MAHA SAPTAMI TODAY
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Oct 19: Assam, along with eastern India, plunged into festivities and merriment as the five-day Durga puja festival got off to a rousing start on Monday.
Durga idols were installed in some 500 community puja marquees in the city as blowing of conch shells, beats of dhaak (drums), clash of cymbals, and incantation of hymns and mantras welcomed the Mother Goddess.
As evening descended, the city lit up with ormental puja lighting and gaily decorated pavilions, many of which have been built around special themes.
This year, the festival will span four days as vami and Dashami fall on the same day - October 22. The idols are however scheduled for immersion on October 23.
Shashthi - the sixth day of the lur calendar - also marked the beginning of the puja rituals.
Wishing the people on the occasion, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said Durga Puja signifies triumph of truth and righteousness in the struggle between good and evil.
In a statement, Gogoi said, “Durga Puja unites us to serve the poor and deprived and work for humanity and wellbeing of everybody and working towards building a just society, in which peace and harmony prevails, keeping in view that service to mankind is service to God.” Gogoi further hoped that the festival would spread the message of peace, prosperity and goodwill among the people. Mythology states that Durga puja celebrates the annual descent of Goddess Durga, slayer of demon Mahishashur, accompanied by her four offspring - Ganesha, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati –to Earth to visit her parents. The goddess, astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her ten hands, stays for four days to eradicate all evil from Earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva’s abode at Kailash on Dashami.
Sacrifice of animals and vegetables will mark Maha Saptami tomorrow.
Special arrangements have been made at the Shaktipeeths of Goddess Durga in the city – the Jagrato Devalayas of Devi Durga at Kamakhya and Ugratara Peeth Sthans – where rituals will start from tomorrow morning. The priests at these two temples do not conduct ‘agomoni’ and ‘bisarjan’, as the Goddess is worshipped throughout the year.
On Saptami tomorrow, goats, ducks, pigeons, white gourds and sugarcane will be sacrificed at the altar while on vami, buffalos will be sacrificed. Some 12 buffalos and hundreds of other animals will be sacrificed at Ugratara Devalaya this year where the puja will be conducted in Vedic tradition.
These Shaktipeeths in the city occupy a special place in the hearts of devotees for holding on to the origil Vedic traditions till date. Even the priests who offer prayers to Goddess Durga belong to the same family, with the traditions having been passed down by their forefathers.
The five-day festival translates into frenzied pandal-hopping (visiting marquees) in new clothes, meeting friends and family and stuffing oneself to the brim with traditiol delicacies. Decked up in all their fineries, people have already started crowding the marquees in the city, besides rushing to the markets for last-minute shopping.