Navratri brings with it some other festivals as well, such as Durga Puja, Dussehra etc. Durga Puja starts on the sixth day of Navratri. And this day is called Durga Shashti or Mahashashti. This is believed to be the day when Goddess Durga arrives in the mortal world after completing her journey from Kailash. Shashti puja has some very interesting rituals. Many women perform a special puja on the day of Durga Shashti.
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Durga Shashti falls on the sixth day of every lunar month. This day is dedicated to the welfare of the entire clan. Mothers perform Shashti puja for their children during Durga Puja. Although Shashti comes once in every month, the one falling during the Shukla Pakasha of Ashvin month is more special. Other auspicious Shashthi Tithis include Neel Shashti is the day when Lord Shiva is revered for the welfare of the children. Jamai Shashti is dedicated to the welfare of the son-in-law.
Similarly, Durga Shashti is an important day for all mothers because they are supposed to pray for the well being of their child. As Goddess Durga is presumed to be the Mother of the Universe, Durga Shashti takes on a special significance for mothers. On this day, mothers fast and eat certain limited food items. They perform the special ritual called 'anjali' and pray for their child's prosperity.
Durga Puja is the main festival of West Bengal. Four rituals namely Kalparamavo, Bodhon, Amantran and Adhibhas. In Bengal it is believed that the wife of Goddess Durga comes to her father's home during these five days. There it is also believed that Ganesha, Lord Kartikeya, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati are the daughters of Goddess Durga. That is one of the reasons why this day is considered more significant for the mothers. After the Shasthi Puja, the Durga Puja continues for four more days, till the Dashami Tithi and the fifth day, (also the tenth day of Navratri) is celebrated as Viajaya Dashami (known as Bijoya Dashami in Bengal). The day got its name when Goddess Durga had finally won the battle with all the demons on this day. In the remembrance of that, the festival of Durga Puja begins from the Shashti.
Typical, the day begins with the unveiling of the Goddess's face. Then the 'bodhon' or incitations ceremony of the Durga Puja happens. With this ritual, Durga Puja begins with full pomp and splendour. Women who have children usually fast till they participate in the 'anjali' wearing a new saree. They are prohibited from eating non-vegetarian food and rice on this day.
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