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Durga Puja Tradition
Maa Durga is the Goddess of divine power against all evils.

The story goes that Mahisasur, the Buffalo Demon, through years of praying, received blessing from Lord Brahma, that no power can kill him which means he is invincible. But once gaining this power he started ravaging the whole world and killing people. And finally he wanted to uproot the Gods too.

The Gods, in dismay, combined their powers and shares with Maa Durga, to create a ten handed goddess as “Mahashakti” to kill Mahisasur. Each God placed his or her most potent weapon in one of her ten hands riding a lion.

Durga Puja is the biggest festival in Bengal. This is also known as Dussehra and Navratri in other parts of India.

Her return in each year in the Bengali month of Aswin (September-October). Today's most traditional image of the Bengali authentic form of the Durga is that of a ten handed goddess modelled out of clay astride a lion. Each of those hands carry a separate weapon in them except two, which holds the spear which has been struck into the chest of the demon, Mahisasur. The four children of the Goddess had also been added to the iconography - Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, Kartik, the God of beauty as well as warfare and Ganesh, the 'Siddhidata' or the starter of everything in good sense.

The Durga Puja spans over a period of ten days in case of traditional and household Pujas, though the main part of it is restricted to four days only. The main Puja, however, starts on the evening of 'Sasthi', the sixth day after the new moon, generally from beneath a 'Bel' tree for the traditional ones. In the wee hours of 'Saptami,' the next day, the 'Pran' or life of the Devi is brought from a nearby pond or river in a banana tree and established inside the image. The main puja starts thereafter and the prime time is reached in the 'Sandhikshan,' the crossover time between Ashtami and Navami. Finally, on 'Dashami,' the tenth day from the new moon, the image is immersed in a pond or river.

The drum-beats are an integral part of the Durga Puja. This special variety of the drum is known as 'Dhak'. This drum is held on the shoulder with the beating side in the bottom and is beaten with two sticks, one thick and another thin. The drum-beats with a rhythm starts right from the day of 'Sasthi' which makes feel of these auspicious Festival to all the Bengali community.

Another legend has it that Lord Rama went to rescue his abducted wife Sita from the grip of Ravana, the king of the demons in Lanka. Before starting for his battle with Ravana, Rama wanted the blessings of Devi Durga. Pleased with Rama’s devotion, Durga appeared before him and blessed him. The battle started on the saptami and Ravana was finally killed on the sandhikshan i.e. the crossover period between ashtami and navami and was cremated on dashami. Since the period of this worship was different from the conventional festival time of spring or basant, this puja is also known as akal-bodhan or worship (bodhan) in an unconventional time (a-kaal).

Especially in eastern region, Schools, colleges, offices remain closed during these four days. Bengalis in other cities in India visit their relatives in West Bengal.
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