The autumn season in Bengal and elsewhere brings lots of festivities and time for happiness, as it is filled with one festival after the other.
Jagadhatri Puja is one of the important festivals celebrated after Durga Puja, Laxmi and Kali Puja in the month of Kartik. Devotees worship and celebrate reincarnation of Goddess Durga in the name of Jagadhatri and create the splendid ambiance with high festive spirits. Jagaddhatri is referred as another name of Durga. In Sanskrit, Bengali and Assamse the word ‘Jagaddhatri’ literally means ‘Holder (dhatri) of the World (Jagat)’. The cult of Goddess Jagadhatri is directly derived from Tantra where she is a symbol of sattva besides being Durga and Kali, symbolising respectively Rajas and Tamas — all three basic components of Hindu philosophy.
The legends associated
The two cities of West Bengal are famous for the worshiping of this goddess, namely Krishnanagar (Nadia District) and Chandannagar (Former French colony, Hooghly District a small town, 30 km north of Kolkata) are very special in terms of their grandeur and popularity. Though, nowadays, Chandannagar displays much more opulence during this Puja, Krishnanagar, has a special historical significance in the advent of Jagadhatri Puja. According to legend, Krishnachandra Ray, the raja of Krishnanagar of the Nadia District, was the one introduced the public worship of goddess Jagaddhatri.
Once, Raja Krishnachandra, was captured by Siraj, the then ruling emperor, for defaulting taxes. When he was released from the prison, while returning by boat from Murshidabad to Nadia (this was at the time of the autumn Durga Puja), he heard the sound of the drums on the boat, signifying that it was the tenth or last day of the puja, and he, a devout follower of Durga, was depressed at missing the festivities.
Later that evening, he had a vision of the goddess Durga, appearing as a child, she told him to worship her in one month, on the ninth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Kartik, and also said that this would bring the same blessings from her. Later, while discussing this incident with the family priest, he was told that, this in fact was the goddess Jadadhatri. Krishnachandra ordered an artist to create a statue of the goddess Jagaddhatri, and he worshiped it with great splendor at the appointed time.
If one is to go by this legend, worship of Jagaddhatri was introduced during the middle of the eighteenth century. As the contemporary literature does not mention the puja however, it is likely that more public worship was begun later. The tradition, of worshipping Jagadhatri, is still followed in Krishnanagar Rajbari, with equal respite.
The festival was later initiated by Sarada Devi, Sri Ramakrishna’s wife who was believed to be reincarnation of the Goddess and still observed with high spirits in the centers of the Ramakrishna Mission all over the world. The puja was propagated as ‘Shakti Puja’, to overcome evils in our minds, and devils exist in the society.
The Puja is popularly called as the reincarnation of Goddess Durga, the savior to destroy evil and set peace on the earth.
One ancient version of advent of “Jagadhartri Devi” sayings is that after killing the devil Mahisasura Devi Durga was ignored by all gods and they celebrated the victory by putting all credits in their name as Devi Durga was created by assimilating the power of all Gods.
Fumed by insult Devi Durga secretly throws a grass leaf to them. Indra (the god of thunder), Vayu (the god of air), Agni (the god of fire) and Varun (the god of rain) all tried to destroy the grass leaf but they failed and Devi Durga finally came in front of all Gods in her new appearance. All Gods admitted that this bright beautiful Devi with four hands is none other than Goddess Jagadhatri, the Lord of the earth.
Another view says that during the war, devil Mahisasura changed his look in many form to confuse and decoy Devi Durga. When the devil took the form of an elephant Devi appeared with four hands along with a lion. That appearance is known as Jagadhatri. Goddess Jagadhatri killed the devil elephant with her deadly weapon called Chakra.
Here in place of Mahisasura, elephant is the devil. In Sanskrit elephant is known as ‘Kari’ and for the same the devil killed by Jagadhatri is known as ‘Karindrasura’.
Description of Devi
Unlike Devi Durga, while worshiping Jagadhatri Devi there is no Laxmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesh present with Jagadhatri. Only Jaya and Vijaya present.
The idol is made similar to that of Goddess Durga as Goddess Jagadhatri is depicted in Tantra and Purana as having the color of the morning sun, three-eyed and four arms holds a conch and a bow in her two left hands and in her two right hands, a chakra and a five-headed arrow and her mount is a lion.
Conch is the symbol of brilliance and purity, chakra destroys the evil spirit, while arrow /shaft represent wisdom and bow represents concentration of mind. The Goddess thus brings the spirit of wisdom, and marks the auspicious time, as per Hindu calendar.
Unlike Devi Durga, she is entangled by a snake on her neck, thus, signifying, fight against all odds in life.
The idol of goddess is decked up beautifully by red clothes and ornaments. The goddess is also presented garland around the neck.
The festival of Jagaddhatri Puja is celebrated in the splendid manner on the ninth day of the moonlit fortnight in the month of Kartik or November and the date depends on the Bengali calendar. This year, celebrations are scheduled to take place on November 5.
Passages from Chandi, the sacred text, are recited on this day and later the image of the goddess is immersed as in Durga Puja.
Devotees gather together to worship the Goddess offers puja to Jagadhatri Devi following the same rituals of Durga puja, except ‘Badhan’. Saptami, Astami and Navami puja use to offer at Navami Tithi and celebrate the occasion with full devotion.
In Delhi also it is celebrated at number of places including New Delhi Kali Bari the nerve center of Bengali arts and culture.
Jagadhatri Puja marks the end of the Hindu festivals, for the calendar year. Devotees again start counting the days, for the next festive season.