One of the largest festivals in India celebrated with dance, music and some great food. West Bengal has been noted as the first state to have ever celebrated this festival but in today’s time, every corner of the country celebrates this festival at the same intensity. Big cities like Mumbai and Delhi have pandals set-up across the city and people can see different levels of celebration. There are variations of this festival across the country, some celebrate it for six days while others celebrate for ten days. In Northern India, this festival is celebrated as Navratri (nine nights). The most important days in this festival are the last 4 days, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijay Dashami.
There is a mythological reasoning behind this celebration. The puja signifies the victory of goddess Durga against a demon named Mahishasura. According to the Hindu mythology, Mahishasura was set to fight against the Gods and they left it all upto Durga to slay the demon. The battle began on the seventh day of Navratri, now known as Maha Saptami and it ended on the 10th day, Vijay Dashami.
The goddess is known by several other names – Bhavani, Amba, Chandika, Gauri, Parvati, Mahishasuramardini, she is the ‘Mother goddess’ and the ‘Protector of the righteous’ for Hindu devotees. The goddess is known as the “destroyer of evil” which helps us picture her as a woman with ten hands and all possessing a lethal weapon.
The first instance of this puja happening was in the 1500s in West Bengal. However, today it has gained a lot of importance and is celebrated around the globe and is also known as one of the largest festivals to be celebrated in India, but this only happened during the independence movement. Durga was also considered to be an icon for the country and the freedom struggles.
Today, the festival is celebrated with a lot of zeal and energy across the country. The last day is when people immerse the idols in water or in some places, young girls are dressed as the goddess and they partake in various rituals at temples and also in public celebrations. The whole country cheers and dances together to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
This year, the Calcutta High Court has imposed curbs on the immersion of idols after 10 pm in hindsight of Muharram on the 30th of September, which is also Vijay Dashami and the 1st of October. A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rakesh Tiwari and Justice Harish Tandon heard three public interest litigation petitions and made the decision to allow immersion of idols on all days as per the calendar till 12 am. The court asked the police administration to chart out a route for the idol immersion process and Muharram to avoid any hassles. This matter is yet to be disposed of by the court.
Justice Tiwari wanted the counsel representing the state to come up with proof of instances when disturbances had erupted because of Vijay Dashami and Muharram occurring on the same day. Justice Tiwari made it very clear that he wanted proof or he will not send this order out as he said, “If there is nothing in the past and you say I have apprehension of dream that some problem may occur. This will not do.”