Durga Puja, one of the most significant festivals of Hinduism, celebrates the victory of goddess Durga over the demon king Mahishasura. Durga, (Sanskrit: Inaccessible) in Hinduism, is a principal form of the goddess and is also known as Devi or Shakti. The festival epitomises the victory of good over evil with the goddess as the motherly ascendancy behind all of life and creation. It is a celebration of multi-tasking goddess who resembles today’s women. The goddess has been celebrated from the 1500s by the landlords of Dinajpur and Malda districts of Bengal, India.
Durga Puja has fascinated everyone in Bengal from Bengali elites to Dutch traders and English merchants. The Zamindars had ivory Durga idol especially crafted to celebrate the grandeur of Durga puja to showcase to Dutch traders, along with celebrating Durga with Dutch Bengal School of paintings to the members of British Raj adoring the Kalighat paintings of goddess Durga.
Durga festival in Calcutta is the second biggest carnival in the world after Rio Carnival in Brazil. One can enjoy modern puja celebration by Ballygunge Cultural Association to the traditional Durga pujo celebration by Rani Rashmoni’s (famous philanthropist of 19th century ‘Calcutta’ who traded with East India Company) ancestors in North Kolkata.
Durga Puja is the time when people who haven’t spoken for years hug each other for a better tomorrow. On the other hand women apply vermilion to other women who they’d vilify any other day of the year. While the frugal businessman suddenly hands out Rs.2000 note to youngsters to go and buy some rasgullas with a smile.
Today, there are many organisations in Australia that host Durga Puja. The Bengali Association of NSW , Melbourne Bengali Association and The Bengali Society of Queensland have been hosting Durga Puja for decades with the fever of festivities spreading to Tasmania this year. In Sydney, Swagatam Puja Committee performs one of the finest Durga pujas.