Durga Puja, the most celebrated festival among the Bengalis, rejoices the return of Goddess Durga to her paternal home with her son Ganesha, Kartik, and daughter Laxmi, and Saraswati. Goddess Durga is also known as the Adi Shakti. She came to be known as Durga after killing the demon Durgo or Durgam.
The Story of Devi Durga
The most well-known story of Goddess Durga is killing the demon Mahishasura, who could not be killed by any male because of the boon received from Lord Brahma. Mahishasura fought the Gods and forced them out of their abode as he knows they cannot renege on the boon they had granted. On the situation, all Gods and Goddesses appealed to Lord Vishnu for help. From the power of all Gods and Goddesses emerged the Devi Durga. The Gods bestowed with their weapons to defeat the demon, Mahishasura. With the mountain lion, she killed the demon and brought back peace.
Forms of Durga Puja
Basanti Puja is performed in the first fortnight of Chaitra. The origins of Basanti Puja dates back to the time of King Surath, who had lost his kingdom. Advised by a wise man to worship Durga, he did so and had his kingdom restored.
Akal Bodhan Puja derives from the worship of the goddess performed by Ramachandra of Ayodhya in autumn. Requests the goddess to seek her blessings for his fight against Ravana. Since then, the autumnal Puja has come to be known as Akalbodhon or Untimely Invocation.
Days of Durga Puja
On the occasion of Durga Puja, the goddess is invoked on Sasthi, the sixth day of Aswin or Kartik. Puja is offered on Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, or the seventh, eighth, and ninth days respectively. The idol of the goddess is immersed in water on Dashami or the final day.
Kumari puja forms part of the Durga Puja celebrations and is observed on the Ashtami or eighth day. On this occasion, a young girl of eight or nine years is dressed like Goddess Durga and worshipped as a living replica of the goddess.
Depiction of Goddess
The Goddess Durga is usually depicted with ten hands. She is Triyambake or has three eyes. On the occasion of Durga Puja, the idols of the goddess are made of straw and clay. The idols are then painted either light golden, bright gold, or red.