Durga Puja "Worship of Durga" also referred to as Durgotsava or Sharadotsav is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It starts with Mahalaya and refers to all the six days observed as, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami. Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon “Mahishasura” Thus, Durga Puja festival epitomises the victory of Good over Evil. Durga Puja includes the worship of Lord Shiva, who is Goddess Durga's husband (Durga is an aspect of Goddess Parvati) and her children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesh.
•Mahalaya: Invoking the Mother Goddess
Mahalaya is an auspicious occasion observed seven days before the Durga Puja, an invitation to Goddess Durga to descend on earth. This is done through the chanting of mantras and singing devotional songs
Goddess Durga descends to earth with her four children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartikeya and Ganesh. The colourful idols of the goddess that have been handcrafted and installed for the festival are unveiled on this day.
The first day of Durga Puja, is when the holy presence of Goddess Durga is invoked into the idols in a ritual called Pran Pratisthan. The day commences with the Kola Bou’s bath a banana tree is bathed before dawn in a river or body of water, dressed in a sari like a newly wed bride (known as "Kola Bou" or the banana bride) and placed besides Lord Ganesh, as his wife. Nine different types of plants are worshiped, representing the nine divine forms of Goddess Durga.
One of the most significant days of Durga Puja. The goddess is worshiped in the form of a young unmarried virgin girl, adorned as Goddess Durga, in a ritual called the Kumari Puja. In the evening, the important Sandhi Puja is performed to worship Goddess Durga in her Chamunda form to kill the buffalo demon Mahishasura.
The last day of worship, which concludes with a maha aarti (great fire ceremony) to mark the end of the rituals and prayers. Goddess Durga is believed to have killed the buffalo demon Mahishasura on this day, and she's worshiped in the form of Mahisasuramardini, the Annihilator of the Buffalo Demon. Everyone gets dressed up in their finest, most glamorous clothes. The goddess's favourite food (bhog) is prepared and offered to her, and then distributed to devotees.
(Sindur Utsav) Married women offer red vermillion powder to the Goddess and smear themselves with it (this powder denotes the status of marriage, and hence fertility and bearing of children). Its time for Goddess Durga to return back to her husband abode thus the idols are taken for immersion. After the immersion, people visit their relatives and friends to give and receive blessings. Sweets are distributed and lavish dinners shared. The dress code for the day is traditional and classic.