The weather turning pleasant, the autumn being heralded through the vibrant leaves, the model baju batik of celebration hanging in the environment is a sure shot indication that Durga Pooja is in the atmosphere. Durga Pooja may be the biggest festival of most Bengali Hindus in the Indian states of West Bengal, Orissa, Tripura, Assam, Jharkand and other parts of East India and Bangladesh. Even countries like Nepal and Bhutan celebrate the event with certain variations in the guidelines and customs. The event celebrates the of the goddess Durga and is definitely celebrated from the sixth day to the tenth day of the time of the waxing moon during the sixth month of the Bengali calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar the dates usually fall in the month of September or October.
Durga Pooja was traditionally done during the spring but statements that Lord Rama acquired to invoke the Goddess through the autumn due to the need of the hour. Rama was involved with a raging struggle with Ravana, the king of Lanka, now known as Sri Lanka, and Rama required the intervention of the goddess to turn the battle in his favor. However, with the duration of time the Durga Pooja held in autumn has gained more popularity among the masses and can be celebrated with much fanfare. In Calcutta only, there are over ten thousand pandals (decorated tents) housing the goddess and her family members, are created to commemorate Durga Pooja and a competition can be held to guage the best out of the lot. The most creatively designed pandal can be declared to be the champion and this draws an enormous crowd to the venue to get a glimpse of the piece of art.
The artisans who make the idols of the goddess and her entourage are well respected craftsmen who specifically come in from the villages to create a superior artwork with their specialized knowledge. It is indeed disheartening to see this sort of creativity literally going down the water at the end of the festival when the goddess is usually immersed in the holy waters but its all section of the ritual. Durga Pooja is like a carnival time and even the non Hindus get engulfed in the vacation spirit. In fact once the Durga Pooja starts it is just like a chain of festivals taking place one after the other right upto ending the year with Christmas and heralding the brand new Year.
Durga Pooja sees a mad scramble at purchasing places for new clothing and add-ons and sweets and gifts for the entire family and good friends. It a time when the rich culture of Bengal finds an increased platform and is taken to the forefront through a host of cultural programs during the entire five days of the festival. A common stating for the Bengali community promises to have thirteen festivals in the a year of a year. However there is absolutely no doubt about the actual fact that out of all the festivals the Durga Pooja remains the biggest and the main and close to heart festival of all Bengali Hindus across the globe.