Everyone celebrating the festival knows about the facts on Durga Puja. It is so common that no one questions it. Unknown to many, there are some surprising and less known facts. We bet you did not know all of these.
Everyone has heard of and seen Sholar saaj but what most people do not know is that this is derived from a plant that grows wild in paank or marshy waterlogged areas called as Shola Pith or Indian cork. The dried part is the ivory coloured material used in the decorations of Durga puja and other festivals. Indian cork is considered to be among the lightest woods in the world. Shola is found only in Eastern India and parts of Deccan, and that is why we find sholar kaaj commonly in the festivals and weddings of Bengalis and Oriyas.
The wood of this spongy plant is dried and pressed. It can be shaped into delicate and stunning idols and various pieces of art. It was the shola which was made into hats (pith helmets) and worn commonly by the British.
Interestingly, shola is very similar to thermocol but it far better as a product when it comes to malleability, texture, lustre and sponginess as well as it being an organic product. Anant Malakar is a shola artist who has won praises globally for his wonderful handicrafts.
Daker Saaj started basically to show off one’s riches. Started by the Shobhabazar royal family, they wanted to impress the British visitors as well stand tall among the other Puja holders. Daker saaj incorporates the use of silver in the decorations in the form of foils, plates, ornaments etc. But the name is interestingly derived from dak that is, post office literally translating to ‘decoration of post office’. Actually these silver foils had to be imported from Germany and it arrived through post, hence the name.
Durga Puja for some royal families and zamindars in Bengal were a chance to show off their grandness and wealth through embellishments of the idols. Some even use gold ornaments like teep (bindi) and nose ring.
Durga did not kill Mahishasur
Another of the less known facts is this – if you go strictly with the scriptures, Durga did not kill Mahishasur. Although Devi Parvati confronted Mahishasur but she killed him in the Katyayani form. In another account of a battle with an equally repulsive demon called Durgasur, she slayed him as well and hence was called as the Durga. Katyayani, Durga and Parvati are all the forms of the same divine entity – the Adi shakti or the Divine Mother.
Kumari Puja and quantum science
Kumari puja or worship of the girls as divine, is a ritual followed in Ashtami. It is believed that on this day Maa Durga descends on earth and fills the plane with her energy. Unbelievably, it has been observed that during this period the unique placement and conjunction of the celestial planets and stars, an unknown form of cosmic ray is detected in space with the help of highly sophisticated infra-red and x-ray devices. Could this be what our ancestors have spoken of?
Jagannath Temple goes non-veg
The Jagannath temple is known for strictly vegetarian and traditional Vaishnava rituals. However on the time of Durga Puja, the Bimala temple in Puri receives bali, the ritual animal sacrifice. Most people do not realize that the Bimala temple in the Jagannath temple complex is a shaktipeeth and is considered as one of the most important ones. There is this rarest exception made and non vegetarian prasad is offered to Lord Jagannath and his siblings.
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