Don't we all wish that our children grow up independent and strong-willed, ready to take on the world? This Durga Puja, let’s regale our children with inspiring stories about Devi Durga and how she single-handedly defeated dreaded demons, and yet as a mother, she takes care of her children
Growing up, the flowering of the fragrant night jasmine (shiuli) flowers and a nip in the air signalled the arrival of Durga Puja for us.
Yes, it is that time of the year again, when we are gearing up to celebrate the Durga Puja. It brings back memories of getting new dresses to be worn each day of the Puja, while reserving the best one for Ashtami (the eighth day of the Puja). On the three main Puja days – Saptami, Ashtami and Navami – we used to get up early and collect shiuli flowers to offer to Maa, as we call Devi Durga, later in the day.
With empty stomachs, we used to go to the pandals along with neighborhood kids and parents to offer ‘pushpanjali’ to Maa at the scheduled hour. Bathed and dressed in new clothes, we used to gather in front of the goddess, (sometimes, fighting to get the best spots) with a fistful of flowers and bilva leaves.
As kids, we used to visit the pandals thrice –in the morning to offer flowers, at lunch time for the community feast of khichiri and labra (mixed veg) and the last in the evening. As the day ended, we were ready to go pandal-hopping in our best attire. We would wait for the whole year to buy toys during Puja. The battery-operated trains, cheap electronic watches and dolls we collected from the numerous melas in front of each pandal were our prized possessions for the rest of the yearThings have changed, more so after the pandemic when there are standard operating procedures to be followed while entering a Puja mandap.
How I wish our next generation too could feel the rush of adrenaline as Puja approaches! Still, I am hoping that my daughter experiences the traditions, the bonhomie and the general feeling of happiness that are prevalent during Durga Puja. Knowing about our rich cultural traditions would also help them get a deeper and practical insight into our culture. Don’t you think children could learn much more from a round of pandal-hopping with parents than reading about the culture of India from a textbook?
Held during the Hindu month of Ashvina (September-October), traditionally Durga Puja was observed for 10 days. Now, worshipping goddess Durga is mostly confined to five days. What is so special about Durga Puja, that it always brings in a lot of joy and enthusiasm to the people who celebrate it?
One of the fiercest yet adorable of Hindu deities, Goddess Durga is worshiped as Durga Maa in eastern states, while rest of India worships her in various forms during Navratri.
Durga Puja is celebrated widely in Bengal, Odisha, Assam and other eastern states. Not to forget that it is also observed wholeheartedly by communities living in different parts of the country and abroad.
For many like us, Durga Puja starts on Mahalaya, the day that marks the ending of Pitri Paksha and the starting of Devi Paksha, i.e., when Durga Maa comes to Earth from her heavenly abode for the annual 10-day sojourn.
Here are some of the significant days and rituals during Durga Puja which you can share with your child. Stories of Durga Maa’s victories are ideal for those bedtime chats as you tuck in your child.
With its unique traditions and rituals for all the members of the family and for flora and fauna, Durga Puja is not just a religious festival for the people who celebrate it in its true spirit. It is a celebration of life in its full glory.
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