Durga Puja, which is also known as Sharadotsav, is a Hindu festival celebrated all over India, especially West Bengal. Celebrated over five days in late September or early October, it marks the triumph of good over evil symbolised by the slaying of the demon called Mahisasura by Goddess Durga.
According to Hindu mythology, Mahisasura had obtained a boon of invincibility from Lord Brahma meaning no man or God could kill him. Taking advantage of the boon, he started harassing everyone and chased the Gods out of heaven. Thereafter, Goddess Durga was created by all the gods to defeat Mahisasura.
Goddess Durga’s arrival on Earth is identified as Mahalaya, which heralds the beginning of Durga Puja.
Here is the Durga Puja calendar of 2018:
Mahalaya – 8 October 2018 (Monday)
Mahalaya is believed to be the day Goddess Durga descends on earth every day. The eyes on the idols of the Goddess is drawn on this day in a ritual called Chokkhu Daan.
Maha Panchami – 14 October 2018 (Sunday)
Panchami or the 5th day marks the beginning of the celebration of the festival.
Maha Sashti – 15 October 2018 (Monday)
On Sasthi, Goddess Durga is welcomed in a ritual known as ‘Pran Prathistha’. In the evening, the face of the idol is unveiled and the custom is called ‘Bodhon’.
Maha Saptami – 16 October 2018 (Tuesday)
The bathing ceremony of Navapatrika — nine plants (banana, pomegranate, turmeric, Jayanti, Ashoka, bel, arum plant, colocasia and paddy) — takes place on this day before the puja starts.
Maha Ashtami – 17 October 2018 (Wednesday)
Ashtami or Durga Ashtami is one of the most important days. Devotees fast on Ashtami. Sandhi puja, which is considered very auspicious, is performed on this day during the time when Asthami tithi ends and Navami begins.
Maha Navami – 18 October 2018 (Thursday)
On Navami, Goddess Durga is worshipped as Mahisasurmardini – the annihilator of the buffalo demon. The puja begins with Mahasanan and Shodashopachar on the final day of the festival.
Bijaya Dashami – 19 October 2018 (Friday)
Dashami is observed as the day when the Goddess supposedly returns to her abode. Women offer the Goddess sweets and apply vermilion on her feet and then on each other.