Why Bengali Loves Durga Puja and Mythology of Indian Goddess

Durga Puja, the most happening festival of the Bengalis can be sensed with its spurt of fanfare on all the four days of the Durga Puja festival. This autumnal festival popularly known as Sharodotsav, recalls the power of female Shakti symbolized by the Goddess Durga who slays asura to reestablish peace and sanctity on earth again. Bengalis all over the world during these days of Durga Puja rejoice to their heart's content reconnecting with friends and relatives. Durga Puja is an occasion when the familiar sound of Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh,the mild fragrance of Shiuli, gives a familiar tug to every Bengali heart.

Why Bengali Loves Durga Puja and Mythology of Indian Goddess 

Durga Puja, the festival of Bengalis is the worship of 'Shakti' or the divine power. Most of the religious celebrations in the world have legends surrounding them.The fables are generally the fight between the evil and the good, the dark forces eventually succumbing to the divine.Worship of Goddess Durga is based on myths where Durga symbolizes the divine power.


Mahishasura, the king of Asuras, through years of austerities, was once granted a boon by Lord Bramha, that no man or deity would be able to kill him. The immense power filled in him the urge to rule over the world. He started to terrorize heaven and the inhabitants. He pervaded the world with his battalion of Asuras and plundered and ruthlessly killed the people. Chaos and anarchy reigned. Gods were driven from heaven and Mahishasura usurped the throne.The Gods scared and unable to combat him, requested Lord Shiva, Lord Bramha and Lord Vishnu to stop Mahishasura's tyranny. In answer, the three Gods combined their divine energy and summoned up a feminine form so brilliantly glaring that it illuminated the heavens. This combined power fell on the residence of Sage Kattyana in the krishna chaturdashi (fourteenth day of new moon) in the month of Ashwin (September-October). From the glow emerged Devi Durga, a beautiful yellow woman 

with ten arms riding a lion. Despite her grace she bore a menacing expression, for Durga was born to kill. Fully grown and armed by the gods, beautiful Durga was named "Kattyani" as she is born in the ashram of sage Kattyana. The sage worshipped her for suklasaptami, asthami and nabami tithi then on the tithi of Dashami she killed Masishasura. She was sent forth against Mahishasura armed by symbols of divine power; Vishnu's discus; Shiva's trident; Varuna's conchshell; Agni's flaming dart; Vayu's bow; Surya's quiver and arrow; Yama's iron rod; Indra's thunderbolt; Kubera's club and a garland of snakes from Shesha and a lion as a charger from Himalayas.

A fierce battle took place. Finally when Mahishasura in the guise of a buffalo charged against Durga, the Devi beheaded the buffalo and from it emerged Mahishasura in his original form. Durga pierced his chest with the trident and relieved the world from the evil power. That is why she is 'Durgatinashini Durga', our mother goddess who destroys the evil, protects her devotees and establishes peace and prosperity on earth.We worship Durga as the mother goddess, the epitome of 'Shakti' (divine power), to deliver us from the evil and bring peace and prosperity in our lives.

But the most interesting part of Durga Puja is that, instead of placing Durga on a high alter and worshipping her from a distance the Bengalis embrace her in their hearts and make her an inseparable member of the family. Goddess Durga is welcomed to the earth as our daughter who annually visits her parents' home. Durga stays for four days-Sashti, Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami along with her children, Ganesha, Laxmi, Kartik and Saraswati and sets for her husband's abode on Vijaya Dashami. Durga's mode of journey to the earth is detailed in scriptures. The modes, an elephant, a horse, palanquin, boat all signify luck or omen which influence the life on earth. The elephant signifies prosperity and good harvest while journey on a horse back indicates drought, a palanquin spells wide spread epidemic and the boat suggests flood and misery. The worship of Devi Durga in the month of October however owes its origin to Krittibas Ojha's "Ramayana". Sree Rama hastily worships Durga,the goddess of 'Shakti', just before he sets for Lanka to rescue Sita from Ravana. According to Puranas, King Suratha, used to worship the goddess Durga in spring. Thus Durga Puja was also known as Basanti Puja. But Rama prepones the Puja and worships the Devi in autumn and that is why it is known as 'Akal Bodhon' or untimely worship. Over the years, this Akal Bodhon has become the tradition among Bengalis and in Bengal.

