I t’s again time to welcome Uma/Durga Devi to her maternal home. The heartwarming beat of dhaaks interspersed with the melodious strains of “agomoni”, or traditional songs, celebrates the sojourn of Devi Durga as the distinct aroma of dhuno (Frankincense), fills the air.

The Puja ceremonies start with Bodhan, or invoking Devi Durga, on the sixth day (Maha Sasthi). According to the Kalika Puran, Lord Rama worshipped the goddess in order to secure her blessings for victory in the battle against Ravana.

As per the Sastras, the goddess can be worshipped only during spring (Vasanta) as it falls during the six-month period when the sun moves northwards from the equator (Uttarayan).

Durga Puja performed in this season does not require a “Bodhan”. But Rama supposedly offered worship during Dakhinayan, or the sun’s southward journey, when the gods are asleep. To offer puja during this season, one needs to awake the god and the process is known as “Bodhan” or awakening.

Brahma helped Rama by awakening goddess Durga on this day, Sasthi, beneath a Bilva or Bael tree (Marmelos). Hence the tradition of the Bilva tree worship. To awaken the sleeping Devi Durga, Lord Brahma recited the hymn, “O Devi, awake and help Rama destroy Ravana”.

Devi appeared in a Beal leaf as a maiden. Since Rama had to awaken the goddess prematurely, it is called “Akaal (untimely) Bodhan (awakening)”. In Bengal it is also known as “Saradiya uthsab” as autumn is called Sarat Kal. To mark the auspicious appearance of Devi Dugra, Bodhan is performed before Puja celebrations.

On Maha Sasthi, the day starts with Kalparamba ritual in the early hours of the morning. It deals with the Sankalpa to conduct the Puja properly, abiding by all the rituals and customs. A ghata (copper pot filled with water) is installed in a corner of the mandapor pandal and prayers are offered to Durga and Chandi.

At dusk on Sasthi, the main ritual of Bodhan is carried out by unveiling the face of the deity. A Bilva branch is kept in the ghataand the Divine Mother is worshipped to awaken. After Bodhon is “Adhivas” ritual, invocating the goddess Durga in the Bilva tree.

Then “Amantran” is performed, where the Devi is invited to accept the puja, as she comes from Kailash. The main Puja starts the following day ~ Saptami ~ and continues up to Dashami.