Bhubaneswar: Dussehra or Durga Puja is the ceremonial worship of Maa Durga, and is one of the most important festivals of the country as it also celebrates traditional culture and rituals. Though Navratri entail ten days of fast, feast and worship, the last four days (Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami) are celebrated with grandeur and devotion.
Durga Sasthi or Maha Sasthi is the day when Goddess Durga arrives in the mortal world. It is also believed that Parvati (aka Maa Durga), the wife of Lord Shiva comes to the home of her father from her husband’s place with her children on this particular day.
So with Maha Sasthi, Durga Puja begins with full pomp and grandeur, and is followed by four days full of mirth and splendour. All the puja pandals get set for the D-day as the most important feature of this day is the unveiling of the face of the idol, which is done by chanting of mantras and singing devotional songs.
Kalparamva (the beginning of the Puja), Bodhan (the consecration of Ma Durga’s idol), Amantran (inviting the Goddess) and Adhivas (sanctifying the stay of the Goddess in the exact spot where the puja is being held) — are performed in community puja marquees and households where the deity is being worshipped with zeal.
According to the epic Ramayana, before attacking Ravana in Lanka to free his wife Sita, Lord Rama had performed Durga Puja in autumn — a time when the gods sleep, according to the Hindu religious texts.
Rama had to first awaken the goddess prematurely, and as such, the awakening in the autumnal festival is called “Akal (untimely) Bodhan”.
However, mythology also states that the puja celebrates the annual descent of Goddess Durga, the slayer of the demon Mahishashur, accompanied by her four children — Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati — on Earth to visit her parents.
The goddess, astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her ten hands, stays for four days to eradicate all evil from Earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva in Kailash on Dashami.
Many women perform a special puja on the day of Durga Shashti and pray for their child’s prosperity.