Firstly, I do not intend to boggle you with these ever-mystifying rituals I learned lately about Durga Puja. Proceed further only if you are interested and non-Judgemental (or say indifferent ). Hm, I totally understand the fact that Religion is not everyone’s cup of tea, guys. I am more into the concept of spiritualism and I respect all religions and believe GOD IS ONE. we have been doing Kalash sthapana( sowing pulses, cereals and other seeds on the first day of this festival in a pot which is watered for nine days at the end of which the seeds sprout. This pot is worshipped throughout the nine days. source: Wikipedia) during Durga Puja since 11 years. I grew up between slightly strict customs, traditions and Rituals practiced by almost all the Hindu families, however I consider my family a little liberal in all these matters. I understand and acknowledge the fact that for some, these rites and rituals are of utmost importance and I am nobody to question them or let my modern education interfere with what has been passed upon us by our ancestors. I prefer to be selective and try to go with the flow.
Recently, an article in the newspaper enlightened me about few mystifying and mind-boggling rituals performed during Durga Puja. Before I start to tell you about these rituals during festival of nine days, Let me clear the fact that due to the diversity, the rituals, vary from region to region in India. For e.g. Even the name of this festival varies from state to state, In northern India and Gujarat, it is known as Navratri or Vijayadashmi or Dusshera, Durga Puja in Eastern India etc. Read more here on wiki and here. Below are the few of many mystifying rituals of Durga Puja :
Chakshu Daan (Eye Donation)
As during Durga Puja, huge Idols of Durga is made by artisans in the eastern India especially west Bengal, eyes of the Idol are not drawn until Mahalaya ( In Bengal, Mahalaya (Bengali: মহালয়া) marks the beginning of Durga Puja festivities. Mahalaya is the day when the goddess Durga is believed to have descended to Earth. Bengali people traditionally wake up early in the morning on Mahalaya to recite hymns) source : wiki. Many people come forward for a noble cause on this day and volunteer for eye donation after death.
Animal Sacrifice (Presently, sacrificing vegetables are common)
Unfortunately, I do not have much to say about this. I am although glad to read that it has been replaced with sacrificing vegetables, on the internet. We don’t have this sacrificing ritual, so I was astonished to read about it. All that is done by the devotee is fasting, worshipping, hymns recital by Priest and on last day, concluding the festival with hawan and Kanya Pujan.
Nine days and Nine forms
Each Day nine different forms of Goddess is worshipped and each has its own significance. Starting from day 1 to 9, forms of Goddess has been named shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandra Ghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, KaalRatri, Maha Gauri, Siddhidatri respectively. Read more on nine forms and significance here- Hinduism.about.com
Burning of Ravan (evil) effigies during Dusshera
If you are aware of Ramayana, you must be knowing who Ravana is. If not, do not worry. I will explain it briefly. Ravana is an antagonist of the Ramayana and Ram the Protagonist. Rama was noble and good king, however Ravana was an evil king. when Rama was subjected to live and spend 12 years in forest by his father, Ravana disguised in form of a sadhu and abducted Sita (Rama’s wife). Rama sets out to rescue her with his own army of allies and this lead to a fierce battle between both Rama and Ravana. Good wins, Rama wins and brings back Sita. Now during Dusshera, each year, Effigies of Ravana is henceforth burned in evening to signify the victory of good over Evil. Of course it has a huge contribution in pollution but then it has its own charm and I am yet to experience it with my own eyes but I do have a picture for you.
Ramlila is a play that begins on the first day of Dusshera and is based on life of Rama, usually ends with defeat of Ravana and is followed by Burning Ravan effigies. It is kind of popular in rural areas still and has been recognised globally. Read more here on wikipedia about it.
Hmm, yes, that is all for now. If I ever find mystifying rituals worth sharing, I will certainly update this post. Thank you for reading.
Have you ever been to Ramlila play before or experienced Burning of Ravana?