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Durga Puja is one of the most celebrated festivals of India to invoke the grace of Mother Durga. It is a grand affair through out the country, with celebrations differing from each other, but entertaining a central concept of worshipping the Divine Mother Durga.
Preparations for Durga Puja is as elaborate as the Puja. The Puja, while belonging to the realm of religion has evolved into a mass social event in the present day. Getting started with work commencing from the making of enormous Pandals and varied clay models of the Mother mark the beginning of the preparation of Durga Puja.
Clay Models Of Goddess Durga
West Bengal specializes in the making of clay idols of Goddess Durga for the festival. It requires painstaking efforts in the making of the clay models yet fulfilling and rewarding in the culmination of it.
The effort associated with the making of the clay idols of Goddess Durga involves a lot of rites and rituals. The clay for the idols is collected on Akshaya Tritiya on the banks of River Ganges. After performing the required rites, the clay out of which the idols are made is transported. A significant event associated with the process is 'Chakku Daan', meaning 'donation of the eyes'. The Eyes of the Goddess is then painted on 'Mahalaya' or on the first day of the Puja. The artisans who paint the eyes of the mother keep a fast for a day, following a vegetarian diet.
The making of the clay models involve different aspects and each of them is entrusted to different groups while the making of the head, face, arms and feet are attended to by the experts called 'Pals'. It is a methodical process done with care and expertise. The skeleton is created with bamboos and straw on which the clay modelling is created.
It is these clay idols of Goddess Durga that we all worship with fervour through out the ten day festival.
The clay idols of the Mother represent Her manifested form. The immersion of the clay idols in water bodies at the culmination of the Puja portrays the unmanifest nature of the Mother.
Durga Puja Pandal
Durga Puja Pandals are structures where the Goddess Durga is installed for the purpose of worship in the neighbourhood. Streets turn into numerous places of worship overnight. The Pandals are either elaborate grand expressions or modest ones. Today different themes are adopted for the Pandals and prizes are distributed for the best form of creativity .
Durga Puja Preparations at homes
People gear up for the celebration of the much awaited festival. The houses are tidied and decorated as some people also perform Durga Puja in their homes. They start looking out to purchase the best idol of the Mother for their worship. They also shop for clothes and ornaments for the decoration of the idol.
Some women engage in making sweets and savouries for the festival. People who keep fasts for Navratri tune their bodies to take up their fast by following lighter forms of diets.
So let us all get geared to worship the Mother during Durga Puja and receive Her grace.