Durga Puja 2023: Its Origin and Emergence in Assam
Guwahati, the heart of Assam, prepares to celebrate the largest holiday in magnificent style. The Durga Puja event, which lasts five days, begins this year on October 20. The idols of Goddess Durga may be seen in the neighborhood puja pandals with only a few days till Durga Puja. The Durga Puja celebrations in Guwahati are well-known throughout the state for their artistic and beautiful pandals. Celebrations throughout the city are in full swing as the festival approaches. The massive puja pandals are breathtaking. The Puja pandals, idols, and decorations each year are themed, as decided by the organisers.
Famous Pandals of Guwahati 2023
The Ramayana has been chosen as the subject for the Platinum Jubilee celebration by the Jai Hind Club, of Pandu New Colony, with a 60-foot-tall monument of Lord Rama as the main attraction. This task has been assigned to talented sculptors from West Bengal and Assam. The organizers of the Pandu locality’s oldest puja, which is now known for hosting several Durga Pujas, have gained several accolades throughout the years.
The Chatribari Sarbajanin Puja Devosthan, which is close to K.C. Das Commerce College, is preparing to host a distinctive musical performance. The committee hopes to send guests back in time to experience the musical instruments of yore with the 15-lakh budgeted for this year’s puja pandal.
This year, Athgaon will present a Durga Puja Pandal with a tribal motif. The Athgaon Durga Puja Sarbajanin Committee began holding celebrations in 1983, which is when this religious celebration began. The puja pandal’s ceremonial opening will serve as a special homage to tribal culture, with a budget of Rs. 28 lakhs.
The Santipur Sluice Gate Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee is preparing to showcase an enticing “Purana Haveli”-themed pandal for their 25th Durga Puja celebration. A laser show will also be included in this year’s Durga Puja at Santipur Sluice Gate, giving the traditional celebrations a more contemporary feel. To bring this complex concept to life, a budget of almost Rs. 21 lakhs has been set aside.
The Bishnupur Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee plans to wow guests with a beautiful pandal at the Bishnupur school grounds with a theme inspired by the Vrindavan Chandrodaya Temple in a spectacular show of devotion and craftsmanship. The pandal for this year is impressively tall at 130 feet, guaranteeing a visual spectacle for everyone in attendance. The committee has spent every penny of its about Rs. 50 lakhs allotted money to bring this complex topic to life.
The Latasil Durga Puja Committee will display a lavish pandal with a massive Shiva Linga. With a spending limit of Rs. 16 lakhs, the beautifully carved Shiva Linga would soar to a spectacular height of almost 60 feet. The artist Jago Bose, a native of Cooch Behar, is the mind behind this mesmerizing pandal. On October 22, Maha Ashtami, a puppet play is also planned to amuse the crowd as the celebrations advance. A Nagara Naam performance will also be included in the Latasil Puja starting on Saptami.
Origin of Durga Puja in Assam
Assam is reported to have celebrated Durga Puja ever since the beginning of time. Sculptures of Shiva-Parvati, Dashmukha, Dashbhuja Durga, Singhabahini Durga, and other figures from the ninth to the twelfth centuries have been discovered during digging operations at various locations around Assam. Some archaeologists believe that the statues of Shiva and Durga discovered in several locations date back to the 7th century or earlier which led many of them to assume that Assam has been performing Durga Puja since before the 7th century.
Some historians assert that Bali Narayan, the ruler of Darrang in 1614 AD, was a devotee of Durga. In this way, the deity was worshipped and instead of delighting in celebrations as we do now, they devoted themselves to. The very first Durga Puja in Assam was said to be held by Maharaja Naranarayana using a clay idol. When a relationship between Narayana and the Ahom Swargadeu Chufamfaa was formed, the Ahoms learned about the worship of Durga and the earthen idol of the Koch kingdom. At Bhatiapara village, located in the Shivsagar district, on the banks of the Namdang River, the clay image of the Goddess Durga is then worshipped. As a result, the Brahmaputra valley experienced an entirely novel enlightenment and the custom of worshipping the goddess’ earthen statue was established.
Tithis and Timings
Maha Panchami also known as the Preparation Day embarks on October 19th. Maha Sashti falls on 20th October aka Friday. The day after, i.e., 21st October marks Saptami. Followed by Ashtami which falls on 22nd October. Navami which marks Maa Durga’s victory over Mahisasura and 23rd October marks Vijayadashami, the end of Durga Puja and Navaratri, and celebrates the victory of good over evil.
