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Durga Puja

Sweet-smelling joss sticks, delicious food, and theatre are just some of the things that symbolize Durga Puja. One of the annual celebrations of Goddess Durga, this festival is one of India's most fantastic religious gatherings. Spread over ten days, the celebrations might vary across states. While some states observe six days out of ten for prayers and ceremonies, states like West Bengal carry on for at least two weeks, after which different avatars of the Goddess are worshipped.

India is a vast country, and the same festival can have different rituals and faces across its geography. For example, the northern part of the country calls this festival Navratri (nine nights), while the last four days are called "Maha Saptami," "Maha Ashtami," "Maha Navami," and "Maha Dashami." These four are particularly important to devotees as they are celebrated throughout the country with much pomp and splendor.

So when did it all begin, and what's the legend that started the celebrations?

Durga Puja 2023 Date

Durga Puja in 2023 will start on Friday, 20th October, and end on Tuesday, 24th October. The celebrations of Durga Puja typically begin seven days after the 'Mahalaya.' 

Legend and history of Durga Puja

Goddess Durga is known to all Hindus as the destroyer of evil and is characterized everywhere with ten arms holding different weapons. She uses a lion as her mount and is shown killing a demon or asura at her feet. Other names for the Goddess would be Amba, Chandika, Gauri, Parvati, Mahishasuramardini, and Bhavani. According to Hindu scriptures, the Goddess will protect the righteous if respected.

As it's celebrated today, the Durga Puja festival has roots in ancient Hindu traditions and had its first large-scale celebration in the early 16th century in West Bengal. Since then, it has evolved into one of the most popular festivals in the country. It played a huge role in uniting people from Bengal and other parts of the country during the Indian Independence movement. The idol of Goddess Durga was considered an icon of the freedom struggle, and fighters would pray to her before going on their nocturnal political escapades.

The festival itself has quite an exciting myth powering it. With celebrations occurring every year during the Hindu month of Ashwin (which falls between September and October), it commemorates the moment when Lord Rama invokes the Goddess's name before fighting the demon Ravana. Although the time is different from the conventional Durga Puja, this celebration falls in spring, which is why it's also called "Akal-Bodhan" or "out-of-season" worship. If the legends and myths are to be believed, Lord Rama started the puja by offering 108 blue lotuses and lighting 108 lamps.

Origins of modern-day celebrations

The first Durga Puja, although held in the early part of the 16th century, didn't evolve into what we see today until the early 17th century. Organized by Bhabananda Mazumdar of Nadiya, the first Autumn Durga Puja was finally held in 1606.

Ask anyone who belongs to the Bengali community, and they will tell you that they look forward to the community Durga Puja every year. Even this has roots in history. This credit, however, goes not to kings and zamindars but to 12 friends from Guptipara in Hoogly (West Bengal). They came together, collected contributions from locals, and began to conduct a large-scale Durga Puja for the community in 1790. This slowly evolved and made its way to Kolkata, where it was adopted to become what we see today only in 1910 when the community puja finally held sway across the country. Now the most dominant version of all celebrations for the Goddess, the institution of the community puja, contributes significantly to Hindu Bengali culture.

The celebrations across the country

While originated in West Bengal, the Durga Puja has spread to almost all of the country. With the capital being moved to Delhi, many Bengalis moved, bringing their beliefs and festivals into the state. They worked in Government offices and formed groups to celebrate the festival with as much vigor as someone residing in Kolkata at the time. The first puja in Delhi in 1910 consecrated the 'mangal Kalash' that symbolizes the deity. Durga Puja 2023 date will not be any different as it begins on 11th October.

While Durga Puja 2023 is celebrated across India, non-resident Indian communities worldwide also get together to celebrate the festival. One colossal pandal is set up in New York City, where people can congregate to offer prayers to the Goddess. Even California has a substantial Indian population and celebrates it with gusto.

Travel and transport

So, for Durga Puja 2023, where are you planning to travel? Be it any city in India, redBus will make your commute easier with great deals and discounts to whichever destination you want! You will also find a lot of seats on buses to Kolkata if you book early, not to mention attractive discounts. So, what are you waiting for? Go to the redBus website or download their app to book your festive travels today!

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