The festival of Durga Puja starts with Mahalaya in the first phase of the waxing moon in Aswin. Thousands offer prayers to their ancestors at the city's river banks, a ritual called Tarpan. The inauguration of the Goddess idol starts on Mahashasthi.
The main puja is done for three days - Mahasaptami, Mahaastami, Mahanavami. Three days of Mantras and Shlokas and Arati and offerings are accomplished by an expert priest.
On this day Goddess Durga arrives to the mortal world from her heavenly abode, accompanied by her children. She is welcomed with much fanfare amidst the beats of dhak. The main ritual on this day is unveiling of the idol.
Saptami is the first day of Durga puja. Kola Bow or Nabapatrika is given a pre-dawn bath. This is an ancient ritual of worshiping nine types of plants. They are together worshiped as a symbol of the goddess. The main Saptami Puja follows Kalparambho and Mahasnan.
This day begins with a recital of Sanskrit hymns in community puja pandals while thousands of devotees offer anjali to the goddess. Kumari Puja or the worship of little girls as the mother goddess is a special part of the rituals. Sandhi Puja, which marks the inter-linking of the Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami is also performed in the later part of the day.
This is the concluding day of Durga Puja. The main Navami puja begins after the end of Sandhi Puja. The Navami Bhog is offered to the goddess and then distributed amongst devotees.
On Dashami , the last day of the festival, a tearful farewell is offered to the Goddess. Most of the community pujas postpone the farewell as long as possible and arrange a grand send-off. The images are carried in processions around the locality and then immersed in a nearby river or lake.
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