Panchami Tithi starts at 01:12 a.m. on October 19th and ends on October 20th at 12:31 a.m. Maha Shashti Tithi starts on October 20th at 12:31 a.m. and ends on October 20th at 11:24 p.m. Maha Saptami Tithi starts on October 20th at 11:24 p.m. and ends on October 21st at 09:53 p.m. Maha Ashtami Tithi starts on October 21st at 09:53 pm and ends on October 22nd at 07:58 pm. Maha Navami Tithi starts on October 22nd at 07:58 pm and ends on October 23rd at 05:44 pm. Vijaya Dashami Tithi starts on October 23rd at 05:44 pm and ends on October 24th at 03:14 PM and Durga Visarjan Shubh Muhurat is on October 24th from 05:44 am to 08:03 am.
Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsav, is an auspicious Hindu festival that commemorates Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demon king Mahishasura, which is why the Goddess is also known as Mahishasura Mardini. Even though West Bengal is where the holiday is most widely observed, Assam, Odisha, Bihar, Tripura, and Jharkhand all mark Durga Puja with great fanfare. Folklores hold that Durga is the personification of Shakti or God’s power and that the goddess assumes various guises to conquer evil forces multiple times. While Durga Puja commemorates this triumph over evil, devotees also worship Durga’s nine avatars over the festival’s nine days. They are the following: Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri.
As the Hindu faith holds the belief that Durga overcame Mahishasura on this day by fusing the energies of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the celebration of Shardiya Durgotsav serves to appease Maa Durga and seek her blessings, fasts are observed on either all nine days or in pairs, the first two or the last two days of Durgotsav. Maa Durga is speculated to descend on Earth from Devlok over these nine days and alleviate all the concerns of her devotees. In addition to being a Hindu religious holiday, Durgotsav is also a time for family reunion, renewal, and celebration of traditional culture and customs. The ten-armed goddess riding the lion is adorned with tremendous fervour and devotion, the rites, which call for 10 days of fasting, feasting, and worship, are observed with great merriment and grandeur.
Origins of Durga Puja outside of Assam
The late 1500s are credited with witnessing the first significant devotion of Goddess Durga in written history. The original Durga Puja purportedly began in Bengal by the landowners, or zamindar, of Dinajpur and Malda. A different tale suggests Raja Kangshanarayan of Taherpur or Bhabananda Mazumdar of Nadiya initiated the first Sharadiya or Autumn Durga Puja in Bengal in or about 1606. The first communal puja, known as the “baro-yaari” puja, or the “twelve-pal” puja, was performed in 1790 by the twelve friends of Guptipara in Hoogly, West Bengal. They collaborated while requesting the community at large to serve funds. In the words of Somendra Chandra Nandy in “Durga Puja: A Rational Approach,” published in The Statesman Festival, 1991, Raja Harinath of Cossimbazar, who celebrated the Durga Puja at his family house in Murshidabad from 1824 to 1831, brought the baro-yaari puja to Kolkata in 1832.
In 1910, the Sanatan Dharmotsahini Sabha organized the first true communal puja in Baghbazar, Kolkata, with complete public input, public control, and public involvement, replacing the baro-yaari puja with the sarbajanin, or community puja. M. D. Muthukumaraswamy and Molly Kaushal contend that the “public” form of Bengali Durga Puja is presently the most well-liked variant in Folklore, Public Sphere, and Civil Society. In Bengal in the 18th and 19th centuries, the institution of the communal Durga Puja made a significant contribution to the growth of Hindu Bengali culture.
Many Bengalis moved to Delhi in 1911 when British India’s capital was moved there to serve in the government. Around 1910, the ‘mangal kalash,’ a symbol of the deity, was ritually consecrated during the first Durga Puja in Delhi. The Delhi Durga Puja Samiti presently holds this Durga Puja, also known as the Kashmere Gate Durga Puja, on the grounds of the Bengali Senior Secondary School on Alipur Road in Delhi, marking its centenary in 2009 and is remembered by the nation at large.
Durga, also known as Pratima, is a traditional clay statue shown according to the iconography outlined in the scripture the conventional representation of the goddess worshipped during the Durga Puja is highly precise. The Gods combined their abilities to create Durga, a beautiful goddess with 10 arms that each bear their deadliest weapon. Kartikeya, Ganesha, Saraswati, and Lakshmi are among Durga’s four offspring depicted in the diorama. Clay is embellished with two different types of decorations: sholar shaaj and daker shaaj. Traditionally, the white core of the shola reed, which grows in marshes, is used to embellish the pratima in its initial instance. The usage of beaten silver expanded as the devotees’ riches rose. The silver used to be sent by mail (dak) and imported from Germany. Consequently, it came to be known as daker shaaj. The enormous temporary canopies that house the symbols are known as “pandals,” and they are supported by a bamboo pole structure and covered in vibrant fabric. For the countless people who go “pandal-hopping” over the four days of Durga Puja, modern pandals are inventive, creative, and ornamental all at once.