Why is the Durga Pooja
like an exciting, cultural immersion and not confined to quiet prayers? Well, mostly because Ma Durga
has so many incarnations and is an embodiment of so many things: she is the goddess of power or Shakti
, and the cause of all past, present and future occurrences.
is the mother of Lakshmi
, the goddess of wealth and prosperity; the mother of Saraswati,
the goddess of wisdom, knowledge, learning, music and arts; the mother of Karthikeya
, the god of war; and she is the mother of Ganesha
, the remover of obstacles for all auspicious events.
"The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection
." - Michelangelo
Temporary places called Pandals
are set up to welcome and venerate the goddess and to make arrangements for devotees. The entrance to the Pandal or the gateway, the panels at the sides, the ceilings, and the floors are all composed and decorated to honour the divine. All of them serve as opportunities to artists to pay homage to Ma Durga
|Atop the entrance to a Pandal|
In a Pooja
, we make offerings of all that is good and nourishing and beautiful in our lives: fruits and vegetables, grains, flowers, art and music and dance. The goddess is also showered with gifts of sarees and sweets.
|Ceiling of a Pandal|
In the Pandal
, the idol or Protima
of Ma Durga
is accompanied by her children, their Vahans
or vehicles and the Kala-Bou
, a banana plant depicting the mother nature part of Durga
The Owl, Vahana
, symbolizes observation and perception. The divine Swan, Vahana
symbolizes purity and realization of knowledge. The Peacock, Vahana
, symbolizes beauty. The Mouse, Vahana
symbolizes the Vighna
or obstacles our mind create very much like the fickle and darting movements of a mouse, that have to be controlled by the mind.
|A panel at the Pooja Pandal|
herself being powerful, beautiful and radiant has the Lion as her Vahana
. During Durga Puja
, she is shown in her Avatar
or slayer of the half-buffalo, half-Asura
The devotees of Ma Durga come from all communities, but do take care to deck themselves in their best clothes and jewellery. Devotees go to the Pandal every morning for Pushpanjali, or offerings of flowers and leaves for the goddess. They go for the evening Arati, or lighting of lamps.
The last day of Pooja is the Sindur Khela, when the goddess is bid farewell, till the next year with vermillion and sweets.
Over the years, Pooja Pandals have got more organized. Each locality has tried to differentiate itself. Some of them have themes for the Pooja, or take up causes. One New Delhi Pooja for example, wanted to draw attention to the dying jute industry. They got specially commissioned a Ma Durga idol made of jute, in addition to the normal clay one.
While the clay idol was immersed in water in the usual ritual fashion called Bisarjan, the jute idol is being preserved. The organizers of this Pandal want the jute idol to have a place in a museum or an educational institution.
|Pooja Pandal resembling the PAlais Garnier|
Another New Delhi Pooja Pandal paid homage to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris. The entire Pandal was designed and put together over two months to resemble the Palais Garnier, or the National Opera House.
A Kolkatta Pandal paid homage to the once ubiquitous black and yellow Hindustan Motors Ambassador taxis. The Pandal artists bought 15 taxis, 200 silencer pipes and 300 car doors for the purpose.
The taxis were deconstructed and put together in art installations all around the Pandal