Durga Puja : Most Popular Festival in Eastern India

crocodiletears By crocodiletears, 11th Oct 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/122xtrb6/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>India>Calcutta & West Bengal

Durga Puja is a 6 days long Hindu religious festival celebrated in extensive regions of Eastern India with its epicenter at Kolkata (erstwhile while Calcutta)

Religious Background

When the very powerful demon Mahishasura started wreaking havoc both in Heaven and Earth the Gods and Goddesses realized it will be impossible for any one of them to defeat this formidable adversary. So they created a special Goddess, Ma Durga and each of them endowed her with their respective weapons and skills.
Durga Puja is the 6 day long celebration of the triumph of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura and establishing peace and order in the Three Worlds.
Apart from Ma Durga, Durga Puja also involves the worshiping of Her sons Karthik and Ganesha, daughters Lakshmi and Saraswati and husband Lord Shiva who accompany Her on her journey to Earth.

Celebration of Durga Puja

Traditionally Durga Puja was celebrated within families in the Bengali month of Sarat (usually October-November) and this practice still persists in rural areas of Bengal. However, due to the disintegration of large families into nuclear families specially in cities, the festival is celebrated on a more territorial basis with every few families (usually over 100 and often greater than 500) paying a particular sum of money to a local club or association for organizing the festival on their behalf.

Under this arrangement a temporary structures of cloth and bamboo called pandals are erected and decorated in artistic and often unique ways, usually drawing inspiration from culture and traditional handicrafts of Bengal or other Indian states. A large number of tournaments are arranged to judge the best pandals

The crowd is invariably thrown into a frenzy of action-- pandal hopping through out the day and night and reveling in the epicurean delights of street food.

Socioeconomic Benefits of Celebrating Durga Puja

It is one of the few festivals in India which has successfully transcended all barriers of caste, creed and religion as everyone is equally welcomed to participate in the merriment which usually involves three days of feasting. Thus over the years Durga Puja has become a symbol of communal harmony.

Secondly, it serves a platform for folk artists (who often lie below the poverty level) to show case their art and talent. It is also an opportunity for them to rake in a decent sum of money, thus improving their financial condition.

Concerns Regarding the Durga Puja

Typically the local organizing committees accept a reasonable donation from its members called chanda for organizing the festival in that locality. However, with growing competition and expectations these authorities often ask for outrageous sums of money and failing to comply often results in property damage or even physical assault. These unfortunate incidents often make the festival a burden for the poorer half of the urban population.

Another more recent development which has rapidly become a burning issue is the environmental hazards entailed by the Durga Puja. The paints used to decorate the clay idols are often toxic and spells diaster for aquatic life when the idols are surrendered to the holy waters of the Ganges at the end of the festival. To counter this alternate avenues are being seriously explored by scientists.

Tags

Calcutta, Calcutta Festival, Durga Puja, Festival Eastern India, Festival India, Festival West Bengal, Goddess Durga, Hindu Deities, Hindu Festival, Kolkata, Religious Festival India

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Regular Indian teenager studying chemical engineering and with a passion for writing

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Comments

author avatar Mr Arrogant
13th Oct 2010 (#)

Since i am at kolkata itself this durga puja. . . .gonna have fun

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author avatar crocodiletears
14th Oct 2010 (#)

You bet!!!

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