As the beautiful white cotton-candy clouds float against the clear deep blue sky, as the rhythmic beats of the dhaak fill the air, as the sweet smell of blossoming shiuli phool (flower) calm your soul, and the beautiful sight of white kaash phool (flower) soothe your eyes, you know that the much awaited festival of the season - Durga Pujo is around the corner.
Ever wondered how this grand festival came into being? Let us peek into the past.
According to Hindu mythology Devi Durga was a power created in heaven by the Devas (Gods) Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar as "Shakti" to overcome the buffalo demon Mahishasur who had been tormenting them, the lesser Gods and Sanyasis (hermits) for long.
While Durga is worshipped in her numerous forms across the country, it is only in Bengal that the true grandeur of her power is experienced through the magnificence of the festivities held in the honour of the Goddess during Durga Pujo.Know more about Maa Durga
The history of Durga Pujo dates back to the 14th Century manuscripts, where the first mention of the Goddess is believed to be found.
The Jain text Yasatilaka by Somadeva around the 11th or 12th century speaks about the festival dedicated to a warrior goddess Durga.
A mention of the Goddess is also found in Vedic literature as well as the Ramayana and Mahabharat where Shri Ramchandra before his war with Ravana, Arjun and Yudhishtir prior to the Kurukshetra war, are believed to have worshipped the Goddess.
Bengalis worship Goddess Durga in the Hindu month of 'Aashwin' (around October). However, according to Hindu scriptures, Goddess Durga was traditionally worshipped in the spring. This deviation of worshipping the Goddess in autumn, which is known as 'Sharat kal' in Bengali, is known as Akaal Bodhon (literally translated as Untimely Worship)More
It is believed that the worship of Durga as a warrior and her more violent form Kali began post the Medieval Era during the Sultanate period in Bengal and later spread to Assam, Odisha, Bihar and other states of India.More
In the 16th Century Bengal, zamindars (landlords) in Malda and Dinajpur are believed to have been the pioneers of the grand celebrations associated with Durga Pujo. Some other historical sources also mention of Bhabananda Mazumdar from Nadiya or Raja Kangshanarayan of Taherpur as being the first to have introduced the autumn Durga Puja or Sharodiya in Bengal.
Way back in 1707, the Nawab Nazim of Murshidabad, Murshid Quli Khan encouraged Hindu zamindars like Lakshmi Kanta Majumdar to organize Durga Pujo with much grandeur in West Bengal. Some of these Bonedi Barir Pujo continue to remain amongst the most sought after heritage Pujo of Kolkata.
The first so-called 'Baarowari' (twelve-friends) Pujo was organized when 12 friends from Guptipara came together to arrange the festivities in 1790. Raja Harinath of Cossimbazar is also revered for hosting the Baarowari Pujo in 1832. However, by his time, the term 'Baarowari' had evolved to represent collective efforts.
The Sarbajanin or community Pujo meant for all and by all - gradually became a practice by 1910. Organized by Sanatan Dharmotsahini Sabha in Baghbazar, the first Sarbajanin Pujo had a humongous participation from the people.
Today, the love for the eternal Goddess of Power has led to Sarbajanin Pujo everywhere. People not just in India but across the globe share their happiness, excitement and devotion.