Durga Puja, being one of the biggest celebrations in India, is the symbol glorifying feminine power. This festival holds immense significance as this festival is commemorated to celebrate the defeat of evil. Apart from being such a grant and auspicious event, this festival also gives out an opportunity for people to gather, greet and eat together.
The root of this festival emerged from the victory of goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. Mahishasura was one of the strongest demons in Hinduism who was even feared by the heavens. He was one of the biggest threats to the gods because of evil sins and his shape-shifting evil craft as he even declared war against the gods. Goddess Druga stepped in to fight against Mahishasura and protect the world. Her victory over Mahishasura still remains as one of the greatest legends in Hinduism. Hence, today, the day she waged war against Mahishasura, is celebrated as Maha Saptami all over India, winning the war on the 10th day of Durga Puja, known as Vijay Dashami. Goddess Durga is also considered the symbol of courage and righteousness. Her ten beautiful hands, which carry ten different lethal weapons, show the ultimate power of the almighty, which we submit to every year during Durga Puja. She carries ten different weapons which were gifted by different gods as a sign of faith and respect. Her vehicle being the Lion also symbolizes bravery and heroism.
Durga Puja is celebrated all over India, with people calling her different names. If she is Bhagavati for some, then she is Gauri for the others. Her name is celebrated as Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kundalini, Java, Meenakshi, Kamakshi, or even as Durga herself, being the most powerfully combined incarnation of all.
Hindu mythology also highlights a segment in Ramayana where Shri Rama pays his respects to goddess Durga before leaving for his war with Ravana. Even if lord Rama’s rituals do not coincide with the season in which Durga Puja is celebrated now, his worship of the ‘Mahishasura Mardini’ by offering 108 blue lotuses and lighting 108 lamps clearly showed the respect possessed by the other deities for goddess Durga.
The first traces of the Durga Puja Celebration by ordinary human beings were found in West Bengal. It clearly justifies the fact that Durga Puja is the biggest festival in West Bengal now. Soon Durga Puja emerged as a joint celebration with people forming communities to celebrate the festival. Durga Puja became more provident as Raja Harinath of Cossimbazar began performing the Durga Puja at his ancestral home in Murshidabad.
After colonization, many people also witnessed Britishers attending Durga Pujas along with the Indian citizens. After the capital being shifted to Delhi, many Bengalis moved to Delhi for work purposes. This shift marked the first Durga Puja celebration in Delhi.
Ever since then, Durga Puja has been evolving in various ways. The festival of Durga Puja was soon a popular celebration in other parts of India as well. The celebration of Navratri turned out to be one of the biggest celebrations all over India. People avoid non-veg food for these nine days and devote themselves to the three goddesses, namely, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
Durga Puja now marks the celebration of the most significant divine feminine powers in Hinduism. People submit to the power, knowledge, and wealth of the divine feminine, which makes Durga Puja one of the most awaited festivals in Hinduism.