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West Bengal celebrates Mahanavami, Fourth day of Durga Puja with community Feasts

As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga killed Chando and Mundo- two asuras (demons) at the confluence (Sandhi) of Mahaashtami and Mahanavami

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Durga Puja, Wikimedia

Kolkata, October 10, 2016: Reflecting the festival spirit of sharing and bonding, people from all walks of life including celebrities relished community feasts at marquees and visited friends and relatives on Monday celebrating Mahanavami — the fourth day of Durga Puja in West Bengal.

Men — nattily dressed in the festive attire of kurta and pyjama with women resplendent in bright sarees — greeted friends, relatives and other acquaintances, clicked selfies, and idled away their time with banter and fun, relishing the infectious carnival spirit, here.

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At the marquees and the households worshipping the goddess, people partook bhog (community feast of food items offered to the Goddess first), comprising a varied spread from luchis (deep fried puffed bread) to khichuri, vegetable items, to fish and even mutton.

Famed actress Rituparna Sengupta was also seen taking part in the festivities with friends.

Meanwhile, the religious rituals of Mahanavami or ninth lunar day began after the end of Sandhi Puja held at the confluence of Mahaashtami (eighth lunar day) and Mahanavami on late on Sunday night.

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As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga killed Chando and Mundo — two asuras (demons) at the confluence (Sandhi) of Mahaashtami and Mahanavami. The Goddess was worshipped as the undefeated – and offered her favourite food items.

This was followed by Maha Arati. In many of the traditional households celebrating the festival, yagna (rituals done before the sacred fire) was organised before the morning puja rituals came to an end.

The five-day carnival is the biggest annual event in this part of the world when even newspaper offices shut down and roads are choked with human traffic throughout the day and night.

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According to Bengali tradition, Durga Puja begins with the symbolic arrival of Goddess Durga on Earth along with her sons Kartik and Ganesha and daughters Saraswati and Laxmi on Sashti and ends on Dashami, which is celebrated across the country as Dussehra.

Traditionally, idols of Goddess Durga depict her as slaying the demon Mahishasur. She is shown astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her 10 arms. (IANS)

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Diwali 2017: 5 Fun things You can do this Diwali Instead of Bursting Crackers

How to celebrate Cracker -free Diwali? Here are 5 wonderful ways to make your Diwali joyful this year.

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Diwali 2017
Diwali 2017: Celebrate Cracker-free Diwali this year.
  • No crackers this Diwali? No problem.There are other ways to celebrate Diwali 2017 with the same excitement and joy.
  • The ban on crackers this year has given us a chance to celebrate Diwali 2017 in many other interesting ways with Family and friends.

There can so So much more than bursting crackers on Diwali. Here are 5 ways to enjoy Cracker-free Diwali 2017 

1.Prepare a Diwali Feast: Preparing Delicious Diwali Dishes and Sweets can be a good idea to enjoy Diwali this year. Show off your cooking skills and treat your family with mouthwatering food. Good food can add joy to any celebration, it is tried and tested formula to enjoy and bring smiles on the face of family and friends.

Phirni Diwali Dishes
Preparing Delicious and Sweets can be a good idea to enjoy Diwali this year. Wikimedia

2. Go Green: Some gardening skills can add to your joy this Diwali. Plant a sapling in your home and instead of giving any other gifts to your loved ones, gift a plant to them. This will not only add to the uniqueness of the gift but will encourage a pollution-free Diwali this year.

Also Read: Diwali 2017: Significance of the Diwali, Celebrations & Rituals, Date & Diwali Recipes

3. Try out the old tradition of Playing Cards on Diwali 2017: Playing Taash (cards) can be fun this Diwali with family and friends.Teen Patti is the most popular card game played on the festival of Diwali. You can also play monopoly if you are not sure of winning with cards.

4.Karaoke or Dance Party: Music is the best way to enjoy on every occasion. You can play Antakshari with your family or can throw a dance party on Diwali 2017. A karaoke night this Diwali can add your joy for sure.

