Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsava is a Hindu festival which is celebrated every year in the Southern part of Asia in which the Hindu goddess Durga is worshiped. The traditional Hindu calendar decides the date of the festival and it goes on for six days. This festival is celebrated to mark the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura, the buffalo demon. It is celebrated to rejoice the victory of good over evil.
Durga Puja is celebrated all over the country with great joy and enthusiasm and in states like Assam, Bihar, Manipur, West Bengal, Tripura and Jharkhand a five day holiday is announced. West Bengal and Tripura celebrate Durga Puja with extreme joy and it seems that the whole city is on the streets during this festival. It is the most significant festival in Bengal as most of the Hindu Bengalis belong from there.
States like Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh etc also celebrate Durga Puja with great enthusiasm. Nepal and Bangladesh also celebrate this festival and the places like Dhaka, Khulna, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Bogra etc. have a great significance of this festival in their lives. There is a three day national holiday in these areas as the 20 percent population is Hindu. There are several cultural programs which are held during Durga Puja and a lot of people participate in it.
There are several organizations outside India which arrange for the festival’s celebration in countries like USA, Canada, Germany, Netherlands and Australia.
During the British rule in India, the prominence of the festival increased a lot and there were Hindu reformist, who indentified India with Goddess Durga and in fact, she became the icon for the Indian Independence Movement. It became one of the most celebrated festivals in the world after India got independence.
Durga Puja also includes worship of Lord Shiva who is the consort of Goddess Durga, an aspect of Goddess Parvati. The children of Goddess Durga who are Ganesha, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kartikeya are also worshiped in this festival. People worship the Mother Nature with nine types of plants which signify the nine divine forms of Goddess Durga.
In the modern times, Durga Puja is celebrated by putting up decorated pandals or tents and putting up decorated idols of Goddess Durga killing Mahishasura. Several programs also take place in the celebration and are a treat for the kids as several pandals host fancy dress competition and other talent shows for the entertainment of the people. The pandals are also made on several themes which are decided by the Puja Committees of West Bengal. The idols are made and decorated by students studying art and architecture and even professional idol makers also do so.
Durga Puja also gets a lot of attention from the media covering all the idols of the city which are decorated beautifully. There are local awards for the best pandala in the city too.