Durga Puja, the biggest festival in eastern India and perhaps the entire country, is a 10-day long affair, but the festivities are at its peak during the last four days. During this festival, every day has a specific significance. And in Bengal (and amongst Bengalis), Saptami to Navami is full of fun, frolic, and food!. It is what they call as ‘peak Durga Puja’. So, keeping all that in mind, we bring you this list of most happening puja days starting from the fourth day onwards i.e. Saptami.
Dhunachi dance or the ritualistic dance carrying the dhunachi (incense burner mostly made of earthenware) is quintessentially Bengali and one of the most recognizable symbols of Durga Puja.
The colors, crowd, and exciting cacophony commence from Shasti (6th day) evening but the maddening dhak beats intensify during Saptami. Although Shasti marks the inauguration and unveiling of the community-organized Puja pandals but Saptami is when pandal hopping begins in full swing.
When do you celebrate Durga Puja this year??
This year, Mahalaya falls on 15th September 2020. It is believed that on Mahalaya, Durga descends to Earth. So naturally, Shashti, the day everyone welcomes Goddess Durga and festivals are inaugurated, falls on the 21st of October 2020. Saptami to Dashami is from 22nd-16th October 2020.
What are the days of Durga Puja and why are they special?
Saptami- Navpatrika or Kolabou Puja and Saptami or Kalaratri Puja (midnight puja of Goddess Durga)
On the Saptami morning, the Goddess is invoked within the bundle of 9 plants or Navpatrika. These nine plants (signifying the nine aspects of the mother goddesses) are tied to the banana plant also called Kolabou, often referred to as Lord Ganesh’s wife. The Navpatrika is then placed beside Goddess Durga’s idol for the entire duration of Durga Puja. This ritual generally occurs in the early hours of the morning.
Ashtami- The eight-day of Durga Puja is considered to the most important day, from a ritualistic angle. On this day, Ashta Nayikas (Eight Shaktis or Power) and Goddess Durga’s weapons are worshipped. It is also believed that on this day Goddess Chamunda (a form of Durga) appeared and destroyed three different associates of Mahishasura (Chanda, Munda, and Rakhthabija). Pushpanjali (worshipping with a handful of flowers) is considered to be an important part of the ritual!
Nabami- Mahanavami is the 9th day of Durga Puja. It is believed that the epic battle of good vs evil lasted for nine days, and the 9th day saw Durga vanquishing Mahishasura through her power and wisdom.
Dashami- Vijay Dashami or the tenth day is celebrated throughout the country in different ways. However, in Bengal it is a sad day for most as Goddess Durga goes back to Mount Kailash, and most Durga statues are immersed in Ganga. Sweets and hugs are common on this day, and everyone goes back to their regular life, and wait anxiously for the next year.
Dress to impress
Before nose-diving into the cultural aspect of Durga Puja, keep it light and breezy on Saptami. Recommended dress code for guys: Kurta and Jeans.
Same goes with women’s wear, an ornate and elaborate salwar will do just fine. Pair it with the appropriate earnings and head ornaments such as maang tikka. Don’t forget to buy ethnic wear without burning a hole in your wallet with offers from TataCLiQ, Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, etc!
For the love of food
Bengali folks and food is a love story for the ages. As such, the fascination with food is at an all-time high during Durga Puja. The Bhuri Bhoj is a foodie’s delight. During these 4 days, you will rarely find people staying home and eating in and saying, “Nay ’tis the season of spendthrifting”.
Oh! And before we unveil the list of must-try eats if you are vegetarian don’t worry, you will have a plenty of options to choose from since most households have a strict veg food policy till Dashami.
This Saptami you might want to indulge in:
Luchi and Aloor Dom
This Durga puja, enjoy this simple yet filling and not to mention yummy breakfast dish. Appropriately spiced aloo dum with lighter than muslin luchi is the perfect morning breakfast!
Jhir Jhire Aloo Bhaja
French fries? You’ll forget all about it once you try this Bengali style Julienne potato fry! Best enjoyed with steamed rice and shukto (or dal).
There are two types of people in this world: Those who love illish (Hilsa) and those who haven’t tried it yet. The Bengali people will swear by all that is holy, that the shorshe illish (Hilsa cooked in mustard sauce) is heaven on earth and quite rightly so.
Note: First-timers, beware! The tiny bones of illish can be a pain in the neck but it is all worth it. Although restaurants do offer boneless variations but ain’t nothing like the real deal.
Moving on to the snacks, this particular delight is readily available at roadside vendors, and finds a place among many prestigious erudite meets and greets. There’s nothing much to it- dim’er chop is essentially boiled egg in a batter that is deep fried. Makes for a great tea-time snack.
This quite unusual snack is a delicacy among Bengali household snacks. Mocha is the flower of the banana plant. Mocha’r chop as the name suggests is made by cooking the banana flower before rolling it into balls made of dough and deep-frying them. Best enjoyed in the company of friends, family and piping hot cup of tea. Condiments used can be kasundi (mustard sauce) and ketchup.
Kola’r Bora or Banana Fritters
The love affair with banana doesn’t end with Mocha’r chop, rather it extends to kola’r bora or fritters made out of bananas. Served best with tea!
Need fashion and accessory suggestions for Ashtami, Nabami, and Dashami? Check out more of our articles for tips on ethnic wear and websites that house them!
Are you a certified Durga Puja addict? Got anything more to add? Let us know in the comments section below!