Bengal bids adieu to goddess Durga
It was a spectacle to behold. After four days and nights of revelry, Monday marked Vijaya Dashami, the last day of Durga Puja festivities when huge idols of the goddess were immersed by thousands of teary eyed devotees in West Bengal.kolkata Updated: Sep 28, 2009 21:23 IST
It was a spectacle to behold. After four days and nights of revelry, On Monday marked Bijoya Dashami, the last day of Durga Puja festivities when huge idols of the goddess were immersed by thousands of teary eyed devotees in West Bengal.
In keeping with tradition, the idols of Goddess Durga along with those of her four children - Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartik - were immersed with much fanfare in the Ganga and other rivers across the state.
But this came only after the womenfolk smeared the deities and each other with red vermilion. They also offered sweets to the gods.
"I am thoroughly enjoying 'sindoor khela' (smearing of vermilion). This is my first Durga Puja after marriage," Sandipta Basu said. Vermilion, with its blazing red colour, is a symbol of marriage for Hindu women.
Married women pray for the well-being of their families and long lives of their husbands while performing these rituals.
Schoolgoers were also seen at the pandals or marquees with books and pens in the belief that the goddess would bless them with a good academic record.
"I come to the pandal to take the blessings from Maa Durga and her daughters and sons every year," said Tanima, a student of Class 9.
Now begins a period when Bengalis wish each other "Shubho Bijoya" - Happy Bijoya Dashami - and visit each other's places with sweets. All sweet shops in the state were overcrowded on Monday and will be so for at least another week.
However, not all idols across the state are immersed on the same day. While the traditional puja organisers conduct the immersion on Dashami, some community puja organisers keep the idols in the pandals for one or two more days.
"We do the immersion on the day of Bijoya Dashami itself," said Ratan Pal, whose family has been conducting Durga Puja for the last 65 years.
Babughat, a popular stretch on the banks across the Ganga river, was teeming with thousands of people who turned up to watch the grand immersion spectacle as chants of "Bolo Bolo Durga Mai Ki Jai" (Hail, Mother Durga) rent the air.
Many foreigners also descended with their cameras to watch and click the colourful spectacle that comes only once a year.
There were many other venues for immersion too.
"Tight security has been arranged at the ghats (riverbanks) where immersions will take place. Today mainly the traditional idols will be immersed along with a few community pujas and Tuesday and Wednesday the other community pujas will be carrying out their immersions," a police official told IANS.
Men and women could be seen dancing to celebrate the occasion at Babughat.
For traditional pujas like Sovabazar Rajbari and Baghbazar Rajbari, several people carried the deities with their bare hands while others carried the idols on trucks. These revellers also carried a symbolic clay Neel Kontho Pakhi - a bird with a blue neck - with them. It was the carryover of a practice in the times of the zamindars, or big landowners, who used to set free these birds before immersion.
Indian mythology says that Durga Puja celebrates the annual descent of the goddess and her four children to her parental abode on earth. The goddess stays for four days to eradicate all evil from earth and on the fifth day of Dashami begins her return journey to her husband Lord Shiva's abode at Mount Kailash in the Himalayas.