in Sanskrit means "She who is incomprehensible or difficult to
reach." Goddess Durga is a form of Shakti worshiped for her
gracious as well as terrifying aspect. Mother of the Universe, she
represents the infinite power of the universe and is a symbol of a
festival of Durga Puja is celebrated all over India with different
festivities and rituals. Durga Puja is celebrated in the autumn, in the
month of September/October.
It is the time when the weather remains at
its best giving the atmosphere a festive mood. The advent of autumn is
impossible to overlook in any corner of the land. It arouses one from
bed at dawn, with the sound of high-pitched, ululations, the frantic
blowing of conch shells and bell metal cymbals. This simple ceremony
marks the arrival of the Mother Goddess Durga, for the festival of Durga
Durga Puja is
basically a festival with a long series of rituals followed on every day
of the Puja. Starting from the day of the Mahalaya, the days of Sashthi,
Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami or Bijoya Dashami every day has its
own unique rituals to follow. But it is not only the festival that has
rituals associated with it, but also the making of Durga idols is
governed by a series of rituals. These rituals are closely related with
the holy river Ganga.
ritual, which is most commonly followed, is that the ingredients that
are used to make the idol of goddess Durga come from the holy river. The
activity of immersing the idol in the Ganga at the end of the festival
this way points to a theme of cyclical regeneration too. Generally, the
idol of Durga is flanked by the idols of Lakshmi,
Saraswati, Kartik and
Ganesh, all of whom are believed to be her children. The goddess sits
atop a lion, which is her vahan.
The favorite tableau is of her
stabbing Asura, the demon. It is symbolic of the victory that she had
achieved for the gods over the demons.
There are endless aspects of Durga described in the Puranas and Agamas
and the iconography is consequently very varied. She is usually
pictured as having ten arms holding Sword, Conch, Discus, Rosary,
Bell, Winecup, Shielf, Bow, Arrow, and Spear. She is most often shown
riding a lion from which comes Her august name, Simhavahini, "She
who stands astride the king of beasts". She is gorgeously dressed
in royal red cloth and has several ornaments decorating Her personage.
Her hair is dressed up in a crown (karandamukuta) which then flows out
in long luxuriant tresses that are darkly luminous and soothing to the
eye. The various tools reflects the eminent supremacy that helps in
controling the universe and obey Her will.
Goddess Durga exists eternally, always abiding in her own sweet nature
and inhabits the hearts and minds of her ecstatic devotees. As Shakti
power, she shapes, nurtures, and dissolves names and forms, while as
subtle spiritual energy called Kundalini, She lights the lotuses fo
the seven centres of awareness in the sacred human body. Goddess Durga
killed the powerful demon Mahish and all his great commanders. When
demonic forces create imbalance all god unite becoming one divine
force called Shakti or Durga.
Origin of Durga - The Mythology
Devi is the great goddess of the Hindus,the consort of Shiva and she
is worshiped in various forms corresponding to her two aspects:
benevolence and fierceness. She is Uma, "light"; Gauri,
"yellow or brilliant"; Parvati, "the mountaineer";
and Jagatmata, "the-mother-of-the-world" in her milder
guise. The terrible emanations are Durga "the inaccessible";
Kali, "the black"; Chandi, "the fierce"; and
Bhairavi, "the terrible."
Durga, a beautiful warrior seated upon a tiger, was the first
appearance of the great goddess. The circumstance of her miraculous
arrival was the tyranny of the monster-demon Mahishasur, who through
terrific austerities had acquired invincible strength. The gods were
afraid of this water-buffalo bull because neither Vishnu nor Shiva
could prevail against him. It seemed that the joint energy of Shakti
was only capable of vanquishing Mahisha, and so it was the
eighteen-armed Durga who went out to do battle.
She went to battle on her ferocious mount lion, armed with the weapons
given to her by the other Gods. Durga is one of the angry and
aggressive aspects of the goddess Shakti, whose role in Hindu
mythology was to fight and conquer demons and also personify the Sakti
or female aspect of any male deity. In the battle, she fought and
killed the evil Mahishasura and restored heaven to the Gods. Since
then the goddess is invoked for protection from the powers of evil.
