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Durga Puja : The Grand Festival

Dr. Sushil Rudra

” Devi propannarte devi prosida “

Durgapuja The Grand Festival/image:www.kalpatarurudra.org/jpg
Durgapuja The Grand Festival/ image:www.kalpatarurudra.org/jpg
Durgapuja The Grand Festival/image:www. kalpatarurudra.org/jpg


Durgapuja the grand festival/ image: www.kalpatarurudra.org/jpg

Durga Puja: the grand festival of Bengal is now a global ceremony. But not only do Bengalees enjoy it but most of the Indians come together to celebrate this grand festival. Somewhere some Indians observe Navratri just before Durgapuja.

I spent two years in Rajasthan, Kota. There Bengalees took initiative for celebrating the Durga Puja. We participated there along with my family in the cultural programs. Puja committee arranges Lunch and dinner. In the Evening, after Aarati, starts cultural programs.

In Bengal, this festival is super duper. From rich to poor all are busy to enjoy the fest. Devi Paksha starts from Mahalaya.


Before Mahalaya, cleaning every room is a must. Home is our Temple, so it’s just to be cleaned every corner of the house. Purchasing new dresses in the market is one of the attractive and compulsive matters to the household.

One of my Quora friends asked me why atheists of Bengal don’t alloGoddess Durga as the Puja of Bengal and Bengalees. Here’s in details :

¶ In fact, it’s very difficult to answer when and from where this festival first started. From the pre-historical period to modern times, we get a history of the evolution of Goddess Durga.

At present, we celebrate Mother Durga along with her family members in the Puja Mandap and some individual houses. But I doubt that it was not erstwhile as today celebrated. People with his imagination made this form of the idol of the goddess in course of time.


In addition, imagination and love both are active to form such deities. According to our imagination, we portrait the form of God and goddesses. So the more active and robust your imagination, the more various form of Goddess Durga.

When this Puja was Started! After a rigorous study, I am sure that this puja culture was started in the ancient Vedic era, and after many many evolutions, is today’s modern gorgeous forms.

First, our ancient society introduced nature worship. As a deity, Varun came first, then Mitra and finally Mother Earth. In Veda, Pritthidevi is called by the name ” Aditi”. During the Mahenjadaro civilization, people celebrated goddess of Earth.

Professor Hopkins ( E. W. Hopkins) identified Aditi as Durga. Aditi or Earth again is in Veda as the mother of Surya.

Durga and Shiva both are Vedic deities according to Scholar Weber and Muir, but Max Mueller didn’t agree with them.

He told them non – Vedic deities. Both were non – Aryan deities according to Max Mueller.

Kirat, Shabar, Pulind – all these people generally worshipped them. Max Mueller told that the Durga deity was considered as a Vedic aristocratic deity like Rattri, Kali, Rodoshi, Niriti in Brahmana Samhita.

But Indian and some other Western scholars didn’t agree with this opinion. So, we can consider the two most important deities as Vedic deities.

 Rudra or Shiva through Vedic, but Vishnu was a major deity. His influence was much to Vedic society. ( Hopkins).

Sir George Grierson wisely remarks that these Shudras are the branches of the Aryans. Hence, both the deities are of Vedic order.

These people lived in various places in Aaryavarta. But socially sometimes these people were abandoned, but ultimately, in course of time, they have got the same status.

Shiva and Durga are the deities of Aryans. Though Shiva was regarded as inferior. As an instance, Shiva was not invited during the holy Yongya ritual by Dukkha.

Prajapati Dokkha arranged the Ashwamedh Yoggya ritual on the bank of river Ganga. This gratis still existed in Hardwar.

Being not invited by his father–in–law Shiva angrily disrupted the ritual by creating Vairav Virvhadra and Parbati Mahakali. This tale, I think, all of us came to know from childhood. Almost all Hindus know this myth.

Mahakali or Vadrakali is none other than the goddess Durga.

We pronounce during sacrifice any Naibeddya ( the fruits and sweets) before deities Durga – ” Om Dakkhayoggya Binashinoi Mahaghoraoi *** Bhaddrakalloi Om Hrim Durgaoi Namah.