Durga puja, the festival of Bengal is one of the most important festivals of Bangalis. The city of Calcutta enlivens during the four days of Durga Puja, starting from the day of Bodhon on Maha-Shashti and ending up with the immersion of clay idols in the river Ganges on the evening of Dashami. Sharat brings a wisp of freshness in the air to welcome the advent of the mother Goddess.

The wide blue sky, the mild fragrance of shiuli, glimpses of swaying Kash in the fields, and the chanting of Shakti mantras fill up the atmosphere.


Bengal specializes in preserving the age old tradition of making clay idols. Such unmatched skills come in the limelight during the festive occasion of Durga Puja. Months before the Puja clay artisans start to breathe in life in the images of Durga. Bamboo sticks cut in various shapes and sizes are required to make the basic structure of the idols of Goddess Durga and the platform on which the colossal statue stands. Durga's figure is then imparted shape with straw tied with jute strings. Creating fascinating figurines of Hindu Gods and Goddesses has been an age old tradition for the Pals (the clay artisans).

Making of Durga idols is a lengthy and a back breaking process. This is done diligently and methodically by the artisans to create the most exquisite pieces of artistry. Such is the perfection of idol making, that the skeleton structure of bamboo and straw are done by one group of artisans while the clay mixing and applications are done by another group and finally the head, palms and feet are done by the highest graded artisans or Pals.The second stage of idol making is applying the layers of clay. This is done in three steps.

The straw figurine of Goddess is applied with the first coat of clay solution where the percentage of water is high. This application helps to fill the crevices left by the straw This application helps to fill the crevices left by the straw structure. The second layer is applied with great caution as it is the most important layer giving prominence to the figure. The clay mixed in this step is very fine without any impurities. Palms, head and feet which are separately made are attached with the main torso at this stage. The heads, palms and feet are made of clay.

Lot of skill goes in making the head of the idols of Goddess Durga. It is generally done by the highest graded Pals. The artisans make the head of the Goddess with fine clay creating each feature with great care and skill. This piece of art when completed is dried. Liquid plaster of Paris is poured over it to create a mould.

On drying, the mould is then separated from the clay head. This mould being hollow is then used to create innumerable clay heads for the idols of Goddess Durga.

Finally pieces of cloth soaked in fineclay from the river bed of Ganges is applied on the joints of the figure which develops cracks after drying. This thin coat of clay is applied to strengthen the joints.On completing the clay structure the figure is painted with white earth colour. Finally the whole statue is painted with pink or yellow earth colours. The last earth colour applied is the blood colour. The eyes are then painted and other detailing are done by the main artist. The idols of Durga are then varnished. Hair made of jute is glued and then the idol is dressed and then ornamented.


Pandal making has taken a form of art. It is the abode of Goddess Durga for the four days of Durga Puja. Since the days of landed aristocracy, there used to be "Barwari Puja" or community Puja financed by the local zamindars.The mandaps were generally a extended hall of their residence.

But today puja pandals are seen in numbers at every street corner. These pandals are built according to well made plans. Bamboo poles, planks of wood and meters of cloth are needed to construct such amazing mammoth structures Skill and creative ideas are used to make the most exquisite and intricate designs which leave the viewers awe-struck. Built in such an elaborate and grand manner they appear stunning often depicting famous architectural splendors. These pandals are later decorated with galaxies of twinkling lights. The lighting worksattract huge crowds which depicts stories and legends of Durga Puja. 


Bengalis get busy preparing for its the time for welcoming friends and relatives, time to give away gifts and to prepare good food. The homemakers give a new look to their homes, purchase clothes to replenish their wardrobes and chalk out plans for the four days to come. Durga Puja is not only a religious festival but it has derived a new socialize in a great way.The festive occasion    calls for the latest trends in fashion wear,designer clothes and the trendiest footwear. Marking Bengalis most popular festival there is a boom in the sales, discounts and free gifts offered by sellers in a manner which tends to out smart each other. Bengalis go for a unthinkable spree for shopping, buying the best and offering the best to friends and relatives. The atmosphere remains surcharged with fun and gaiety.

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