Kolkata, Oct 7 | Underlining the festival spirit of sharing and bonding, people cutting across all social and economic barriers partook sumptuous community feasts at marquees and visited friends and relatives on Monday celebrating Mahanavami, the fourth and penultimate day of Durga Puja in West Bengal.
Men, in the festive attire of kurta and pyjama, and women, resplendent in bright coloured saris greeted friends, relatives and other acquaintances, clicked selfies and idled away their time with banter and fun, soaking in the infectious carnival atmosphere.
At the marquees and the households worshipping the Goddess, people ate ‘bhog’ (community feast of food items offered to the Goddess first), comprising a varied spread from ‘luchis’ (deep fried puffed bread) to ‘khichuri’, vegetable items, to fish and even mutton.
The religious rituals of Mahanavami or ninth lunar day began around 2.22 p.m. on Sunday after the end of Sandhi Puja held at the confluence of Mahaashtami (eighth lunar day) and Mahanavami.
As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga killed Chando and Mundo — two ‘asuras’ (demons) at the confluence (Sandhi) of the two days. The Goddess was worshipped as the undefeated and is offered her favourite food items.
This was followed by Maha Arati. In many of the traditional households celebrating the festival, ‘yagna’ (rituals done before the sacred fire) was organised.
As evening descended, revellers of all ages hit the streets again, visiting the prominent marquees (pandals).
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A forty-foot high model of Chandrayaan 2 evokes awe, with the organisers of the Sekhpura Durga Puja committee in Midnapore town of West Midnapore district paying tribute to the country’s space programme and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). A big crowd puller, the marquee is themed on the country’s latest space programme and even runs an ISRO video about the mission.
According to Bengali tradition, Durga Puja begins with the symbolic arrival of Goddess Durga on Earth along with her sons Kartik and Ganesha and daughters Saraswati and Laxmi on Sashthi and ends on Dashami, celebrated across the country as Dussehra.
Traditionally, idols of Goddess Durga depict her as slaying demon Mahishasur. She is shown astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her 10 arms.