The picture above is one that I took in Mumbai. I was there on Thursday, which happened to be the sixth day (“Soshti” in Bengali) of the puja. I went to the puja in Kalyani Nagar in Pune on the eight day (“Oshtumi”) for pushpanjali. I went with Farial, Dipankar and their sons Aabir and Ayan. (See the pictures of the Mumbai pandal and Pune pandal.)
Here’s a bit from the wikipedia entry on “Durga Puja“:
The worship of Durga in the autumn (শরৎ Shôrot) is the year’s largest Hindu festival of Bengal. Durga Puja is also celebrated in Nepal and Bhutan according to local traditions and variations. Puja means “worship,” and Durga’s Puja is celebrated from the sixth to tenth day of the waxing moon in the month of Ashwin (Bengali: আশ্বিন Ashshin), which is the sixth month in the Bengali calendar. Occasionally however, due to shifts in the lunar cycle relative to the solar months, it may also be held in the following month, Kartika (Bengali: কার্তিক Kartik). In the Gregorian calendar, these dates correspond to the months of September and October.
In the Krittibas Ramayana, Rama invokes the goddess Durga in his battle against Ravana. Although she was traditionally worshipped in the spring, due to contingencies of battle, Rama had to invoke her in the autumn akaal bodhan. Today it is this Rama’s date for the puja that has gained ascendancy, although the spring puja, known as Basanti Puja [One of the oldest 'sabeki' Basanti Puja is held every year at spring in Barddhaman Pal Bari], is also present in the Hindu almanac. Since the season of the puja is Bengali: শরৎ Shôrot, autumn, it is also known as Bengali: শরদিয়া Shôrodia.
The pujas are held over a ten-day period, which is traditionally viewed as the coming of the married daughter, Durga, to her father, Himalaya’s home. It is the most important festival in Bengal, and Bengalis celebrate with new clothes and other gifts, which are worn on the evenings when the family goes out to see the ‘pandals’ (temporary structures set up to venerate the goddess). Although it is a Hindu festival, religion takes a back seat on these five days: Durga Puja in Bengal is a carnival, where people from all backgrounds, regardless of their religious beliefs, participate and enjoy themselves to the hilt.
A small nit pick with the quoted text above. I was told that Durga comes to her maternal home during this puja. That sounds much better than saying that she’s visiting her father’s home, even though in effect they amount to the same thing.
Have a great Bijoya.