Durga Puja is observed in her honor, to celebrate her victory over
She has been worshiped from about 400 AD, but probably earlier, to the
present. Her literary references are chiefly the Ramayana and
Mahabharata, epic and Puranic texts, and she is mentioned by name in
Vedic literature. In general, Durga is regarded in northern India as
the gentle bride epitomizing family unity while in southern India she
is revered more in her warrior aspect.
Durgapuja, over the years, has outgrown its religious connotations
to a large extent as people all over the India celebrate it with a
gusto. There are various ways in which Ma Durga is worshiped. The
rituals and customs vary due to vast difference in the culture of
Indian States. But, all these follow the century old tradition and
practice that intermingle with historical ethos.
In Maharashtra, Durga Puja is a fun occasion. Puja is performed
each day and devotees don't remove the flower garland that is put
each day on the idol or image of the deity. After nine days all
nine are removed together. Young girls who have not attained
maturity are invited to eat, play games, dance and sing. An
elephant is drawn with rangoli and the girls play guessing games.
Then they are fed a meal of their choice.
In West Bengal, Durga Puja is five days of festivity. It hinges
around Mahalaya day, a week before the actual celebrations begin.
It was on this day that Durga was assigned the task of eliminating
evil. So the familiar pose of Durga unleashing her wrath on an out
powered assura (demon). Legend goes that Ram wanted to invoke the
blessings of Durga before his great war with Ravan. He performed
the Durga Puja despite the time of year not being right. That is
why the puja is also known as Akal Bodhon, or untimely invocation.
People of Punjab strictly observes Navratri. Some Punjabus have
only milk for seven days before breaking the fast on ashtami or
navami. They worship Durga Ma and do the aarti at home. Some of
them have fruit or a complete meal once a day and intoxicating
drinks or meat and other form of entertainment is completely
avoided. At the end of the fast devotees feed beggars or worship
little girls who spell the Shakti of the Mother Goddess.
Navratri is devoted to Amba mataji. In some homes, images of
mataji are worshiped in accordance with accepted practice. This is
also true of the temples, which usually have a constant stream of
visitors from morning to night. The most common form of public
celebration is the performance of garba or dandia-ras, Gujarat's
popular folk-dance, late throughout the nights of these nine days
in public squares, open grounds and streets.
In Kerala, Durga Puja signifies the beginning of formal education
for every child aged 3-5 years. While puja goes on in the temple
for all ten days, it is only the concluding three days which are
really important. Ashtami is the day of Ayudya Puja, when all the
tools at home are worshiped. Custom dictates that no tools be used
on this day. On navami, day, Goddess Saraswati is honored by
worshiping the books and records at home.
Thousands throng the Saraswati temple at Kottayam during this
period to take a dip in the mysterious holy pond whose source is
yet unknown. Large gatherings are also seen at the famous temples
at Thekkegram (Palghat), in which there are no idols -- only huge
mirrors. A devotee finds himself bowing before his own reflection
which indicates that God is within us.
Hindus are a minority in Jammu and Kashmir but they celebrate
their festivals with pomp and show. These days, festivities are
subdued, though. The favorite deities of Kashmir are Lord Shiva
and Serawali Ma Durga, the one who rides the tiger. Pundits and
Muslims alike vouch that Navratri is important. No big pandals
here, each Hindi house-hold does the pooja at home. All the adult
members of the household fast on water. In the evenings, fruit may
be taken. As elsewhere, Kashmiris grow barley in earthen pots.
They believe that if the growth in this pot is good, there is
prosperity all year.
The most important ritual for Kashmiri Pandits is to visit the
temple of guardian goddess Kheer Bhawani on all nine days. On the
last day of Navratri, an aarti is held at the temple after which
people break their fast. On Dussehra day, Ravana's effigy is
burnt. Devotees also visit the Hari Parbat temple.
Navratri, the festival of nights, lasts for 9 days with three
days each devoted to worship of Ma Durga, the Goddess of Valor, Ma
Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Ma Saraswati, the Goddess of
Knowledge. During the nine days of Navratri, feasting and fasting
take precedence over all normal daily activities amongst the
Hindus. Evenings give rise to the religious dances in order to
worhip Goddess Durga Maa.
