Grand and colourfully illuminated puja pandals with dazzling lights, gigantic gates and huge tableaux is how the city is adorned during the Durga Puja festival in the month of September-October. Thousands flock to catch a glimpse of the thematically designed puja pandals. The city witnesses 20 huge puja pandals and hundreds of smaller ones during the Durga Puja.
Durga Puja or Dussehra as it is called is a celebration of good over evil. According to mythology a demon Mahisashura who was granted a boon by Lord Shiva became invincible. He created havoc wherever he went. Leaving the gods with no option but to seek Lord Shiva's help.
Since Mahisashura could not be killed by a man, Lord Shiva asked his wife Goddess Parvati to assume the role Goddess Durga and wage battle with Mahisashura. Goddess Durga was bestowed upon with phenomenal powers of all the lords .With lion as her mount, Goddess Durga or Maa Durga as she is called waged a gruesome war with Mahisashura and killed him on the day of "Vijaya Dashami".
According to Ramayana, Lord Rama sought Goddess Durga (or Shakti as she is also called) blessings to kill demon king Ravana. On the occasion of "Vijaya Dashami", Lord Ram killed Ravana. People celebrate the occasion by burning huge effigies of Ravana filled with fire crackers. On this day the Dussehra or Durga Puja comes to an end.
The next day the idols of Maa Durga are taken out in procession and are immersed in the rivers or ponds of the locality. This signifies the end of her sojourn on earth and people bid her goodbye with a prayer to come back next year to cleanse the earth of all its evil.
Mythology apart , the puja has a huge social implication in this part of the world. It is a festival which brings families closer together and binds communities and fosters a feeling of harmony all across. Beginning from Saptami, a large number of people are seen gathering at different puja venues to pray to Maa Durga and take her blessings. Major mandaps depicting world-famous heritage sites along with illuminated trees and temporary structures on both sides of the main roads adds on to the celebratory spirit.
Almost all puja pandals host different cultural events, bhajan sandhyas, music & dance programs, play activities like merry go round to attract the crowd. City residents keep hopping from one pandal to another all through the evening & well past midnight to see and enjoy the puja decorations with family.