What it is
The Durga Puja is the greatest festival of the Hindus of West Bengal. The goddess Durga is worshipped in this festival. The puja generally takes place in the month of Aswin.
The goddess has ten arms. She holds different weapons in her hands. She has two daughters, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Lakshmi is the goddess of Fortune and Saraswati is the goddess of Learning. They stand on the right and left sides respectively of the goddess Durga. She has two sons also. One is Ganesh and the other is Kartik. They sit by the side of Lakshmi and Saraswati respectively. All these gods and goddesses are worshipped along with Durga. Her right foot is on a lion and her left foot is on the demon. The demon has come out of a buffalo. His right arm is caught by the lion. Goddess Durga has pierced the demon with her spear.
Description of the puja
She is worshipped for three days. Many goats, and even buffaloes, are sacrificed to the goddess. On the fourth day, the images are immersed in the water or a pond or a river. Many procession are held at that time. The worship takes place twice a year—once in Spring and again in Autumn. King Suratha performed the worship of the goddess in Spring to get back his lost kingdom. The Autumn festival is more common. Ramachandra, the eldest son of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya, performed this in autumn to defeat Havana, the King of Lanka and rescued his wife Seeta. She had been stolen by Havana. Thus it is a worship of Shakti, the goddess of power. This worship is performed with great pomp by rich men. They feed many people on this occasion. At present community worship (baroaripuja) is held at all places in West Bengal and even in other States by the Bengalee Hindus.
A happy time for all
On the occasion of this great puja schools, colleges and courts remain closed for a month in West Bengal. Some offices remain closed for a shorter period. The mind of the Bengalees is filled with joy on this occasion. The joy of the children knows no bounds. They put on new clothes and shoes. Those who live abroad come home at this time. They meet their friends and relations at home. It is a very happy time for all. Children pass the time merrily. On this occasion merchants sell their goods at a good profit. Thus the Durga Puja is a very happy festival for the Hindus of West Bengal. It has great social and economic importance.