Bengal celebrates Mahanavami with community feasts
Kolkata: Underscoring the festival spirit of sharing and bonding, people from all walks of life partook of sumptuous community feasts at marquees and called on friends and relatives on Friday celebrating Mahanavami -- the fourth day of Durga Puja in West Bengal.
Men, mostly donning the festive attire of kurta and pyjama, and women, resplendent in bright saris, greeted friends, relatives and other acquaintances, clicked selfies and idled away time with banter and fun, soaking in the infectious carnival spirit.
At the marquees and the households worshipping the Goddess, people ate 'bhog' (community feast of food items offered to the Goddess first), comprising a varied spread from 'luchis' (deep fried puffed bread) to 'khichuri', vegetable items, to fish and even mutton.
The religious rituals of Mahanavami or ninth lunar day began around 10 p.m. on Thursday after the end of Sandhi Puja held at the confluence of Mahaashtami (eighth lunar day) and Mahanavami.
As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga killed Chando and Mundo -- two 'asuras' (demons) at the confluence (Sandhi) of the two days. The Goddess was worshipped as the undefeated - and offered her favourite food items.
This was followed by Maha Arati. In many of the traditional households celebrating the festival, 'yagna' (rituals done before the sacred fire) was organised before the morning puja rituals came to an end.
The five-day carnival is the biggest annual event in this part of the world when even newspapers are not published and roads are choked with human traffic throughout day and night.
According to Bengali tradition, Durga Puja begins with the symbolic arrival of Goddess Durga on Earth along with her sons Kartik and Ganesha and daughters Saraswati and Laxmi on Sashthi and ends on Dashami, celebrated across the country as Dussehra.
Traditionally, idols of Goddess Durga depict her as slaying demon Mahishasur. She is shown astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her 10 arms.