Durga Puja is an annual Hindu Bengali festival also called Durgotsav. Durga Puja marks the battle of Goddess Maa Durga with the shape-shifting, deceptive and powerful buffalo demon Mahishasura, and her emerging victorious. Thus, the festival epitomises the victory of good over evil, but it also is in part a harvest festival that marks the Goddess as the motherly power behind all of life and creation.
The primary Goddess revered during Durga Puja is Maa Durga, along with Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth, prosperity), Saraswati (Goddess of knowledge and music), Ganesha (God of good beginnings) and Kartikeya (God of war).The Hindu God Shiva, as Maa Durga’s husband, is also revered during this festival.
The Durga Puja festival is a ten-day event, of which the last five mark the popular practices. The festival begins with Mahalaya, marking Maa Durga’s advent in her battle against evil. The next most significant day of Maa Durga Puja celebrations is the sixth day, called Shashthi where the local community welcome the Goddess and festive celebrations are inaugurated. On the seventh day (Saptami), eighth (Ashtami) and ninth (Navami), the Goddess along with Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya are revered and these days mark the main Puja (worship) with recitation of the scriptures, the legends of Maa Durga in Devi Mahatmya. The festival ends of the tenth day of Vijaya Dashami, as a form of goodbye and her return to divine cosmos and Mount Kailash.
In West Bengal Durga Puja is also called Akalbodhan (অকাল বোধন, “untimely awakening of Maa Durga”), Sharadiya Pujo (“autumnal worship”), Sharodotsab (Bengali: শারদোৎসব, (“festival of autumn”), Maha Pujo (“grand puja”), Maayer Pujo (“worship of the Mother”), Durga Pujo, or merely as Puja or Pujo.
Leeds Durgapuja & Diwali Association