Wednesday, 1 December, 2021
E-paper

Durga Puja in Bangladesh and Across the World

Anwar A. Khan

Durga puja is an important festival in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism. As per Hindu scriptures, the festival marks the victory of goddess Durga in her battle against the shape-shifting asura, Mahishasura.

It is an annual Hindu event in South Asia that celebrates adoration of the Hindu goddess Durga. In Bangladesh it is celebrated broadly. It submits to all the six days experiential as Mahalaya, Maha Ashtami, Maha Saptami, Shashthi, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami.

History says that the Durga puja has been famous since the medieval time. It has urbanized and customized to the world as time approved. A substantial text exists around Durga in the Bengali language and its untimely shapes. The goddess Durga was not completely included into the Hindu pantheon mainly in Bengal. Early forms of Durga festivals were mostly private adoration in personal houses with the use of musical mechanisms such as the mandira, mridanga and smakhya.

Mantras are the essential part of Durga puja. These are accompanying by the musical beatings of dhak and flowers. These make the environment of Durga puja. Singing of mantras in Sanskrit is necessary part of the Durga Puja celebration. Durga Slokas commends Durga as sign of all celestial forces. Along with the sloka, Durga is ubiquitous as the picture of power, aptitude, calm, wealth, ethics etc.

The whole procedure of formation of the sculptures from the set of clay to the decoration is a holy process, overused by services and other rituals. The people of Hindu religious are very pious to celebrate this day with respect.

Durga Puja is a public holiday in Bangladesh. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Bangladesh is a land of holy places, and large religious festivals. The festival is a special occasion for Bengali Hindu families to come together from all over the country and celebrate with their relatives and communities.

The five day festival is celebrated with gaiety and grandeur in Bangladesh. Devotees of Durga offer prayers and seek blessings of the goddess. During the Puja, goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati as well as lord Ganesha and Kartikeya are also worshipped by devotees along with goddess Durga.

Durga calmly understands and counters the evil in order to achieve her solemn goals. Durga, in her various forms, appears as an independent deity in the Epics period of ancient India, that is the centuries around the start of the Common Era. From the medieval period up through present day, the Durga Puja has celebrated the goddess with performing arts and as a social event, while maintaining the religious worship.

The festival begins on the first day with Mahalaya, marking Durga's advent in her battle against evil. Swami Chinmayananda said, “Man, the imperfect, the bound, the sorrowful, has a thousand enemies within. He is riddled with negative thoughts, fears and yearnings. These are selfishness, jealousy, meanness, prejudice and hatred just to mention but a few. The Sadhak must get rid of these lawless villains within. With Mother Durga's kripa, these destructive masters are to be annihilated. Invoke the Mother Terrible to help us annihilate within ourselves all negative forces; all weaknesses, - all littleness.”

The festival is an old tradition of Hinduism, though it is unclear how and in which century the festival began. Surviving manuscripts from the 14th century provide guidelines for Durga puja, while historical records suggest royalty and wealthy families were sponsoring major Durga Puja public festivities since at least the 16th century. The prominence of Durga Puja increased during the British Raj in its provinces of Bengal and Assam. In the contemporary era, the importance of Durga Puja is as much as a social festival as a religious one wherever it is observed.

Durga puja is the biggest festival of the Bengali Hindus and is celebrated with great fanfare in Bangladesh.

On each day of this festival, devotees offer flower worship (pushpanjali) and the priest conducts an aroti. At the end of these five days, the idols are immersed in water. As the devotees bid farewell to the Mother Goddess they softly say ‘Aaschebochoraabarhobe’ (We will celebrate your arrival again next year). Like Swami Sivananda, Hindus believe, “Durga (Devi) is synonymous with Shakti or the Divine Power that manifests, sustains and transforms the universe as the one unifying Force of Existence. 'Shakti is the very possibility of the Absolute's appearing as many, of God's causing this universe.

God creates this world through Srishti-Shakti (creative power), preserves through Sthiti-Shakti (preservative power), and destroys through Samhara-Shakti (destructive power). Shakti and Shakta are one; the power and the one who possesses the power cannot be separated; God and Shakti are like fire and heat of fire.”

Even when skies turn to grey, we wish that the Goddess will bless Hindus way; to give them strength to overcome it all; and achieve all their desires and goals. Let the divine blessings of the Goddess overflow in their life. Durga Puja is an auspicious Hindu festival celebrated across Bangladesh, India and bordering countries. People celebrate this day with great enthusiasm and zeal.

This wonderful spiritual festival is held annually in Bangladesh and elsewhere among the Hindu community in the world. The tenth day, also known as Dashami marks the Visarjan (immersion in water) of the idol with grand celebrations and processions.

Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad and Mahanagar Sarbajanin Puja Committee have said, “We are respectful to all religions. We are giving the directives to maintain the sanctity of other religions.”

A week prior to the festival, the city gears up and can be seen wearing a look of eagerness and excitement as it prepares itself to welcome the Goddess home. A week before Navratri begins; the idols of Goddess Durga are being painted and made ready except for the eyes. On the occasion of Mahalaya, the Goddess is invited on earth with rituals and so on this day, the eyes are drawn on the idols in an auspicious ritual called Chokku Daan. It is believed the Goddess descends to earth at the time of drawing the eyes on the idols.

On the sixth day of Navaratri i.e., the first day of Durga Puja, the beautifully decorated idols are brought home or into magnificently decorated public pandals. The idol is then decorated with flowers, clothes, jewellery, red vermillion and various sweets are kept in front on the Goddess. The idol of the Goddess is accompanied by the idol of Lord Ganesh. Goddess Durga is considered to be Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati’s avatar and thus mother of Lord Ganesh.

The festival of Durga Puja is coloured with devotional zeal, mythological legends, detailed rituals, extravagant pandals and magnificent tableaus of the divine Mother Goddess and her children. The ten-day festivities of Durga Puja provide one and all with a chance to spread festive cheer and wish their loved one’s peace as well as prosperity. The nine different forms of the Goddess of Power, Durga or Shakti, as per the Hindu religion, are worshipped during this time.

The last six days of the festival, namely, Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, MahaNabami and Bijoya Dashami are celebrated with great pomp and show. The Durga Puja revelry is not limited to elaborate rituals, but extends to various cultural, music and dance performances given by armature as well as professional artists during this time.

On the final day of Vijayadashmi, the devotees bid teary-eyed farewell to the Goddess and her children as it is believed that they leave for their heavenly abode. Their idols are submerged in the water amidst the resonating sound of drums to symbolise their departure.

May this Durga Puja light up for Hindus in Bangladesh and elsewhere throughout the world! We wish that Goddess Durga empowers them with unmatched happiness, great success and good luck. To conclude, we wish to enunciate a few words of a famed poem:

“Nil akasher megher bhela,

Padma phuler papri mela,

Dhaker taale kasher khela,

Anande katuk sharad bela.

Shubho Durga Puja.”

A very Happy Durga Puja to all our brothers and sisters of Hindu community in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and across the world!

 

The writer is an independent political analyst who writes on

politics, political and human-centred figures, current and

international affairs