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Durga Puja(Sharadiya Navratri) In North East India

September 29, 2011

A Very Happy Durga Puja (Navratras) To All Of You .

Sharad Navratri is widely celebrated in different ways throughout the India.In Sanskrit the word Navratri means nine nights.In the North East part of India it is celebrated as DurgaPuja.The dates of Durga Puja celebrations are set according to the traditional Hindu Calendar in the month of Ashwin which is the beginning of the winters.It falls in the months of Sep -Oct.As Durga Puja represents celebration of the Goddess as Shakti ,all her nine different forms are worshipped during these nine days.I would like to share my experiences on how i have been celebrating DurgaPuja all these years living in three different states of North -East( Assam,ArunachalPradesh and Meghalaya).With its religious significance this festival
has turned into a huge socio cultural event here.People participate in this celebration irrespective of their religion,backgrounds and beliefs.

You know the Puja is near when you find these Kumars (potters) engaged in making the clay images of the ten handed Goddess that we all worship later.The tradition of clay image making in India is as old as from 18 th century.The above picture is of Lachit Nagar area ,it is the hub of this art here in Guwahati. This job is very hard , lengthy and back breaking .The artist hardly noticed me when i clicked this picture.At a later stage these idols are decorated with beautiful clothes and jewellery.Beautiful pandals are build in different areas of the city(pandals are temporary structure made with bamboo and cloth ,these pandals are used as temporary temple to worship the goddess).While some of the pandals are simple structures, others are often elaborate works of art with themes that are based on history, current affairs and sometimes pure imagination.Pujas are mainly financed by the local people and communities, now a days we see some corporate houses coming forward as sponsors .In many part of Assam and other neighboring states the festival is celebrated in community prayer halls or Naamghar too.

The shops and malls are fully packed up from twenty to twenty five days from the festival as people shop for new clothes for themselves and their relatives.Lot of gift exchanges happens amongst friend and relatives during this time of the year.The festival starts with Mahalaya ,it is the day of invocation of the goddess to ward of evil from this earth.She is invoked by the chants of mantras and other devotional songs.We also pray and pay homage to our ancestors on this day.It is on the sixth day or Mahasashthi that the idols are inaugurated on pandals.It is said that Goddess arrives on this day to Earth accompanied by her children.Amongst the chanting and beats of drum the face of the Goddess is unveiled this day.The main puja takes place on 7th,8th and 9th day which are called Mahasaptami,Mahashtami and Mahanavami.

The above picture is of a Naamghar which has been celebrating the festival since 1935.The picture below shows the unvieled faces of the Goddess and the other Gods which are Ganesha,Laxmi, Saraswati,Kartika.You can see the very familiar pose of Ma Durga unleashing her wrath on Mahishasura a demon .It signifies the victory of good over evil.

Expert priests are appointed to perform the rituals as the whole process is very detailed and complicated.Now the next three days consists of chanting of mantras,shlokas ,aarati and offerings.Red being the favorite color of the Goddess ,one finds the head priest always dressed up in red.On the 7thday  Mahasaptami before the dawn nine types of plants are worshipped as a symbol of ma Durga.These nine plants are of Banana, Cola-cassia,Turmeric,Wood Apple,Jayanti,Pomegranate,Arum,Rice and Ashoka.A tree is dressed up as the goddess and is installed besides the gods and is worshipped.

As the priest continue with their rituals,crowd starts gathering up at the venue for offering their prayers. A welcome speech by the organizers announces the timings of different rituals and other cultural events .Durga is worshiped in the form of cosmic knowledge –Mahasaraswati.
Traditional drummers are called from nearby villages/areas. They are an integral part of puja.The beautiful images ,the sound of sankha(conch shell)the chanting of mantras,beating drums , the smell of scented flowers and incense sticks add a lot of charm to the rituals. Inside the hall/pandal ladies gather to sing durganaam( devotional songs for the goddess). The whole community becomes one family during this festival. During evening hours aarti is performed-it is one of the main attraction as the priest offers the light from the wicks soaked in ghee to the deity in a rhythmic dance like manner .The drummers play the drums non stop throughout the aarti.Aaarti is done in the spirit of humility and gratitude.It symbolizes five elements,earth,wind,fire,water and ether.

On the 8th day or Mahaashtami ,devotees gather again to offer pushpanjali (flower-offerings).Kumari puja is performed where little girls are worshipped at the goddess.Important sandi puja is performed later to interlink ashtami and navami .

It is also the time when we prepare Boloy,a yellow colored holy wrist band made of cloth which contains rice grains,mustard seeds,aparajita leaves and durva.Boloys are distributed on the day of Dasahami amongst the devotees. You can see yellow cloth and the ingredients that are used in making of a Boloy. On morning hrs outside the pandals/prayer halls one can notice many stalls where ladies group sell their home made sweets ,clothes and other handicrafts. To encourage the young kids for more active participation various competitions are held .After aarti and prasad distribution people enjoy cultural evenings.Evening also includes visiting various pandals of the city/town. The 9th day or Mahanavami is the concluding day of puja.As usual chanting of mantras and puja is offered to the goddess.A bhog is offered to the goddess which is later distributed amongst the devotees.Another attractive feature of puja is Khichuri prasad on the day of navami .It is a dish made with a mixture of various lentils and rice grains. Dashami or the 10th day is the day when the devotees bid a tearful farewell to the goddess.It is a very highly emotional day for all. Goddess is prepared for her departure — sound of drums,chants,devotional songs and offerings of flowers and the rice grains are showered at the images.

