The rainy season is officially over and wisps of white cloud in the autumn sky tell us that Durga Puja is not far. This year it’s been a long wait after Mahalaya for Durga Puja. This is due to an unusual Ashwin month in the Hindu calendar, which has two new moons or Amavasyas. As this phenomena is considered inauspicious, Ma Durga and her four children – Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesha are arriving late, after the inauspicious period. Durga Puja is starting on October 22 and ending on October 26, with Vijaya Dashami.
Durga Puja 2020: Know about Bodhon, Kola Bou Snan, Kumari Puja, Shandhi Puja and Dhunuchi Naach
Bodhon: On all five days of Durga Puja, there are unique rituals and ceremonies but most of us hardly know about them. The actual Durga Puja starts on Shashti with a welcoming ceremony called Bodhon. On Bodhon, the face of the goddess is uncovered amid the sound of dhak (drums) and shankha dhwani or the sound of the conch. On Shashti, most people wear new clothes.
Kola Bou Snan: The next day is Maha Saptami, which starts with a ritual called the Nabapatrika or the Kola Bou Snan. A small banana plant, symbolising the wife of Ganesha, is wrapped in a red bordered saree and bathed in the river or any water body close by. The banana plant has eight leaves from eight auspicious trees tied to it. The banana and eight other leaves signify the nine avatars of Goddess Durga. Nabapatrika is significant for farmers also. In West Bengal, farmers offer special prayers for a good harvest.
Kumari Puja: On Maha Ashtami, the main rituals are Kumari Puja, Anjali and Shandhi Puja. Kumari Puja involves worshipping a small girl as the young form of the goddess. Anjali or floral offerings by devotees normally take place around mid-day. At many large community Durga Pujas, Anjali happens in batches as hundreds of people gather at the pandals for it.
Shandhi Puja: Before Ashtami is over, Shandhi Puja is done. This is a grand ritual that requires the lighting of a hundred and eight diyas, hom or yagya and Chandi Path or mantras dedicated to Goddess Durga. The next day is Maha Navami, which is also the last day of the Navratri.
Dhunuchi Naach: This is a very special part of the celebrations. Dhunuchi Naach is performed usually on Ashtami and Navami evenings after aarti. People dress up and dance to the beats of the dhak with dhunuchi or clay pots filled with coconut husks, powdered incense and camphor. When the coconut husks are lit along with the incense and camphor it creates a very unique atmosphere. The grandeur and the euphoria of this event attracts revellers to the puja pandals.
Sindur Khela and Visarjan: Durga Puja ends on Vijaya Dashami. The main rituals before Visarjan or immersion of the idols are boron or bidding Ma Durga farewell till next year and Sindur Khela. Married women put vermillion on each other and exchange sweets and greetings for a happy year ahead.