The greatest festival of the Hindus in West Bengal is Durga Puja. The goddess Durga is worshipped with pomp and splendour in this festival. People enjoy the festival in a happy mood.
The goddess Durga appears with ten arms in ten hands to kill Mahishashura, the evil force. She comes with her two daughters Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and Saraswati, the goddess of learning. They stand on the right and left sides respectively of the goddess Durga. Her two sons, Ganesh, the god of fortune and Kartik, the god of power also appear in the scene. The right foot of Devi Durga is on the lion and her left foot is on the demon. The demon has come out of a buffalo. Goddess Durga has pierced the demon with her spear.
The goddess Durga is worshipped for four days. In some places, goats and even buffaloes are sacrificed to the goddess. On the fourth day, the images are immersed in the water of a pond or a river. The worship takes place twice a year, once in Spring and the other in Autumn with more pomp and splendour. There are two mythical references of these two worships, King Suratha worshipped the goddess in Spring to get back his lost kingdom and Ramachandra performed this worship in Autumn to defeat Ravana, the king of Lanka, and to rescue his wife Sita. Thus this is a worship of Shakti, the goddess of power. Once this worship was performed by rich men in their families only. Later on, community worships or Baroari Puja in Autumn are more common in West Bengal. Now the Bengalees take this Puja as a most important cultural festival.
On this occasion of the great festival, courts and offices remain closed for four days and some schools and colleges are closed for a month in West Bengal. It brings a cheerful atmosphere everywhere. People put on new clothes and shoes. The joy of children knows no bounds. Those who live away from home come home at this time. They meet their friends and relatives at home. On this occasion, merchants get a good deal of business and sell their goods at a good profit. Thus in addition to its religious purpose, it bears a great social and economic importance. It brings a happy time for all.