Sweet-smelling joss sticks, lots of 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 across the country. 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. 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 with a lot of pomp and splendor throughout the country.
So when did it all begin, and what’s the legend that started the celebrations?
Durga Puja 2021 Date
Durga Puja in 2021 will start on Monday, 11th October and will end on Friday, 15th October. The celebrations of Durga Puja normally begin 7 days after the 'Mahalaya'.
Legend and history
Goddess Durga is known to all Hindus as the destroyer of evil and is characterized everywhere with ten arms holding different kinds of 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.
The Durga Puja festival, as it’s celebrated today 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 to be an icon for the freedom struggle, and fighters would pray to her before going on their nocturnal political escapades.
The festival itself has quite an interesting myth powering it. With celebrations occurring every year during the Hindu month of Ashwin (falls between September and October), it commemorates the moment when Lord Rama invokes the name of the Goddess before going to fight 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 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 way back 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 greatly to Hindu Bengali culture.
The celebrations across the country
While originated in West Bengal, the Durga Puja has spread to almost all parts of the country. With the capital being moved to Delhi, a lot of Bengalis moved as well, 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. With the first puja in Delhi in 1910, it consecrated the ‘mangal Kalash’ that symbolizes the deity. Durga Puja 2021 date is not going to be any different as it begins on the 11th of October.
While Durga Puja 2021 is celebrated across India, non-resident Indian communities across the world also get together to celebrate the festival. There is one huge pandal that’s 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 2021, where are you planning to travel? Be it any city in India, redBus is sure to make your commute easier with great deals and discounts till 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!
NOTE: In light of the recent Coronavirus pandemic, we at redBus would like to urge you to take all necessary precautions when you travel and follow every instruction provided by your local government. If you're not planning on traveling, practice social distancing and stay indoors to help slow down the spread of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus disease and prevent it from spreading any further. Stay safe!