Every year around this time when trees start to change their shades, the weather starts to get a little colder, and the breeze becomes ever so subtle; we know autumn is upon us. But what is fascinating about this is that it also brings some of the most interesting and enthralling festivities in the world with it. To be more specific, this is the time when followers of the Hindu religion come together to celebrate the arrival of Durga, one of the fiercest deities amongst the Hindu pantheon by a ceremony called ‘Durga Puja’.

Her arrival sets off the most extravagant display of celebration. The tone of the environment takes a huge turn. Although this is specific to the south-east Asian parts of the word, the celebration breaks the country barrier. The whole country synchronizes with the ritual and the rhythm of which isn’t just confined to the temple; it spreads everywhere. Every home adorns a new look and the temples begin decorating devi’s temporary adobe with conviction.

To give you a lead on this exuberant festival, we gather all the whereabouts for you. We also give you a peek into how this festival of happiness is celebrated.

Durga Puja

Artist creating idols
Artist is giving the finishing touch

By definition, ‘Durga’ means ‘confined space’ or ‘cramped’. But the ideology goes far beyond its literal meaning. Devotees believe Devi Durga is the one who protects them from grief, agony, fear, sorrow, and affliction. The ideology again was extended further in the scripture where it says, ‘Durga is she who can only be won through grief and sorrow.’

No matter how you may translate this ideology, Durga will test your tenacity, persistence, and perseverance with grief and agony. Once you are through, if you can proclaim yourself victorious, this is what the ideology signifies.

It all begins with Mahalaya but the ritual starts its run after the end of its sixth day and people show their devotion from dawn till midnight. The festival continues for the next five days and ends with the immersion of the idols of the goddess Durga in the river. It is believed that the deity doesn’t come alone, she makes her presence along with her two sons Ganesha and Kartik, and two daughters Lakshmi and Saraswati.

Religious people spend this time of the year with joy and conviction. But the beauty is, this is not ethnically limited to a specific group of people, people of all ages and cultures come together and celebrate the Durga puja.

Places to look for

Drawing the features
The depiction of Durga is made with intricacy and conviction

Just like every year, Dhakeshwari temple will be the epicenter of all the buzz. But that doesn’t mean it will be the most extravagant. For that, you have to shift your gaze to Banani. There you will find the most beautiful shrine in Dhaka city. It’s not uncommon to have visitors from across the world anymore, as they come to enjoy the vibe and the festivities. And it has been happening for quite a few years now.

Every year the festival is getting bigger and bigger. This year is no exception with more than 200 shrines built to celebrate the occasion. There were times when the whole festivities were confined to just Old Dhaka, namely Kotoali, but this is not the norm anymore. For the last few years, Durga Puja has been celebrated across Dhaka city.

Apart from that, Shakhari bazar, Tati bazar, Ramkrishna Ashram, Mirpur Central Temple, Dhanmondi, Kalabagan, Gulshan, Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University and many other organizations will also perform all the necessary arrangements for the ritual.

How to Celebrate

মন্ডপের ছবি
A fully-fledged shrine with idols

Again, it all starts with Mahalaya. Mahalaya marks the awakening of the Saraswati journey to her maternal land. But the main celebration starts on the sixth day. The day begins with the ritual of welcoming the goddess.

Daylong cultural activities take place at every temple and it lasts till midnight. But that’s not the most interesting aspect of it though. That goes to the decoration, artistic effort, and craftsmanship behind the celebration. It intrigues interest among people of all cultures. All gather around to see the creative approach to decorating shrines and also the attire of the goddess. Sometimes people spend a fortune to get the attire just right.

The light-works during the evening are mesmerizing, to say the least. This is the only time you will see something so extravagant. Besides this, there is the traditional prasad, which is another point of attraction.

All in all, this is one festival that you don’t want to miss, trust me. Regardless of your belief, there are plenty that you can enjoy.

Lastly, don’t forget to let us know how you celebrated the festival and what your most enthralling experience was during the festival. Till next time, stay enthralled.

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