Mahasasthi, the sixth day from the new moon, marks the beginning of the fascinating and impressive Bengali festival, Durga Puja. People of Bengal dance with the melodious tunes of Dhak, a musical instrument, to welcome devi Durga with her four children to the well decorated homes and pandals. The entire Bengal gets into the mood of celebration from the evening of Mahasasthi. Pandals get crowded when well dressed men and women congregate on the pandal premise to celebrate the occasion. Renowned artists, celebrities and ministers are invited to various pandals to inaugurate the Durga Puja pandals.
The face of the deity is unveiled in the Mahasasthi evening. This interesting ritual is popularly known as the Bodhon of Devi Durga. Traditional and ethnic families of Bengal emphasize on Devi Bodhon as one the most important ceremonies of Durga Puja.
Lot of Puja authorities still are seen busy in giving their pandals a beautiful finishing touch. People are busy to decorate the throne and pandals. The crowd of the roads slowly starts moving towards the Puja pandals. The atmosphere changes with the tunes of dancing numbers and melodious music.
Mahasaptami, the very next day of Sasthi, is the prime day of the five days long fiesta when “pran pratistha” into the idol is done. “Pran pratistha” is completed soon after the bathing of the “Kola Bou” (A tender banana plant) is done. “Kola Bou” is generally wrapped with white colored saree which has a red border. The “Kola Bou” is used to carry out the rite of “Pran Pratistha” into the devi idol.
Bengalis believe that the “Kola Bou” is the wife of Lord Ganesha, the son of the deity Durga. So, “Kola Bou” resides beside Lord Ganesha.
A ghot or brass pot, filled with water of pond or river, is kept at the feet of Devi Durga and is worshipped as a feet of the devi.
Mahashtami, the eighth day from the new moon, the most important day of the five days, is the day when “Kola Bou” is worshipped. “Chandi Path”, Kumari Puja and Aarati attract local people to their adjoining puja pandals. This was the auspicious day when Devi Durga killed Mahisasura, the demon. The ceremony of Mahashtami continues from the early morning till the late night.
The evening of Mahasthami is the time when roads and pandals witness huge numbers of people. Traffic police works really hard to control the traffic. A number of people hire their own vehicles to see idols of different corners of the city of Kolkata.
The most important part of Mahasthami puja, is Sandhi puja which takes place in the juncture of Mahasthami and Mahanabami.
This is the last day of the goddess in her paternal house. Hindus believe that Devi will go back to Kailasa after Mahanavami and she will again come back after one long year. This is a day when everyone feels bad thinking that after few hours the deity will be immersed. Bengali mothers treat devi Durga as their own daughters. Mothers feel the pain when their daughters go to the house of their father in laws.
On the day of Mahadashami Devi Durga start her journey towards her abode in Kailasa. Before the devi starts her journey towards Kailasa with her four children, married women flock to the pandals to apply sindoor on the forehead of Devi and ask devi to return back again to her paternal house next year. Married women greet the deity with sweets. In the evening Devi durga is immersed in the River.
Mahadashami marks the end of the five days long carnival.