¶¶ Both the deities are Vedic in Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas. In Ramayana Shiva is called Shankara. And He is Rudra in Vedic literature.

In Taitoriyo Aarannyok we see Durga, Mahadev, Kartick, Ganesha and Nandi.

It’s distinctly pronounced in Taitario Aarannoyk (10/1/7): Kattyaonoi Vidmahe Konnya Kumaring Dhimohi. Tanno During Prochodayat. It’s a Gayatri mantra.

We In Upanishad, the name of Durga is to be found. In Rik Veda, Goddess Durga was considered as the flame–form goddess.

In his book ” Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology, Mr Dawson referred to some names of Durga et al Uma, Gauri, Parvati, Chandi, Chamunda, Kali, Kapalini, Bhavani, Vijaya.

Hopkins also wrote some other names like Shailosuta, Parvati, Ruddrani, Girija, Shailyarajputtri, Girirajputtri, Girisha and so on.

¶¶ However, Uma and Aamma are the same in Indian society. Amma is Ma in Bengali. People of almost all provinces of India call Amma. Ma Durga is a universal mother. She is our worshiper.

As described by Thomas Inman: Ammah or Ummah, ‘Mother’ is the same. All those forms of Uma ( Amm, the great mother – goddess) go back to the primitive and universal cult of the mother goddess in popular mythology appears as Kalama and Ilamma, which is as descriptive or as kin.

¶¶ Durga is familiar with various names and relationships. In Aarannoyk her name is ‘Vairachani’ who was the daughter of Surya or Agni ( 10/1/7). Kattyani and Kanyakumari are also her names.


Professor Jecbi wrote:

Rudra’s sister is Ambika in the Vajasaneya, but in Taittiyiya Aranyaka she is the spouse of Rudra, just as in the latter time. …. We find an invocation of Durga Devi, who is there Vairochini, daughter of the Sun or Fire.

In x.1.7 among verses addressed to Agni, we meet with two more names of Durga ( here called Durgi )viz KatyayaniKanyakumari. ( Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. v, page – 212 )


¶¶ Some scholars said that Debi Durga’s other name is Gauri. She is the wife of Varun in some Puran. Her other name is Ambika. Hopkins identified these Mother as Bhadrakali, Mahakali, Maheswari and Sree Durga.

Shiva is familiar with Gaur, as he used to play with Parvati and Bhutas. Durga was the wife of Gaur, so her name is Gauri. Several scholars are in the same opinion.

¶¶ Sten Konow , an Indologist distinctly said :

” We can, in Kali and Kali’s worship, find some traces which point to the existence of an old, not only Aryan but Indo – European goddess, whose worship is continued in an unbroken line in the Durgapuja of the present day .”

Some scholars remarked that Ashwamedh Yoggya turns into today’s Durgapuja. Some foreign scholars also noticed the similarity between Durga and Greek goddess Demeter Chloe. He wrote : 

The Saradiya – Puja or the autumnal worship of Durga is analogous to the service of the Greek goddess of Demeter Chloe that took place on the sixth of Thargelian .

Swami Sankarananda remarked that Ashwamedh Yogya is today’s Durgapuja or Basanti Durgothsab. Rama Chandra started In Autumn this Durgapuja. And still, it’s continuing with its latest version.

Change is the another name of time. King Surath worshipped Durga in the spring many years before Ramachandra .

The autumnal Durgapuja had started after a long period, may it be thousand of thousands of years after the Basanti Durgothsab.

That time Agrahayan was the first month of the year. This time in Chitra Nakskhtra the Sun exists in between Kannya and Tula Rashi. But at the time of Ramachandra Surya exists in Rebati Nakkhattra.

Therefore, Basanti Durgothsab started many many years ago as Autumnal Durgapuja. But it’s now the most major puja of Hindus.

Basanti Durgothsab took place in some places or homes in Bengal, but the Autumnal Durgapuja festival or Sharadia Durgothsab is the grand festival of the Hindus throughout the world.

