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Monday, March 4, 2024

Basanti Puja- When The Goddess In Awakening (Jagroto)

Basanti Puja is observed in most of the places of Assam. Guwahati City of Assam is no exception.

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By: Ranjan Jyoti Sarma

Durga (Sanskrit: दुर्गा) is a major deity in Hinduism. She is worshipped as a principal aspect of the mother goddess Devi and is one of the most popular and widely revered among Indian divinities. She is associated with protection, strength, motherhood, destruction and wars. Her legend centres around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity, and Dharma the power of good over evil. Historians of religion and art tend to trace the earliest depiction of Durga – the primordial energy (Adya Sakti) integrated into the samsara (cycle of rebirths) concept and built on the foundation of the Vedic religion, mythology and philosophy evolved over time in the Indian subcontinent-to the seals of Indus Valley Civilization.

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The puja of Devi Durga is celebrated two times of a calendar year – one in Shôrot; Autumn and other in Bôshonto; Spring, but the puja performed during the spring is said to be the original. The legend in Markanda Puran states that first puja of Devi Durga is said to be initiated and performed by Suratha.

Suratha was an emperor of ancient Vanga Kingdom. He was also a proverbial person of Hindu lore. His capital was in Bolipura, now Bolpur. He was an extremely democratic emperor of the ancient Vanga Kingdom. He was a devotee of Devi Durga. According to the Markandeya Purana he preached the Devi Mahatmya (Sri Sri Chandi) in Marthya (earth) among the dweller of Marthya and also he was the first organizer of durga puja in Vanga (modern Bengal) and later this durga puja festival became popular in other parts of India.

King Surath lost his kingdom and all his property. Losing everything he left his capital Bolipur (currently Bolpur) to re-explore his fate. Later, he met with Vaishya Samadhi, who was a businessman. Coincidentally he also was bankrupt, as he was cheated with his family. Then, fortunately they met Sumedhas Muni. Sumedhas advised them to bring back their fate they must worship the Goddess Devi Durga.

King Surath and Boishyo (Vaisya) Samadhi worshipped Devi Durga as Durga Puja or Durgotsob at the ashram of Medhas Muni in the Garh Jungle of West Bengal. It was the first durga puja of world. In current days, the ghar jungle is in Durgapur, Purba Bardhaman, West Bengal. They worshipped Devi durga in spring time. So, this festival is called Basanti puja or “Basanto kalin durgotsob”. This started the ritual of performing Basanti Durga in Basant season or Chaitra Month. According to Sri Sri Chandi, they made this durga image clay in the Garh jungle. After puja Surath return back all his lost property and he came back to his capital Bolipur (now Bolpur). Surath enrooted durga puja in his capital Bolpur in spring. During this puja, he sacrifices lakhs of animal. From this Bengali term “boli” (animal sacrifice), this place called as “Bolipur” (currently Bolpur).

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The Durga Puja performed during Shôrot; Autumn is said to be performed by Ajodhya King RAM with a aim to kill the powerful Lankan King Ravana. As it is not the proper time of worship of Goddess Durga, so it is known as Akalbodhan (“untimely awakening of Durga”). The Durga Puja performed during Bôshonto; Spring is the real in the sense that in this time Devi is said to be in awakening state. The cusp of the ending of the eighth day and beginning of the ninth day is considered to be the moment when per scriptures Durga engaged in a fierce battle against Mahishasura and was attacked by the demons Chanda and Munda. Goddess Chamunda emerged from the third eye of Durga and killed Chanda and Munda at the cusp of Ashtami and Navami, the eighth and ninth days respectively. This moment is marked by the sandhi puja, involving the offering of 108 lotuses and lighting if 108 lamps. It is a forty-eight minutes long ritual commemorating the climax of battle. The rituals are performed in the last 24 minutes of Ashtami and the first 24 minutes of Navami. Ashokastami or Ashtami is one of the major occasions of this festival.

Assam, the gateway of the North-Eastern States, is known as a place of Sakti worship. Basanti Puja is observed in most of the places of Assam. Guwahati City of Assam is no exception. In Guwahati; one of the prominent Basanti puja is being organized by Sarbajanin Sri Sri Basanti Puja Utshab Uddjapon Samiti since the year 1987 starting on Chaitra Shukla Saptami and ends on Chaitra Shukla Navami i.e. Ram Navami or Dashami. The Samiti, presently under the able leadership of Secretary, Sri Nabin Chandra Sarma, performed puja with strict sakta rituals with a group of priests. The puja draws crowds of almost 600 devotees per day at minimum. It is in common belief that every wish of devotee is fufilled on praying in this Basanti puja. This year the Basanti Puja will be observed from 7th April.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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