As the goddess is finally lifted the roaring sound of Durga Ma Ki Jai almost deafens ones ears.Moist eyes are norm .Finally the idols are carried in a procession around the locality and immersed in a nearby river or pond.Devotees bid her farewell with an invitation to come back again the next year. With tearful eyes and songs we say goodbye to her !

  Will be away for two weeks from blogger as i am visiting my mom and my brother’s family .Until then Happy Blogging .

Related Link : do check this link if interested to know more on Durga Puja  Evolution Of Durga Puja

  1. ♥ •˚。°°Olá, amiga! 。♥。● ♥• ˚。˚ Boa semana!♥ •˚。Beijinhos.•˚。Brasil..(░)(░)(░)(♥)(░)..(░)(░)

  2. woww. awesome yar..belated greetings kavi…know what? had been to the Bangali assn puja in dubai with a dear friend..and rememberd u…tc..

  3. OH MY GOD — the pic of the heads!!lovely write-up Kavita

  4. Thank you so much for this wonderful post, Kavita. I love how you take us to your country and explain how the traditions are celebrated. I feel like I was right there with you. Our banker, Muneera is from India and I told her about you and how much I am able to learn from you.

  5. Wonderful collection. You 've also narrated it well.

  6. A lovely post with pictures so delicately interwoven!

  7. bom dia kavitadeve ser uma emoção unica participar dessa festa,amo essa festas religiosas.querida o seu país è maravilhoso com sua historia e sua dia ainda quero conhecer!1você conhece a Itália???bacione

  8. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such lovely birthday wishes. That really means a lot. Cake will be ready when you get here!

  9. more posts please, Kavita! 🙂

  10. Gosh, how interesting–your culture, so different. And yet, are not we all so much similar to one another?Thanks for dropping by tonight. I thought this post looked familiar, now I see…dated September 29!!!

  11. no new updates….busy with festivals…????BTW, Happy Diwali 😀

  12. Nice article but a long time ago, are you not blogging anymore?Greetings,Filip

  13. Wish you a very Happy Diwali.

  14. HiDropped by accidentally. And what a treat it was to read your post.Great set of photographs and wonderful vivid descriptions.Pl do visit my blog,

  15. आपके पोस्ट पर आना बहुत अच्छा लगा । मेरे पोस्ट पर आपका स्वागत है । दीपावली की शुभकामनाएं ।

  16. Thanks for sharing.Happy Durga Pooja and navratri….

  17. happy Diwali Kavita..dint see you for long..hope everything is good!

  18. Thought of you at my dental check up today, Kavita

  19. Wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali and a Joyful New Year:)Looking forward to your posts this new year:)

  20. °º♫°º✿º° ✿♥ ♫° ·.Amiga, boa semana!Beijinhos.Brasil.°º♫°º✿º° ✿♥ ♫° ·.

  21. sorry dr ji.i could not be in touch for sometime..otherwise gr8 frinds like u r always in my mind…sure u doing well..stay connected n keep the cheers..wishes always u r a wonderful friend

  22. Kavita,I have been irregular but do make efforts to visit as and when I can. Thanks for wishes and such informative write up. May God bless you. Take care

  23. ♡°º✿º° ✿✿♡°Olá, amiga!Bom fim de semana.Beijinhos.Brasilº✿º° ✿✿♡°

  24. Interesting post…cheers!

  25. I want to thank you for your prayers and comments.

  26. The pics took me on a journey 🙂

  27. hey boss..waiting 2 c yr next post..for so long…cheers n wishes always

  28. belated wishes for durga poojanice visual treat to our eyeswell captured photos…thanks

  29. Thanks a lot to all of you 🙂

  30. So, you're back. I just arrived too.

  31. you havent written anything yet? hmwell, you know you've changed your display pic & i couldn't recognize you on my blog! i am so used to you with the shades & that particular hair cut & all

  32. Hi Just happened to be surfing & dropped in. Wonderful series of pics on Durga Puja. Conveys the flavor of the festival so beautifully. Pl visit my blog at your convenience.

  33. I knew Durga puja was very big and elaborately celebrated in the North. I never knew the details though. Thanks to you, I now know! In the South, there is a relatively quiet Navarathri celebrated by Brahmins where they have Golu – Display of idols and crafts on various handmade steps. But I am not very familiar with the rituals though! I used to go mainly for the sundal and vada which were distributed generously to all kids, back then! 🙂 Destination Infinity

  34. Nice pictures…Greetings from france,Pierre

  35. Interesting post..

  36. Hi Kavita,This was a wonderful post and I truly enjoyed it!Thank you!Thinking of you tonight and visiting as I've missed you.Have not been doing much visiting lately as not feeling so well and very busy too!Take care and be well…Margie xP.S The new profile picture is so beautiful!

  37. Kavita,No post or visit for more than a month. Hope all is well. Take care

  38. º°❤Olá, amiga!Boa semana!Beijinhos. º° ✿ ♫° Brasil ·.♪❤♥

  39. oh my god……it's so eloborate…loved pics..

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