Basanti Puja / Ram Nabami
As the name suggests is observed in the season of Spring (Basant is the Hindi name of Spring). This puja is performed in the month of Chaitra in Bengali/Odiya calendar which corresponds to March-April of English calendar. Basanti Puja is an age old Bengali festival spread across parts of Bengal and northern Odisha confined to Balasore district when “Goddess Durga”is worshiped by Bengali as well as Odiya community in Kolkata and in other parts of India where Bengali families live in large numbers.
However, BASANTI DIRGA PUJA has lost its utmost importance since the time when Lord Rama is believed to have done untimely Durga Puja in Autumn – the famous “SHARADIYA DURGA PUJA”celebrated in the Months of Ashwin or Kartik (September-October) at the same time when “NAVRATRI” is celebrated in other parts of India.
Origin of Basanti Puja in Bengal
It is believed that King Surath performed the first ever Durga Puja in Spring after getting instructions from Sage Medha. The legend in Markanda Puran states that King Surath had lost his kingdom and wandered in the forests where he met Samadhi Vaishya who also had lost kingdom. In the jungle, they met Medha Muni who on request suggested them to perform Basanti Durga Puja to get back their lost kingdoms. King Surath and Samadhi Vaishya, thus, performed Basanti Puja and got back their kingdoms. This started the ritual of performing Basanti Durga in Basant season or Chaitra Month.
Difference Between Basanti Puja and Shardiya Durga Puja
The difference between the two Durga Pujas- Basanti Puja and Sharadiya Durga Puja- lie in their origin and time of celebration, rituals remain the same. Shardiya Puja is said to have first performed by Lord Rama in Autumn. At that time, Durga Puja was celebrated in Spring after being initiated by King Surath many years back. Lord Rama is believed to have performed ‘Akalbodhan’ (‘Akal’ means untimely and ‘Bodhan’= awakening) to seek Goddess Durga’s blessings for defeating RAVANA. Since then, due to popularity of “LORD RAMA” his devotees started celebrating Durga Puja in ‘Sharad’ or Autumn season. This relegated Basanti puja to near oblivion. Basanti Puja, however, is still performed in few Bengali households while observing all the ritual of Durga Puja.
Basanti Puja Rituals
The rituals of Basanti Puja are similar to those of Shardiya Durga Puja. The only difference is in the usage of ‘Ghat’ (‘घट’ or ঘট & Kalash- कलश, কলশ or earthern/metal pot) for ‘Bodhan’ (awakening Goddess Durga). The ‘Ghat’ is not used in Sashti puja because this puja is performed on time when it is meant to be done. ‘Akal Bodhan’ or ‘untimely awakening of Durga’ is done on Sashti during Shardiya Durga Puja.
Grand Durga Idols with the idols of Goddessess Saraswati and Lakshmi and idols of Gods Ganesha and Kartik are worshiped on Sashti, Saptami, Ashtami, and Navami. Kumari Puja is also done on Ashtami where little girls are given importance by worshipping them and by offering them a variety of foods, clothes, sweets etc. The Idols are then immersed in water on the day of Dashami. This is called ‘Bisarjan’- a ritual representing farewell to Goddess Durga and her family.
Just like Basanti Puja in East India, “Chaitra Navratri” is celebrated in North India for nine days beginning on the first day of Chaitra month and culminating on the ninth day- the “Ram Nabami” day!
I have compiled it from different sources in internet along with my Photography from a remote location at Saripur in Digha,West Bengal.
These Photographs are from a Family Puja of more than 70 years of heritage of Saripur performed since “late Jagabandhu Kar”and it is their family Festivity when all relatives including near and dear ones congregate to celebrate the occasion.
I dedicate this blog in the larger interest of the followers Hindu ideology