Durga Puja ends with immersion of the goddess

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Dhaka, Oct 26: Durga Puja, the biggest religious festival of the Bengali Hindu community, ended on 26 October with the immersion of the idols of Goddess Durga.

Devotees bid adieu to Devi Durga by reciting mantras, making offerings to her and praying for her blessings.

Devi Durga’s formal immersion started at Bina Smriti Ghat in the capital’s Wiseghat at around 1:30 pm. On 22 October, Durga Puja began at 30,223 permanent and temporary puja mandaps across the country.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, puja mandaps were closed after sunset to avoid large gatherings. Cultural events and the Dhunuchi contest were not held.

Shubhashis Biswas Sadhan, organizing secretary of Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad, told The Business Standard that this year Durga Puja was celebrated at 233 puja mandaps in the capital, compared to 237 last year.

Kishore Ranjan Mandal, general secretary of Mohanagar Sarbojonin Puja Udjapon Committee, said, “We did not expect such a huge number of visitors at the mandaps this year. We prayed to our Devi to make the world free from Covid-19 soon.”

In light of the covid-19 pandemic, Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad termed the festival as only ‘Durga Puja’ this year to avoid traditional festival events.

Vijaya Dashami procession and Prasad distribution (a devotional offering made to a god, typically consisting of food that is later shared among devotees) were prohibited to maintain health guidelines.

Though the traditional festival events were not held across the country this year, the religious rituals of the puja were performed. A large number of devotees visited temples and mandaps.

This year, Devi Durga travelled to the earth in a palanquin (palki) and chose an elephant for her departure.

Devotees were preparing to welcome the goddess seven days prior to the Durgotsav by celebrating the Mahalaya. This marks the start of the ‘Devipaksha’ and the traditional six-day countdown to Mahasaptami.

Goddess Durga visits her father’s abode on Earth every year during the Bengali month of Ashwin. This year, however, Ashwin is considered as an evil month as per the Bengali calendar (panjika). Hence though Mahalaya started on 17 September, this year’s puja began on 22 October, during the month of Kartik.