Durga Puja, 1809 watercolour painting in Patna Style.
Goddess Durga, in one of the Pandals of Calcutta, now Kolkata.A considerable literature exists around Durga in the Bengali language and its early forms, including avnirnaya (11th century), Durgabhaktitarangini by Vidyapati (14th century), etc. Durga Puja was popular in Bengal in the medieval period, and records show that it was being held in the courts of Rajshahi (16th century) and Nadia district (18th century). It was during the 18th century, however, that the worship of Durga became popular among the landed aristrocacy of Bengal, the Zamindars. Prominent Pujas were conducted by the landed zamindars and jagirdars, being enriched by emerging British rule, including Raja Nabakrishna Deb, of Shobhabajar, who initiated an elaborate Puja at his residence. Many of these old puja exist to this day. Interestingly the oldest such Puja to be conducted at the same venue is located in Rameswarpur, Orissa, where it has been continuing for the last four centuries since the Ghosh Mahashays from Kotarang near Howrah migrated there as a part of Todarmal's contingent during Akbar's rule. Today, the culture of Durga Puja has shifted from the princely houses to Sarbojanin (literally, "involving all") forms. The first such puja was held at Guptipara - it was called barowari (baro meaning twelve and yar meaning friends)


The Story Behind Durga Puja
Navratri is a celebration of the victory of good over evil ,with several variations of the tradition all over India. Durga Puja specifically celebrates the victory of the goddess Durga over the bull demon Mahishasura. According to legend, Durga was summoned by the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, to defeat the demon, who had set out to conquer the world. To help her win the battle, each of the major Hindu gods gave Durga weapons and other objects to assist her. Durga went into battle mounted on a lion and on the tenth day of the battle, she finally killed the demon. Navratri commemorates the nine days and nights of the battle between good and evil, but Durga Puja is celebrated only on the last five days, when according to legend, Durga leaves her heavenly abode to visit earth each year. Durga Puja attracts many visitors from all over India as well as foreign tourists, but the festival is especially popular among the people of West Bengal. The festival is a special occasion for Bengali families to come together from all over the country and celebrate with their relatives and communities.

India is a land of holy places, holy rivers, and large religious festivals. Almost every aspect of life is infused with religious gestures, rites, and meaning. The importance of Hinduism as India’s most dominant religion extends far beyond the private sphere into the public realm. Every year hundreds of religious festivals and pilgrimages are celebrated all across this vast and diverse country, and being able to witness or participate in one or several of them is a great cultural or even spiritual experience for foreign visitors. Among India’s most colorful and lively festivals is Navratri (Festival of Nine Nights), and Durga Puja is one of the most popular versions of this festival celebrated in Eastern India, especially in the city of Kolkata (Calcutta) in the state of West Bengal. For five days each year, the city takes on a festive atmosphere and comes to a complete standstill, when temporary temples spring up all over the city to honor the Hindu goddess Durga. Hundreds of thousands of worshippers from Kolkata and all over India visit these temples to pay their tribute.