When is Durga Puja?
In India, Durga Puja is a public holiday in several states. The names and dates may differ and some states observe holidays related to the festivals of Dusserhra and Navrati which are celebrated on similar dates.
Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsava or Mahashtami, is a Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates the worship of the goddess Durga.
Durga Puja celebrates the ten-armed mother goddess, and her victory over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura.
While celebrated across India, In West Bengal, Assam and Tripura, it is the biggest festival of the year and the most significant cultural event in Bengali Hindu society.
The world was under threat from the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura, that no man or god could defeat. To vanquish the demon, Durga emerged from the collective energies of all the gods. Each of her ten arms brandished the deadliest weapon of each god. Durga was the mother to four gods, Kartikeya, Ganesha, Saraswati and Lakshmi.
To Hindus, Durga represents the embodiment of shakti, the powerful feminine force that governs all cosmic creation, existence and change.
Before his battle with Ravana, Lord Rama invoked the goddess and her victory over the buffalo-demon, which ties the festivals of Durga Puja and Dusserhra closely together.
The rituals of Durga Puja last ten days with the start and the last five days being special festivals that are refelected in public holidays in some states in India.
Mahalaya marks the start of the Durga Puja festival. On this day, the goddess Durga is believed to have descended to Earth. In 2016 Mahalaya is celebrated on September 30th in Karnataka, Odisha, Tripura, West Bengal. On this day, large, elaborately crafted statutes of Durga are set up in homes and decorated podiums, called Pandals.
On the seventh day (saptami) of Durga Puja, the goddess started her epic battle against Mahishasura. In 2016 Saptami of Durga Puja is celebrated on in .
Known as Durgashtami, Mahashtami or Durga Ashtami, this is the eighth day of Durga Puja celebrations. Durgastami is one of the important days of Durga Puja and many people may fast on this day. The weapons of the gods used by Durga are worshipped today.
Aalso known as Dashain or Tenth day of Navratri or Durgotsav, Vijaya Dashami commemorates the day that Durga appeared riding a lion to slay the Mahisasura. Statutes of Durga are paraded through the streets, then immersed in water. In 2016 Vijaya Dashami is celebrated on October 23rd in Assam, Kerala, Odisha, Sikkim. In Odisha, Sikkim, this day is celebrated as Durga Puja on October 12th.