In Orissa, the Durga Puja is celebrated with great pomp and show. The entire state strikes a different chord altogether echoing the music of bonhomie, brotherhood and festivity. The grandeur of the Puja turns Cuttack into a new city during the last four days of the festival beginning from Maha-Shashti till the day when the idols are immersed in the rivers, lakes, and seas on the evening of Dashami. This ritual is performed based on the belief that the Mother Goddess descends to the Earth on Shashti, the sixth day of the Pooja and returns to her abode on Dashami, the tenth day of the Puja. The festival is also known by the names of ‘Navratra’ and ‘Durgostab’ in various parts of the country.
Durga Puja is a special time for women who look forward to this auspicious occasion to buy clothes for themselves and their family. They express their joy by partaking in the Sindoor Utsav where the married ladies smear the parting of the goddess’s hair with vermilion and again smear each other’s hair parting with vermilions. Girls adorn the floor with alpana designs that are made with rice flour paste. They see this autumn festival as the annual home coming of Durga, the married daughter returning home to her parents from her husband’s house for a period of four days.
Durga Puja festival is not merely religious in nature. With time, it has acquired the status of the biggest social event of the region as Odias use this time to socialize and make big plans for the four days of Durga Puja. Dances and performances are organized, while feasts and music take over the festive spirit of the city. It is also the time for the teens and youths to catch up on the latest fashion trends, designer clothes, trendy footwear, and catchy accessories. Businessmen certainly cash in on the festival offering sales, discounts, free gifts to customers, thereby further jazzing up the spirits of the people.
The clay idol of the goddess is decorated with immaculate decorative pieces, tiny lights and beautiful flowers. The goddess sitting on a lion is shown killing the ‘Buffalo Demon’- Mahishasura accompanied by her two sons, Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya, and two daughters Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati presents a really powerful picture standing true to its synonym ‘Goddess of Power.’ The arti ceremony that takes place early every morning and evening is a grand affair where the praises of the goddess are sung describing her gumption and valor. The sweet fragrance of incense adds to the charm.
Durga Puja Calendar 2012
20th October – Duraga Shashti
21st October – Durga Saptami
22nd October – Durga Ashtami
23rd October – Durga Nabami
24th October – Bijaya Dashami
Sheer joy, mad ecstasy and wondrous celebrations remain the mood of the day as during this period the spirit transports one’s soul into utter delight. It is because Durga Puja is much more than a religious festival.