Why puja commenced in Autumn?

Vidyabhusan Amulyacharan discussed the time of worshipping Durga Puja. – why it commences in the Autumn? he scholarly said that Durgapuja is the holy Sharodotsab. From the Vedic periods, people celebrated it consistently in various forms.

In the Vedic era ” Esh ” means Ashwin ( a Bengali month ) and ” Uj” means Kartick ( After Ashwin comes Kartik).

According to Vedic sage, Ashwin and Kartick both the months are Sharat season. This season is the ideal time for worshipping. Ambika is another name of the goddess Durga. Ambika means Ashwin.

The worship of the Autumn season is ultimately the worshipping of Devi Durgapuja, the grand festival of Bengal. So this season is the best time for the worshipping of Durgapuja.

So we can conclude that worshipping Surya puja gradually turns into Durgapuja in course of huge time. Even it has changed its Rupa(Forms) and Rasa ( innate significance) and took a modern gorgeous silhouette – it’s true.

Read more: Durga Stotram

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Saraswati -Puja – Bengal

Dr. Sushil Rudra


Image: PUJA PANDAL IN COLLEGE CAMPUS /kalpatarurudra.org/Saraswati Puja: the festival of love and unity /image

Durgapur , West Bengal

Every year in BASANT PANCHAMI , We celebrate SARASWATI PUJA : the festival of love and unity . Though it is of Hindus , but some other sections of our society also join and celebrate this festival.

¶¶ SARASWATI PUJA , generally is celebrated by the students as well as art – interested people of Indian societies irrespective of all caste and creed . It is also worshiped in Nepal , Srilanka , Bali ,Maldeep , Thaland and Bangladesh . Here is a lesson for the students that they should know that this festival is festival of love and unity. So they must learn to love others and always try to live with a sense of unity.

¶¶ The festival marks the arrival of the Spring, therefore, it’s also called VASANT PANCHAMI. Farmers across almost all the provinces of India celebrate Basant Panchami with much fervor as yellow flowers of mustard crops adorn their fields.

But , some states observes the day by offering prayers to Goddess SARASWATI : the festival of love and unity . According to Hindu mythology , it’s believed that the Goddess SARASWATI was born on the day of VASANT PANCHAMI.

¶¶ The people, generally students, both boys and girls wear clothes of yellow color , and assemble to their Puja Mandap to pray as well as offer Bhog to Goddess of knowledge ,SARASWATI . They pray for knowledge and success ; as Ma SARASWATI is the Hindu Goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom and wealth.

¶¶ Saraswati Puja : The festival of love and Unity :

There is another attraction of this ceremony. It a special for its beautiful and delicious Bhog like labra (mixed veg) ,Khichuri , Beguni, Paayesh , Sandesh , Sweet Saffron rice , Papar fried and Chutney.

¶¶ Today , on 16 th January, 2021 , We, early in the morning take bathe and remain fast until the Puja finished. In my student life ( still now I think me a student), we became engaged in collecting subscription from the members of our Hostel in every areas of the then Calcutta ( now Kolkata) for a month before this festival.

We had made Special for the special Bhog to distribute our guest . We had to decorate the entire Hostel with light . Our Hostel managing committee along with Superintendent usually came to visit the idol and pandel in the evening . Sometimes their relatives also attended the fest . There was an introduction season when we had to introduce ourselves before the Hostel Governing Body members. I have a memory in my still after more than three decades when I was a PG student in the University of Calcutta . I spent my student life in a hostel near Thanthonia Kalibari. During Saraswati Puja I sang a song of Rabindranath Tagore (Rabindrasangit) before the governing body members and their families during Saraswati puja. Even the song I sang that day still I can recollect it. So I would say that Saraswati Puja is the festival of love and unity in true sense of the term .

¶¶ SARASWATI PUJA was something special to us because of its delicious foods . That day , varieties menu was to be arranged for lunch like home . But , the priest did not come at the right time. They had a pact scheduled , because the Puja pandal was more than the priest . That’s why they failed to come at the right time. However, after completion of Puja and fantabulous lunch , we generally used to visit other pandels of Kolkata city.

