Saturday, October 3, 2009

Durga Puja...the mythology...the rituals - part 2

There are references of Durga Maa in the epics of Ramayana & Mahabharata. It is said that in the time of Puranas, traditionally, Goddess Durga was worshipped in the spring season. Thus Durga Puja was also known as the Basanti Puja. However, during Treta Yug, Ram had crossed the Ocean with his Vanar Vahini (monkey army) & travelled to Lanka to end the tyranny of Ravan, the demon King & free his beloved wife Sita from the clutches of Ravan. Since Ravan was extremely powerful & was under protection of heavenly boons, Ram was advised by Narad to invoke the Goddess Durga, the epitome of Shakti. So though it was autumn time, Ram preponed the rituals & worshipped the Devi. Ram came to know that Devi would be pleased, if he offered her one hundred blue Lotuses. But travelling all over the place, Ram could only manage to gather ninety nine Lotuses. Since time was running out, Ram decided to cut & offer one of his eyes, as they were said to resemble the beauty of a blue Lotus. Just when he was about to do so, Goddess Durga appeared before him & stopped him. She also blessed him with victory. It is said that with her blessings, Ram was able to kill Ravan on the same Vijaya Dashami day & bring back peace & prosperity on earth.

That is why it is called ‘Akal Bodhan’ or the untimely Pujas. Over the years, ‘Akal Bodhan’, has become the traditional Durga Pujas for the Bengalis over the world. Interestingly, in Durga Puja, the Bengalis, claim that the Goddess Durga is visiting her parents, travelling from Kailash Parbat (home abode of Shiva & Parvati) to Bhoolok(the Earth), where her parents reside. (will write about this separately in details)..........

It all starts with Vishwakarma Puja, which normally falls on the 17th September every year. According to mythology, Vishwahkrama is known as the principal architect of the Gods……..the all who had fabricated , designed & created the entire Universe at the behest of Lord Brahma(Lord of Creation). He is also credited to creating the various missiles used in the mythological era. Vishwakarma is regarded as the supreme worker, the very essence of excellence & quality in craftsmanship. Vishwakarma Puja is celebrated in all industrial houses, artists, craftsmen etc & is observed on Kanya Sankranti day, normally on 17th September, which marks the beginning of the festive seasons, the first of the occasions being the Ganesh Puja on Ganesh Chaturthi.

Mahalaya, is the new moon day or Amavasya, ending the Pitr Paksha & the beginning of the Devi Paksha. According to ancient scriptures, this day is considered to be extremely auspicious for making offerings to the fore fathers & praying for the peace of the departed souls. This day, also known as “Torpon”, people throng river side, early in the morning, especially the Ganges, or visit temples like Trambakeshwar (near Nasik, Maharashtra),to make offerings & perform rites. For the Bengalis, this day starts very very early in the morning, with recitals & shlokas & beautiful musical renditions on the Devi over the radio… Since 1930s it has been the soul stirring voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra, over the radio, which we have all grown up hearing these recitals over the years, & the magic & the enchanting music still enthralls every Bengali…….where ever he or she is.

"Ya devi sarbabhuteshu, sakti rupena sanksthita
Namasteshwai Namasteshwai Namasteshwai namo namaha...."
to be continued.............