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The Legends of Shasthi and Ashtami during Durga Puja

The Durga Puja in Bengal is an iconic festivity and captured in it's many moods and facets by various artists, photographers, filmmakers, authors over time.

For many of us who remain fascinated by the stories and rituals, Jashaswi Ghose, corporate lawyer and history buff takes us on a journey down the stories and symbolism behind the 6th and 8th days of the Pujo. He shares some images of his family Puja as well as some from Sotheby archives. 

Here is his piece on the same -- Enjoyyyy !!! 

Maha Shasthi : Amantran 

MahaShasthi , the sixth day of the Navratri celebrations primarily involves the Bodhon, Amantran and Adhivas ceremonies. These ceremonies symbolise the welcoming of the goddess to her paternal home !

 

What I find unique in the Durga Pujo ceremonies in Bengal is that, it symbolises the homecoming of the goddess as a daughter to her paternal home and all the ceremonies which would be done for a daughter are done during Durga Pujo. 

The “Amantran and Adhivas” ceremonies are two unique ceremonies of Durga Pujo. During Amantran  and Adhivas the goddess is welcomed to earth and the ceremony takes place next to a bel tree. This tree symbolises Lord Shiva who according to folklore comes from Kailash to leave his wife and children to her paternal home. However, he does not enter her paternal house (as Giriraj or Himalaya does not consider Shiva to be an appropriate husband for his daughter).

So the divine couple spend the night below the bel tree and on MahaSaptami morning once the Navapatrika (or nine types of plants representing Mother Nature) comes from her ritualistic Ganges bath - the goddess and her children enter her paternal home where she spends the next three days before returning to Shiva on Vijaya Dashami !

I find these ceremonies and traditions to be a beautiful reminiscent of our strong oral folklore  tradition ! I hope these stories are known and get passed down over generations. 

 

MahaAsthami : Sandhi Pujo

MahaAsthami or the 8th day of the Navratri celebrations has several important ceremonies - the most important of which is “Sandhi Pujo”. .As the name suggests, this ritual takes place at the “Sandikhan” or a time period which encompasses the last 24 minutes of MahaAsthami and first 24 minutes of MahaNavami.

These 48 minutes are the most auspicious period of the Pujo - it attains it’s importance owing to several Indian mythological stories/ folklores.

According to the puranic references of the Devi, it is during Sandhi Pujo that Adi Shakti/ Ambika had asked her incarnation goddess Kali to decimate the demons Chanda and Munda. When Kali decimated Chanda and Munda - Ambika rejoiced by bestowing the name Chamunda to goddess Kali ! The demon Raktabij was also killed by Chamunda during Sandhi Pujo.

.According to another folklore - Lord Rama had worshipped Adi Shakti to seek her blessings to over throw Ravana. It is during this Sandhi Puja that Rama had offered 108 lotuses to the goddess and worshipped her - a tradition that is still followed today! Even today during Sandhi Puja 108 lamps are lit and 108 lotuses are offered to the goddess just as Lord Rama had done.

This beautiful mixture of tales, folklore and traditions in Indian culture and religion continues to enamour me !.Seen above is goddess Chamunda (Courtesy: Sotheby’s) and glimpses of the family festivities.

 You can shop the famous Kalighat paintings depicting Kali and Ganga from our collection "Khazana" 

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