Idol of Goddess Durga with idols of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Karthik and Ganesha during Durga Puja at CR Park in New Delhi.
Durga Puja also referred to as Durgotsava or Sharadotsav is an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It refers to all the six days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami. The dates of Durga Puja celebrations are set according to the traditional Hindu calendar and the fortnight corresponding to the festival is called Devi Paksha. Devi Paksha is preceded by Mahalaya, the last day of the previous fortnight Pitri Paksha, ('Fortnight of the Forefathers'), and is ended on Kojagori Lokkhi Puja.
Durga Puja is widely celebrated in the Indian states of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Tripura and West Bengal, where it is a five-day annual holiday. In West Bengal and Tripura, which has a majority of Bengali Hindus, it is the biggest festival of the year. Not only is it the biggest Hindu festival celebrated throughout the state, it is also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society. Apart from eastern India, Durga Puja is also celebrated in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. Durga Puja is also celebrated as a major festival in Nepal and in Bangladesh all over the places of Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Bogra and other major places and all the villages of Bangladesh where the 20% population is Hindu.3 day National Holiday is being declared and most of the educational institutions remain closed as it is one of the major national festival also in Bangladesh which is widely celebrated and peoples from all religion participate in the program.
The prominence of Durga Puja increased gradually during the British Raj in Bengal. After the Hindu reformists identified Durga with India, she became an icon for the Indian independence movement. In the first quarter of the 20th century, the tradition of Baroyari or Community Puja was popularised due to this. After independence, Durga Puja became one of the largest celebrated festivals in the whole world.
Durga Puja also includes the worship of Shiva, who is Durga's consort (Durga is an aspect of Goddess Parvati), in addition to Lakshmi, Saraswati with Ganesha and Kartikeya, who are considered to be Durga's children. Worship of mother nature is done, through nine types of plant (called "Kala Bou"), including a plantain (banana) tree, which represent nine divine forms of Goddess Durga. Modern traditions have come to include the display of decorated pandals and artistically depicted idols (murti) of Durga, exchange of Vijaya greetings and publication of Puja Annuals.
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