the society.
 
Significance Of Each Day Of Durga Puja
 
Durga Puja starts with Mahalaya and is followed by Shasti, Shaptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami on the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th days respectively.
 
Mahalaya
 
 
With this day, the celebrations begin. It occurs on Amavasya and is held on the last day of the dark fortnight in the month of Ashvin (September 23, 2019 - October 22, 2019), according to the traditional Hindu calendar.
 
This day is marked by preparing for the arrival of Goddess Durga on earth. The occasion is associated with different practices and it is believed that mantras called 'Mahisasura Mardini' invoke the Goddess; the most famous one being 'Jago Tumi Jago.
 
Shasti - 6th Day 
 
 
It is the 6th day of this festival and on this day pandals are put up and Goddess Durga is worshipped as Katyayani and is gifted weapons to kill the demon. 
 
Saptami - 7th Day 
 
 
Saptami is celebrated on the 7th day and it is marked by bathing of the goddess, reciting aartis. On this day, a group of nine plants called Nabapatrika are tied together to present it to nine manifestations of Goddess Durga. 
 
During the early hours of the morning before sunrise, these plants are immersed in the waters of River Ganga. 

 

Ashtami - 8th Day 
 
 
It is celebrated on the 8th day and the puja which is offered on this day is meant to prepare the Goddess for the battle against Mahishasura. The famous Sandhi Puja, which is offered on this day, is performed when Ashtami ends and Navami begins.
 
Interestingly, the last 24 minutes of Ashtami and the first 24 minutes of Navami, are regarded as Sandhikhan and this is the moment when Maa Durga also killed Chanda and Munda, the two allies of Mahishasura who attacked her from behind. 
 
Offerings on this day are just grand - 108 lotuses, 108 earthen oil lamps, single whole fruit, hibiscus flowers, saree, uncooked grains, jewelry, bel leaves and a garland of 108 bel leaves. 
 
Navami - 9th Day 
 
 
The ninth day of the Durga Puja Festival it is marked by the Kumari Puja, where little girls are adorned in jewellery and are considered to be avatars of the goddess.
 
Dashmi- 10th Day 
 
 
It is the last day of the festival. Popularly known as Vijay Dashmi, it is the day when the goddess reunites with her. On this day, women smear each other with sindur which is known as Sindur Khela. 
 
As part of this ritual, married Bengali Hindu women apply sindur on the forehead and feet of the goddess and offer sweets to her. Then they put sindur on each other's faces and offer sweets to each other.
 
Apart from West Bengal, Durga Puja is celebrated in Assam, Bihar, Odisha and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh; other states in India celebrate it in different ways. But if you are in Kolkata to celebrate this festival, then you must go to these famous pandals:
 
1. College Square Sarbojanin Durgotsav
 
2. Ekdalia Evergreen Durga Puja Club
 
3. Suruchi Sangha
 
4. Hindustan Park
 
5. Jodhpur Park
 
6. Bosepukur Sitala Mandir
 
7. Badamtala Ashar Sangha
 
So, now you know quite a bit about the festival of Durga Puja, including why is it celebrated, how the is idol made and the significance of celebrating this festival.

 
 


 
 


 
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