Durga Puja also is known as Durgotsava, is the annual celebration of the Hindu goddess Maa Durga. The festival commemorates the victory of the goddess over a demon called Mahishasura. As told by Hindu legend, the demon was set out to wage against the gods and it was up to Durga to slay him and project earth. She began her battle against the demon on the seventh day of Navaratri, known as Maha Saptami, and slew him by the final day of Vijay Dashami.ImageSource
Durga Puja held for 10 days in the month of Ashvina (the seventh month of the Hindu calendar). It begins on the same day as Navratri, a nine-night festival celebrating the divine feminine. It is particularly popular in the Indian states of West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Tripura, also in some regions of Bangladesh and Nepal.
Durga Puja’s first day is Mahalay, which is a signal of the advent of the goddess. Celebrations and worship begin on Sasthi, the sixth day. During the following three days, the goddess is worshipped in her various forms as Durga, Lakshmi, and Sarasvati. The celebration ends with Vijay Dashami, the tenth day of victory with amid loud chants and drumbeats, idols are carried in huge processions to local reviews, where they are immersed. This custom is symbolic of the departure of goddess Maa Durga to her home and her husband, Bhagwan Shiv, in the Himalayas.
In Hinduism, the goddess is characterized by her ten arms carrying various lethal weapons as well as her vehicle, the Lion, known as the ‘destroyer of evil’. Durga is the ‘Mother goddess’ and the ‘Protector of the Righteous’ to Hindu devotees.
Though the festival is considered to date back to ancient times in the Hindu religion, the first historic record of such a celebration of the goddess is available from the 1500s in West Bengal. However, the prominence of Durga Puja increased during the British raj in the provinces of Bengal and Assam.ImageSource
Today, the importance of Durga Puja is as much as a social and cultural festival as a religious one, wherever it is observed. The festival is celebrated with songs and dance, fasting followed by feasts, elaborate decorations, and puja or grand ceremonies at the temple and religious recitals.