5.Spread Happiness: Instead of spending money on crackers, help the underprivileged children in your neighborhood by buying them new clothes, sweets and Diyas. This year control pollution and spread happiness to truly enjoy the festival of lights.

-prepared by Pragya Mittal |Twitter @PragyaMittal05

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.

 

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10 Customs of the Hindu Dharma Explained by Science

Have you ever wondered the rationale behind the customs and traditions of the Hindu dharma?

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Hindu dharma
A deeper look into the practices of Hindu dharma reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge. We tell you how! Pixabay

New Delhi, October 4, 2017 : You might have been moved by the way followers of the Hindu dharma bow down and welcome you inside their homes. Or by the way Hindu women dress, with jewellery adorning their hands and legs. Who doesn’t like the crinkling of their bangles, after all? But have you ever wondered the rationale behind their customs and traditions?

According to popular notions, the traditions and practices of the Hindu dharma have been equated with superstitions. However, a deeper look into the practices reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge and have been observed over generations , keeping in mind a more holistic approach.

Hinduism can hence, be called a dharmic scientific religion rather than just scientific religion. We prove you how!

 1. Worshiping the Peepal tree

Hindu dharma entails a myriad gods and goddesses and there exist a variety of reasons that propagate worship of Peepal tree. According to Brahma Purana, demons Ashvattha and Peepala hid inside and lured people to touch the Peepal tree and consecutively killed them. They were killed by lord Shani and hence the tree has been worshiped ever since. Another legend believed Goddess Lakshmi resides under the Peepal tree every Saturday which lends it a divinely touch. Another school of thought believes lord Hanuman sat on top of the Peepal tree in Lanka to witness the hardships faced by Sita.

Hindu dharma
Leaves of the ‘holy’ Peepal tree. Pixabay

The Peepal tree does not have a succulent fruit, lacks strong wood and does no good other than provide shade. However, it continues to enjoy increasing devotion from people practicing the Hindu dharma. Science confirms that Peepal is the only tree which produces oxygen even during the night. Hence, in order to preserve this unique property, ancestors of the Hindu dharma related it to God. Additionally, the tree is of utmost significance in Ayurveda and its bark and leaves are used to treat diseases and illnesses.

 2. Do not chew leaves of Tulsi plant

The Tulsi plant is revered in the Hindu dharma. Apart from its medicinal qualities, the plant is also known for its symbolic presence in Hindu mythology.

According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Hence, biting and chewing it is considered disrespectful.

Hindu dharma
According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Pixabay

However, according to botanists, Tulsi has high quantities of mercury. If raw mercury comes in contact with teeth (calcium), it can possibly result in inundation, making the teeth fall. Hence, leaves of the Tulsi plant are suggested to be swallowed and not chewed.

 3. Applying tilak on your forehead

Application of tilak is a religious ac. According to the Hindu dharma, the forehead signifies spirituality. Hence, application of a tilak on the forehead denotes an individual’s thoughts and conviction towards spirituality.  Various Vedic scriptures and Upanishads maintain that energy, potency and divinity comes to those who apply a tilak.

Hindu dharma
A flute player from India with a tilak on his forehead. Wikimedia Commons.

However, science asserts that during the application of a tilak, the central point in the forehead and the Adnya-chakra automatically pressed which encourages blood supply to the facial muscles.  According to body anatomy, a major nerve point is located in the middle of the eye brows on the forehead. Application of the red tilak is believed to maintain vitality in the body and prevent the loss of energy. The Tilak is also believed to control and enhance concentration.

 4. Obsessive cleaning during Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights honors the goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth. The festival also commemorates the return of lord Ram after an exile of 14 years to his kingdom in Ayodhya. According to Hindu mythology, the night of his return was a new moon night. To illuminate his path in the pitch dark night, the villagers of Ayodhya cleaned the entire village and lit it with lamps.

Hence, Diwali is preceded by extensive cleaning of the entire house in honor of both the deities of Hindu mythology. Legend also believed goddess Lakshmi comes home on Diwali and thereby, the entire place should be cleaned and decorated to welcome the goddess.

