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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

celebrating #Ma Durga Puja ** at Kolkatta

The festival of “Navarathri” is about to begin in South India.  This comes at the ascendence of moon in the month of Purattasi.  This year, Mahalaya Amavasai  was on 19th Sept 2017.  At Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam,  Navarathri and Sri Vedavalli thayar purappadu will be from 21.9.2017  only.   

The 9 day Navratri festivities are to Goddesses Durga, Maha Lakshmi and Saraswathi.    It is customary in Southern States to keep a display known as ‘bommai Golu” (display of dolls) in most houses.  Understand that in some States, this spills to streets as people celebrate the festival vividly and so grandly.  It is famous in Kolkatta and adjacent places as ‘Ma Durga Pooja’.    Ever seen a 3D idol ? 


A street art in the form of 'Rangoli' has covered an entire 1.25-km stretch in South Kolkata, as part of Durga Puja decoration.  Quint (source for photo) reports that an estimated 350 students from Art College drew various colour designs along a 1.25 km stretch from Sarat Bose Road to Vivekananda Park near the Samaj Sebi Sangha puja pandal.  The initiative for the Rangoli was taken with support from a corporate house, it is stated. 

Autumn (Sharat) is regarded as one of the best seasons in India.  The sun is on his southward journey and, as his blazing rays begin to slant, the subcontinent feels freedom from the oppressive heat of summer months.  The monsoon has infused new life into trees, shrubs, creepers, herbs, grass, moss and lichen; and Gaia, the Earth Goddess, shows herself off in her richly embroidered green apparel of lush vegetation everywhere.  Here is something on the grand festival read in : /www.belurmath.org/

In the villages there is a look of plentitude and peace.  The granaries are aplenty with freshly garnered grain, the fields offer large open spaces with cattle grazing here and there, and along the borders of fields one can see rows of white and light pink kashphool(flowers of a kind of tall grass) tassels waving triumphantly in the breeze.  Overhead, the sky is deep blue with an occasional white cloud sailing across lazily to an unknown destination.  A kind of mystic silence pervades the air, broken only by the laughter of children playing here and there.  It is as if Nature has prepared herself for the advent of the Divine Mother.  Indeed, which other season can be a better one to welcome the Divine Mother than autumn? And Durga Puja is about the advent of the Divine Mother.

Worship of the Divine Mother is one of the oldest forms of worship known to humanity.  In prehistoric times, God was worshipped as the Divine Mother all over the world.  Though evidences exist of the  Mother Worship in  different places in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia; in our Maha Barath,  Mother worship is beyond the framework of a cult and became a full-fledged living religion supported by an advanced theology, scriptures, rites, customs and festivals which are followed by millions of people even in modern times.  And in Bengal, worship of God as Mother attained the highest form of a cultural refinement and ritual sophistication, and became the dominant faith and practice of the people.

The nine days from the first day after the new moon (known as Mahalaya) in the Indian month of Ashwin to the 9th day constitute the festival of Navaratri which is observed all over India.  During this period, the Divine Mother is worshipped in some form or other.  The majority of Hindus who cannot conduct such worship at home visit Mother's temple in their locality after taking bath and putting on new clothes.  The tenth day is known as Dassera. 

It is during this period of Navaratri that Durga Puja is celebrated in Bengal.  The celebration of Durga Puja is a unique feature of the socio-religious culture of Bengal.  In no other part of India does the worship of Durga affect the lives of the people so deeply as it does in Bengal.  Festivities begin from Mahalaya and go on for nearly a month.  During this period, people put on new clothes, worship the Divine Mother at any of the beautiful Durga pandals put up in different parts of the city or town, and enjoy feasts.  

The most striking aspect of Durga Puja is the image of the Divine Mother as Mahishasura-mardini.  Here the Divine Mother is seen as having ten arms, each wielding a weapon.  Once the image is consecrated, and the Deity is invoked in it, it undergoes a transfiguration.  It is no longer a clay image but the living Goddess, radiating power, knowledge, love and joy, the benign Mother of the Universe who has come to bless Her children and to assure them of Her love, help and protection.
a photo taken during an earlier visit to Calcutta nearer famous Kali Temple
not during Durga Puja but during normal days !

Another prominent feature of Durga Puja celebration is the gorgeous Pandal or Durga dalan in which the worship is conducted.  Durga Puja is meant for public worship, in which a large number of people participate. Its rituals and paraphernalia are quite expensive.  Formerly only kings and aristocratic families could afford to celebrate such public worship.  But in modern times Durga Puja is done through organized community effort.  People of a locality or street form a celebration committee, take collections and put up the imposing pandal.

~ and even in such celebrations some try to politicize and cash in … however, the recent controversial move of the WB Govt took a serious turn today .. Two days after Mamata Banerjee's reaction to the Calcutta High Court's observation on handling of religious festivals, the High court blasted the West Bengal government over its latest notification on Durga idol immersion. According to an ANI report, the high court asked the state not to divide communities on religious lines.

The Mamata Banerjee-led government had issued a notification prohibiting Durga idol immersion between September 30 and October 1 on account of Muharram, observed by Muslims as a day of mourning. The immersion could continue on October 2, the order stated.  "Why can't two communities celebrate together? When you (state government) are firm there is communal harmony in the state, why are you creating communal distinction between the two? Let them live in harmony. Do not create a line between them. Let them live together," the court observed.

The Mamata Banerjee government had earlier asked Durga Puja organisers to complete the immersion ceremony by 6 pm on September 30, which was later extended to 10 pm. Some organisers immerse the idols on the day after Dashami. But the government said the next day was kept for Taazia procession. The West Bengal government cited law and order as the reason to keep the two rituals apart.  A  couple of Hindu organisations went to court and filed a public interest litigation claiming that the Mamata Banerjee government was trying to divide people on the basis of religion. Hearing the PIL, the Calcutta High Court had directed the Mamata government to explore if immersion of Durga idols on September 30 could go beyond midnight till 1.36 am to match the specified time of immersion in the lunar almanac (panchaang) according to Vishuddha Siddhanta.

So much so for the Government time and again caught on the wrong foot ! ~  3D printing involves the creation of a three-dimensional solid object from digital designs or models, in this case, created by sculpting apps. This gives an impression of depth and makes it look as if the figure is nearer and coming to you ..  here is a photo of Durga 3D image taken at Netaji Subash Chandra Bose airport.


With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Sept. 2017.

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