Payer (puja) plate
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WEST BENGAL

West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India.The capital of the state is Kolkata. Neighbouring regions are Nepal to the northwest, Sikkim and Bhutan to the north, Assam to the northeast, Bangladesh to the east, the Bay of Bengal to the south, Orissa to the southwest and Jharkhand and Bihar to the west.(Wikipedia)

Festivals of West Bengal

Jagaddhatri festival in West Bengal

JAGADDHATRI FESTIVAL

Time: October-November

Duration: One Day

Location: West Bengal

Description:

This festival is a Hindu religious festival, celebrating Jagaddhatri, a reincarnation of the goddess Durga. In this form, the goddess appears with two pairs of arms. She wears clothes of red ochre and is adorned with various ornaments as well as a sacred thread entwined round her throat. In her two left hands she holds a conch and a bow and in her two right hands a chakra (circular rotating weapon) and panchavana (five-headed arrow). Her mount is a lion. Jagddhatri is mentioned in Mayatantra, Vrihaspati Raymukut's Smrtiratnahar (15th to 16th century), Krishnananda's Tantrasar, (16th century) and Srinath Acharyachuramani's Krtyatattvarnav. Puja is offered to Jagaddhatri on the ninth day of the moonlit fortnight in Kartik (October-November). Priests recite passages from Chandi, a text sacred to Durga. The image of the goddess is immersed as in durga puja.

Gangasagar Festival in West Bengal

GANGASAGAR MELA

Time: January

Duration: Three Days

Location: Calcutta, West Bengal

Description:

Gangasagar Mela is the largest fair celebrated in West Bengal during the month of January for three days. This fair is held where the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal form a nexus. Hence the name Gangasagar Mela. Sagar Island, at the mouth of the river Hooghly in Bengal (accessed from Diamond Harbor), where the Ganga breaks up into hundreds of streams, and drains into the sea, is honored as a pilgrimage site.

A dip in the ocean, where the Ganga drains into the sea is considered to be of great religious significance particularly on the Makara Sankranti day when the sun makes a transition to Capricorn from Sagittarius and this town becomes home to vast fairs, drawing visitors and recluses from all over the state. There is a common belief among the locals that the girls who take the holy dip get handsome grooms and the boys get beautiful brides. When they are done with the ritual obligations, they head towards the Kapilmuni Temple situated nearby, to worship the deity as a mark of respect.

Vishnupur festival in West Bengal

VISHNUPUR FESTIVAL

Time: December

Duration: Three Days

Location:

Description:

In the temple town of Vishnupur a festival is organised every year in December. Characterized by exhibition and sale of local handicrafts and performance of the rich musical tradition that Vishnupur boasts, this is an immensely popular festival. The festival celebrates the rich heritage of the town of Vishnupur, noted for its beautiful terracotta temples and elegant silk sarees.  

Durga Puja in West Bengal

DURGA PUJA

Time: October-November

Duration: Nine Days

Location: Calcutta, West Bengal

Description:

During Durga Puja, God in the form of the Divine Mother is worshiped in her various forms as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. On the first three nights of the festival, Durga is worshiped. On the following three, Lakshmi and then Saraswati Devi on the last three nights. The following tenth day is called Vijayadasami. Vijaya means "victory", the victory over one's own minds that can come only when these three: Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati are worshiped.Today's most authentic form of the Durga is that of a ten handed goddess modeled out of clay astride a lion. Each of those hands carry a separate weapon in them except two, which holds the spear which has been struck into the chest of the demon, Mahishasura. The four children of the Goddess had also been added to the iconography - Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, Kartik, the God of beauty as well as warfare and Ganesha, the 'Siddhidata' or the starter of everything in good sense.

The drum-beats are an integral part of the Durga Puja. This special variety of the drum, known as 'Dhak,' enthralls the hearts of the Calcutta with its majestic rhythm right from the day of 'Sasthi.' The Durga Puja spans over a period of ten days in case of traditional and household Pujas, though the main part of it is restricted to four days only. The main Puja, however, starts on the evening of 'Sasthi', the sixth day after the new moon. In the wee hours of 'Saptami',(seventh Day), the life of the Devi is brought from a nearby pond or river in a banana tree and established inside the image. The main puja starts thereafter and the prime time is reached in the 'Sandhikshan,' the crossover time between Ashtami(eighth day)and Navami(ninth day). Finally, on 'Dashami,' the tenth day from the new moon, the image is immersed in a pond or river.