Durga Puja is celebrated in honour of Goddess Durga. This much-awaited festival is celebrated in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin that typically falls in the month of September or October in the Gregorian calendar. This year, Durga Puja will begin on Thursday, 22nd October and end on Monday, 26th October.
Maa Durga represents destruction of evil and protection of good. It is believed that in order to become divine, one should keep one's animal instincts under control. And so, by worshiping Durga, the idea of ruthless destruction is invoked to annihilate all desires and, instead, invoke divinity.
The festival is popular in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Tripura, and also in neighbouring countries like Nepal, where it is called Dashain. It is particularly celebrated in Kolkata, in the state of West Bengal, to celebrate the unfathomable power of Goddess Durga. What many people do not know is that this day also marks the beginning of all types of learning. Starting anything new on Durga Puja is considered to be very auspicious as it brings you success.
During Durga Puja, the Divine Mother is represented and worshiped in her three different forms as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. This festival is celebrated during the period of Navaratri, from the 6th day till the 9th day.
On the first 3 nights of the Navratri festival, Goddess Durga is worshipped. On the following three nights, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. On the last three nights Goddess Saraswati is worshipped. On the 10th day of Navaratri, the idols of Goddess Durga are immersed into water. The 10th day is called Vijayadasami, ‘Vijaya’ meaning victory, the victory over one's own mind and ‘dasami’ meaning tenth.
The 5 most important days of Durga Puja include Maha Shashti, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami, and Vijaya Dashami.
Apart from these rituals and customs, people also make special sweets during this festival. New clothes are bought and worn during the celebrations. All around, people celebrate with merriment, the victory of good over evil.