Durga Puja, the greatest festival of the Hindus, is not only a religious performance, but a festival of concord and universal fraternity. The worship of goddess Durga has been prevalent since pre-historic age, as the worship of Shakti (strength). Many images of the Divine Mother in different forms and gesture were found in the excavation of Mhenjodaro and Harappa. Later on, in the Vedic period, the worship was followed by chanting hymns from the Vedas and performances of sacrifice (Yagnas).This system of puja is being continued till the day.
As the mythology goes, Goddess Durga appeared in different forms during critical times to kill the demons and protect the universe. She is the personification of strength and saviour of mankind. According to mythology (Kalika Puranam), Goddess Durga was invoked and given the task to kill “Mahisasure” and free heaven from the clutches of the demons. Again she was prayed and worshipped by the exiled king ‘Suratha’, to get back his lost kingdom. It was performed in the season of spring (Vasanta) and hence, it is known as ‘Vasanti’ puja’. Durga puja, which is performed in the autumn, is known as ‘Okal Bodhon’, means awakening untimely. According to ‘Purana’, autumn is the time of rest and sleep for the goddess. But Ramachandra, helplessly invoked the goddess untimely, in autumn, and worshipped her to acquire strength to kill Ravana and rescue Sita. This autumnal Durga puja is most popular in the North East region, particularly in Bengal.
This Autumnal Durga Puja came into practice in Bengal during the middle age. In ‘Chandimangal’, authored by Kavikankan Mukundaram Chakravarty, we find the socioreligious picture of the sixteenth century, when goddess Durga was worshipped as Devi Chandika. In the Eighteenth century, the merchants and zamindars of Bengal started performances of Durga Puja in 1757, after the defeat of Nawab Siraj-ud-daulla; with the main prayer to the goddess to drive away the British power, who captured the motherland and tortured the Indians like demons. Gradually that Autumnal Durga puja earned popularity and had been spreading throughout the Northeast; and now, almost all over India and abroad, this puja is performed with full gaiety and piety.
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