However, science backs the concept and explains that Diwali essentially falls in October and November, and mark beginning of winters and end of monsoon season.

Hindu dharma
People indulge in cleaning, repari and beautification of their homes ahead of Diwali to welcome goddess Lakshmi. Pixabay

In older times, the monsoons were not a good period as they were characteristic of excessive rains that often resulted in floods and damaged homes, which then needed repair. This is why people indulged in repair, cleaning and beautification of their homes.

 5. Folding your hands for ‘Namaskar’

You will often find people practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. The ‘Namaskar’ is believed to signify respect for people.

Hindu dharma
People practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. Pixabay

This pose requires an individual to join all finger tips together that carry the pressure points of ears, eyes and mind. Science says pressing them together activates these pressure points, making our mind attentive.  This aids us to remember people for a longer duration.

The Namaskar can also be backed up by an act to maintain hygiene and cleanliness since it does not involve any physical contact.

 6. Wearing toe rings

Traditionally, toe rings are worn by married woman on the second toe and are treated as a sign of holy matrimony. However, they are believed to be a part of the Indian culture since the times of Ramayana when Sita threw her toe ring for her husband lord Ram, upon being abducted by Ravana.

Science says that a nerve on this toe connect the uterus to the heart.  Wearing a ring on this finger helps regulate blood flow, thereby, strengthening the uterus and regulating menstrual cycle. It is also believed to have an erotic effect.

 7. Applying henna on hands and feet

Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. According to popular beliefs, the color of the henna denotes the affection a girl will enjoy from her husband and mother-in-law.

Hindu dharma
Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. Pixabay

However, science provides rationale of applying henna during the stressful times of festivals and weddings. Festivity stress can bring fevers and migraines, which when mixed with excitement and nervous anticipation can prove to be harmful for an individual.

Thus, besides lending color, henna also possesses medicinal qualities that relieve stress and keeps the hands and feet cool thereby shielding the nerves from getting tense.

 8. Fasting during Navratri

There are four major Navratris throughout the year, however only two are celebrated on a grand scale. Throughout the nine day festival, devotees observe ritualistic fasts, perform several pujas and offer bhog (holy food) to Goddess Durga in an attempt to gratify her.

Hindu dharma
Durga, the Goddess of strength. Wikimedia

But according to science, these navratris are celebrated when the seasons are transitioning. As the seasons and the temperatures change, our eating habits also do.

Fasting during Navratri allows our bodies to adjust to the changing temperature. Individuals get a chance to detox their bodies by quitting excessive salt, sugar and oil. Additionally, Navratris allow them to meditate and gain positive energy. This helps them prepare for the upcoming change in seasons.

 9. Applying sindoor

In traditional Hindu societies, the Sindoor denotes a woman’s desire for their spouse’s longetivity. The red powder is believed to be the color of power, symbolizing the female energy of Parvati and Sati. The Hindu dharma holds a woman is ‘complete’ or ideal only when she wears Sindoor.

Hindu dharma
Sindoor a cultural identity of every Hindu women. Wikimedia

Science explains that sindoor is made out of Vermilion, which is the decontaminated and powdered type of cinnabar (mercury sulfide). Because of its characteristic properties, mercury is known to reduce anxiety, control blood pressure and also initiate sexual desire, the primary reason why married women are advised to wear the ‘holy’ red powder. This is also the reason why widows are prohibited from wearing sindoor.

10. Wearing bangles on wrists

Bangles have been worn in the Hindu dharma since times immemorial- goddesses are also pictured to adorn these beautiful rings in their wrists. Bangles are believed to enhance feminine grace and beauty. The Hindu dharma almost makes it mandatory for newly-wed brides and to-be brides to wear bangles as they are believed to symbolize the well-being of the husbands and the sons.

Hindu dharma
Bangles are believed to accentuate the beauty of the Indian woman. Pixabay

Science suggests the constant friction caused by wearing bangles in the wrists expands the blood flow level. Besides this, the energy passing through the external skin is once again returned to one’s own body due to the round-molded bangles which has no ends to pass the energy out.