The excitement is touching the sky...Durga Puja is here! Everyone has been waiting for these five days of festivities with great fervour. Devotees are busy with the preparations in full swing. But many of us are unaware of the history associated with Durgotsava. As you immerse yourself in the celebrations, get wowed by these lesser known facts about the grand festival.
You’ll be surprised to know that the history of Durga Puja can be dated back to the 14th Century! There are manuscripts from those times that provide guidelines for the Puja.
Durga Puja was supposedly initiated by the zamindars of Dinajpur and Malda in the late 1500s. According to ancient records, the royalty used to sponsor major public festivities around the Puja.
The tradition of community or sarbojanin Puja began only in 1790. It happened when 12 friends in Hooghly asked the locals to contribute funds. And, since then Durga Puja has become a socio-cultural event.
When a sculptor creates the idol of the goddess, he paints the eyes in the end. This ritual is known as Chokku Daan and is performed in complete darkness. Apparently, this indicates the beginning of Maa Durga’s journey into the mortal world.
The idol of Durga and other deities is decorated with daaker saaj. This refers to creating adornments from beaten silver foil. Earlier, the silver used to come from Germany through daak (post), hence the term ‘daaker’.
The practice of daaker saaj came to a halt as there was no mail allowed around World War II. And thus, sholar kaaj (sholapith craft) picked up as a trend. This refers to creating accessories for Durga Maa using shola – a milky white spongy substance. It is derived from the pith of a plant (Indian cork) that grows in marshy areas.