Spiritual harmony: Tradition and modernity in Durga Puja celebration

The arrival of autumn brings cheer to everyone’s hearts and souls.
Spiritual harmony: Tradition and modernity in Durga Puja celebration

Dipak Kurmi

(The writer can be reached at dipaknewslive@gmail.com.)

The arrival of autumn brings cheer to everyone’s hearts and souls. It signifies the onset of Durga Puja, a festival celebrated during the enchanting month of Ahin, when the fragrance of lily flowers purifies our minds. This season marks the time for the worship of Goddess Durga. Durga Puja holds immense religious and social significance for Hindus and is joyously celebrated in various parts of India, including West Bengal, Tripura, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha. In Assam, the tradition of Durga Puja has ancient roots, commemorating the goddess’s appearance to vanquish the demon forces. Known as Mahisha Mardini, Durga manifested through the combined power of deities like Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara, and others, aiming to save the three worlds from the tyrant Mahishasura.

Sharadiya Durga Puja is deeply intertwined with spirituality, creating a profound connection between individuals and divine energies. The moment one beholds the idol of Goddess Durga, a spiritual atmosphere permeates their mind, fostering a sense of reverence. Spirituality, in essence, is the acknowledgment of one’s beliefs and feelings regarding the existence of divine or miraculous powers. Its transformative impact on our lives is substantial, enhancing self-confidence, bringing inner peace, and alleviating anxiety.

A spiritual perspective contributes to the cultivation of positive energy within our minds, fostering mental stability and overall well-being. The expression of a spiritual attitude often manifests through devotion to God and prayer. The foundation of this attitude lies in unwavering faith in divine power, strengthening the connection between the individual and spirituality. Anticipation builds throughout the year as people eagerly await the blessings of Maa Durga, from the auspicious period of Mahalaya to the culmination of Vijaya Dashami. During this entire span, from Mahalaya to Vijaya Dashami, minds are infused with a profound sense of spirituality. This spiritual orientation serves as a guiding force, imparting the strength needed to navigate the journey of life with resilience and purpose.

The inevitability of change touches every aspect of life over time, prompting individuals to adapt to the demands of the modern era. Embracing modernity becomes essential in various domains to keep pace with evolving times, albeit with the caution that excess in anything can be detrimental and that the essence of uniqueness should be preserved. As days unfold, the realms of religion, politics, economy, and society all bear the imprint of modernity, with constructive and positive changes generally viewed as beneficial.

Religious ceremonies, including the celebration of Durga Puja, have witnessed an increase in grandeur compared to years past. Amidst these transformations, the importance of preserving spirituality remains paramount. Solely treating such events as festivals or excessively emphasising external aspects can potentially erode the spiritual essence and cultural significance. To impart a comprehensive understanding of Durga Puja, especially to the rising generation, a balanced emphasis on religious values, coupled with a positive fusion of spirituality and modernity, is crucial.

Nurturing a spiritual attitude among the younger generation is imperative for maintaining social order and combating societal issues. In the midst of the ongoing trend towards modernization, it becomes equally crucial for people’s minds to evolve in all spheres. In parallel to the gods seeking protection from demons through the worship of Durga and Lord Rama’s observance of Durga Puja before battling Ravana, the tradition of worshipping the primal power in autumn has endured through legends. This veneration of the original power has persisted across ages, symbolising the strength inherent in women. Consequently, real-world respect and honour for women are integral, acknowledging the inherent strength that each woman embodies.

Durga Puja, when approached with the right blend of spirituality and modernity, becomes a vessel for preserving religious culture and captivating the younger generation with their heritage. The distortion of modernity can, however, lead future generations to perceive the distorted form as the authentic one, posing a potential threat to both the nation and society. Generational gaps, inherent in differing thoughts, preferences, and dislikes, are inevitable. While some divergence is beneficial for personal and societal improvement, it is equally crucial for the younger generation to embrace traditions and positive aspects of the past.

The impact of generational gaps extends to religious practices, with each generation’s inclinations shaped by the evolving influences of modernity. It’s natural for modernity to permeate every aspect of life, yet preserving uniqueness and traditions against the influence of Western culture is paramount. In the context of spirituality, events like Sharadiya Durga Puja and other religious festivals should seamlessly integrate spirituality with modernity, ensuring that the essence of spirituality endures in people’s minds.

Changes in the decoration and appearance of Durga Puja, witnessed in recent years, reflect the evolving landscape of traditions. Various types of Puja Mandaps now grace the city, each unique in its design. While modernity brings about transformations, it is crucial to observe religious customs and traditions, keeping spirituality at the forefront. Striking a delicate balance ensures that the evolution towards modernity doesn’t distort the essence of spirituality or compromise the authenticity of cultural practices.

The quest for courage, confidence, and mental fortitude is universal in life. In navigating the journey forward, individuals find solace and strength through faith in God and spirituality. Durga, revered as the embodiment of Shakti, becomes a source of inspiration, instilling resilience in the minds of devotees. The celebration of Sharadiya Durga Puja, marked by a harmonious fusion of modernity’s virtues and spiritual essence, beckons everyone to partake in devotion. Under the divine gaze of Goddess Durga, may the prevailing injustices in society crumble, paving the way for a more just and harmonious existence.

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