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Bengal plunges into festive spirit on occasion of ‘Mahasaptami’

Kolkata, Oct 5 (UNI) The city plunged into the festive spirit on the occasion of ‘Mahasaptami’ today which marked the beginning of the four-day Durga Puja, the biggest festival in West Bengal.    Puja organisers began the day early, taking out banana plantains (symbolising the wife of Ganesha) for a ritual bath at the nearest water bodies, as priests made arrangements for the day’s worship of the Goddess and her celestial family.The ritual is called ‘Nabapatrika snan-o-sthapan’ and many believe this practice is traced to the agrarian society of east India. The Nabapatrika (new leaves) consists of nine banana leaves.

The ‘Kola Bou’, a tender banana plant symbolising a bride, was given a river bath amidst drum beats, wrapped in a sari and placed next to the idol of Ganesha. Through ‘pran pratistha’, the spirit of Durga as a warrior goddess is awakened, and She starts Her battle against the manifestation of all evils in the shape of Mahishasura -the buffalo demon.

After morning rituals, worshippers offered ‘pushpanjali’ (floral libations) to the Goddess amid chanting of mantras later in the day. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee greeted to all on the occasion.   “Greetings to all on the occasion of Maha Saptami,” Ms Banerjee posted on her social networking page.    The five-day autumn festivities, is the biggest annual event in this part of the world when even the newspapers shut down and roads are choked with human traffic throughout the day and night.

Though shamiana-hoppers prefer to visit pandals during the night to enjoy the illumination, a large number of revellers took advantage of the clear day to hang around the better-known community puja shamianas and feast their eyes on the decor.