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The worship of goddess Durga in the autumn is the year's largest festival in West Bengal, Orissa, Tripura, Assam and other parts of East India as well as in Bangladesh. Durga Puja is also celebrated in Nepal and Bhutan according to local traditions and variations. Puja means "worship," and Durga's Puja is celebrated from the sixth to tenth day of the waxing moon in the month of Ashshin, which is the sixth month in the Bengali calendar. Occasionally however, due to shifts in the lunar cycle relative to the solar months, it may also be held in the following month, Kartik. In the Gregorian calendar, these dates correspond to the months of September/October.

In the Ramayana (One of the great Indian Epics), Rama (The son of King Dasharath) invokes the goddess Durga in his battle against the demon Ravana. Although she was traditionally worshipped in the spring, due to contingencies of battle, Rama had to invoke her in the autumn (akaal bodhan). Today it is this Rama's date for the puja that has gained ascendancy, although the spring puja, known as Basanti Puja, is also present in the Hindu almanac. Since the season of the puja is Sh˘rot (autumn), it is also known as Sharodia.

The pujas are held over a five-day period, which is traditionally viewed as the coming of the married daughter, Durga, to her father, Himalaya's home. It is the most important festival in Bengal, and Bengalis celebrate with new clothes and other gifts, which are worn on the evenings when the family goes out to see the pandals (temporary structures set up to venerate the goddess). Durga Puja in Bengal is a carnival, where people from all backgrounds, regardless of their religious beliefs, participate and enjoy themselves to the hilt. Worship of goddess Durga has now been done all over the world, where there is a Bengali community.

Info: Wikipedia

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Additional Photos by Sayan Chakrabarti (sayan) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 562 W: 76 N: 688] (2617)
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