1st - 3rd day of Navratri
On the first day of the Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared
in the puja room of the house and barley seeds are sown on it. On
the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 - 5 inches in length. After
the puja, these seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as
a blessing from god. These initial days are dedicated to Durga Maa,
the Goddess of power and energy. Her various manifestations,
Kumari, Parvati and Kali are all worshipped during these days.
They represent the three different classes of womanhood that
include the child, the young girl and the mature woman.
4th - 6th day of Navratri
During these days, Lakshmi Maa, the Goddess of peace and
prosperity is worshipped. On the fifth day which is known as
Lalita Panchami, it is traditional, to gather and display all
literature available in the house, light a lamp or 'diya' to
invoke Saraswati Maa, the Goddess of knowledge and art.
7th - 8th day of Navratri
These final days belong to Saraswati Maa who is worshipped to
acquire the spiritual knowledge. This in turn will free us from
all earthly bondage. But on the 8th day of this colourful
festival, yagna (holy fire) is performed. Ghee (clarified butter),
kheer (rice pudding) and sesame seeds form the holy offering to
Goddess Durga Maa.
The festival of Navratri culminates in Mahanavami. On this day
Kanya Puja is performed. Nine young girls representing the nine
forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped. Their feet are washed as a
mark of respect for the Goddess and then they are offered new
clothes as gifts by the worshiper. This ritual is performed in
most parts of the country.
Durga Puja Recipes
Potatoes (small) - 500 gms
Mustard - 1/2 table spoon
Curry leaves - 8-10 (Small)
Bay leaves - 2
Tamarind - 50 Gms
Chili Powder - 1/2 table spoon
Chilies (green) - 5
Salt according to taste
Ginger paste - 1 table spoon
Garlic paste - 1/2 table spoon
Sugar - 1 table spoon
Refined oil - 3/4 table spoon
Boil potatoes and peel off the skins. Soak tamarind in a cup of water for 10
mins. and strain the juice. Heat oil in pan and fry ginger, garlic, mustard, bay leaves with
some sugar till brown. Then add the boiled potatoes & fry until the potatoes
becomes golden brown. Then add chillies, kurry leaves, salt & add tamarind
juice. Stir & serve hot with luchi/puri.
Cauliflower - 1.
Besan - 1cup.
Posto (poppy seeds)- 1/2 teaspoon.
Chili powder-1/2 teaspoon.
Salt to taste.
Oil for deep-frying.
Baking soda (optional)- a pinch.
Cut the cauliflower into medium sized pieces. Boil them so that
they become soft on the exterior but remain hard inside.Pour besan in a large bowl and add 1 teaspoon oil. Mix
thoroughly.Add water and make batter with a relatively thick consistency.
Add the posto, chili powder and salt and whip batter well. Dip the cauliflower pieces in the batter and deep-fry them.
Wheat Flour - 500gms
Refined oil or Ghee - 2 table spoon
Salt according to taste
Warm water to knead the flour
Oil to fry
Knead 500gms of flour, 2 tablespoon of oil & salt according
to taste with warm water. Make small balls. Flatten them into round circular form.
Fry them one by one. Serve hot with other side dish.
Mung dal - 200 gms
Small whole pearl onions-10
Green chilies - 4
Milk - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 teaspoons
Salt to taste.
Ghee - 1 table spoon
Bay leaves - 4
Whole cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Fry the dry mung dal in a pan over medium heat until it becomes
brown. Wash and put mung dal to boil.
c. Simmer until dal is cooked. In a separate pan, heat ghee and fry
the bay leaves, onions and cumin seeds for a few minutes. Pour the
dal and simmer for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of milk and sugar.
A pinch of bicarbonate of soda
Powdered rice- 50gms
Water-1 and half cup
Oil for deep frying-1 and half cup
Sugar- 4 cups
Water- 4 cups for making syrup
In a pan heat together 4 cups of sugar and water. Let it boil
and simmer until the syrup is of medium consistency.
3. Remove from fire and allow it to cool. Blend together besan and 1
and half cup of water. Mix the powdered rice and bicarbonate of soda
Heat oil in a deep pan and pour the besan mixture on the hot oil
through a slotted vessel. Fry until crisp.Remove from oil with a
slotted spoon. Drain out the oil in a paper.While still hot pour in
the prepared syrup. Continue this until the besan mixture is over.
After the Bonde is soaked in the syrup remove with a slotted spoon and
spread out on a flat dish.