¶¶ During my service life , I didn’t get opportunity to enjoy like before. Because, it was a tradition of our century – old College (Krishnath College) to be maintained secular atmosphere , so no Puja celebrated by the students. But once it was happened not in College premises, but just in front of the College gate .

¶¶ This year , I visit two Puja pandals . I notice , students wearing yellow dresses roam here and there with their friends and getting selfie . Music is running on . We take some Bhog . They arranged a lot . Students wear yellow dresses Sari , Panjabi. Beautiful songs are being played in the sound box . With the music, they are dancing . It’s a very joyful ceremony to them .

¶¶ In this College venue, students of Muslim community are arranging all the important works from marketing to Prosad distribution. Yes , some Hindu boys and girls also there to assist them .In fact , they are students, not Hindu or Muslim. There is Unity in Diversity . There’s only love to each other , no confirmation are there. Obviously Saraswati Puja is the festival of love and unity.

¶¶ But , the condition is not same in villages of Bengal . Three – four decades ago , in every school of Bengal , SARASWATI PUJA was celebrated , but at present , Muslim community students are demanding to continue Friday Prayer in Schools, as there take place SARASWATI PUJA. They are saying if there is no problem for SARASWATI PUJA in school , why not Friday Prayer!


••The problem is there , if Puja is granted in the premises , why is it problem in continuing the Friday Prayer in school premises ?

This is absolutely different matter. SARASWATI PUJA is related to the student and their learning place as well , but there is no connection of Friday Prayer with all the students . Only a section of people used to go Masjid for prayer , not in Schools.

Image: kalpatarurudra.org// Saraswati Puja: the festival of love and unity/jpg

Besides, SARASWATI PUJA is a one day or two days festival, whereas Friday Prayer of Muslim community students are of ones a week, four days ritual in a month and 48 days in a year. Former is just festival , whereas later is ritual. Ritual is your own , but festival is for all .

For festival, schools, college and other institutions are being closed to enjoy it, but for regular ritual we don’t allow for any holidays, or suspension of our working time. So it is a vital issue of the time in Bengal.

Who Can Observe this Festival?

Hindus, Sikhs and Jains in India, Nepal , Bangladesh, Pakistan, Java and Bali (Indonesia) celebrate this fabulous festival.

When it is celebrated?

¶¶ This festival is being observed in every year on the fifth day of the bright half of the Hindu luni – solar calendar month of Magha, which typically falls in late January, or first week of February. In Southern States and in Bengal , the same day is called as Sri PANCHAMI.

¶¶ On the Island of Bali and Indonesia , it’s known as Bari Raya SARASWATI.

¶¶ Goddess SARASWATI is dressed with yellow clothing like the colorful flowers of Mustard crops . It is very favorite color of Mather Goddess . Hindus believe it as a Holy color.

¶¶ This festival is too celebrated, as the king of season, Basanta will be started 40 days after this festival. VASANT means spring and PANCHAMI means fifth . So , according to Hindu Calendar , it is the fifth day of the month Magha. Every year this day is celebrated as VASANT PANCHAMI/ SRI PANCHAMI/ SARASWATI PUJA.

¶¶ Again this festival is marked the start of preparation for other major Hindu festival of Holi and Holika , which take place forty days later.

¶¶ There is another significance of this festival . In many parts of India , it’s considered as an auspicious day for kids to start their first writing words with their fingers , or study some creative art field.

¶¶ Sometimes, somewhere, it is found Ganesha is placed by the side of The idol of Ma SARASWATI for worship who is the God of Success.

¶¶ Saraswati Mantra usually recite in the time of Anjali (sacrifice) with taking some yellow flowers in hand and after reciting the mantra , it is to be given on the feets of Goddess SARASWATI.

¶¶ We enchant a pronam mantra : ‘Vadra kalloi Namo Nittam Saraswottay Namo Namoh ‘.