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|Durga Pooja has a general connotation linking it to
Bengal. However, it is as much prevalent, if not more, in Mthilanchal.
Here it is also known as Dashmi and has a very special significance. Apart
from the worship of Idols installed in pandals, in the majority of houses,
pooja is celebrated at family level where special pooja is performed for
ten days. It will not be out of place to mention here that in Mithilanchal
most of the temples are that of Kali or Mahadev. People worship Parthiv
Mahadev (Lord Shiva) and recite Durga Saptasati for the alleviation of all
sort of troubles. Some even make these a daily habit. Hence in Dashmi it
attracts even greater significance.
On the Kalashsthapan (first) day, Jayanti (barley seeds) is sown on a sand platform of about one square foot. Durga Saptasati (700 slokas) is recited every day for nine days by male members. The smell of dhoop intermingled with smell of seasonal flowers - balsam, harsingar java and kaner create a sublime atmosphere.
In some cases the person performing pooja plants jayanti on his lap or chest, thus undergoing a penance for nine days (no food, drink and call of nature). Some others fast on all nine days, taking milk and fruits only once in night. Rest, who perform pooja, definitely do not take any thing till the pooja is over on each day. There is a conviction that fasting on eighth day brings prosperity. Families feed girls of tender age (Kumari Bhojan) and offer them clothes and coins with the belief that goddess is manifest in their innocence. Worshipping living goddess is more prevalent in Bengal and Nepal. New clothes are worn on Ashtami (eighth day). Ashtami is an auspisious day for getting initiated in Tantric Mantra.
Where idols are installed, they are worshiped for later 5 days of the ten day period. On the sixth day festivities start with Vilwavimantran. Saptami, Ashtami and Navami are days of main pooja. On these days goats are sacrificed. At places some sort of entertainment programs are arranged.
Tenth day is Vijaya Dashmi or Yatra (Journey) day. People end their pooja by cutting the Jayanti and offering them to gods. These are then distributed to be kept on head. Youngers bow in reverence to elders (Pranam). and elders may give some money to them or simply bless them. Some take a walk to temples, symbolizing journey.
Durga is considered daughter of the land, who has come to her Naihar(parents house) and goes back on Dashmi. Hence womenfolk give her Dhan, Durva, Supari and Haldi as Khoinchh, as given to daughters. Idols are immersed in nearby pond or river.