The Durga Puja celebrations are on in its full swing. Right from Mahalaya that marks Goddess Durga’s stepping foot on the surface of earth to Navami (ninth day of celebrations), our excitement knows no bounds. It is only towards the end of Navami does it hit that Goddess Durga has to depart soon after, on Vijayadashami. This year Vijayadashami falls on 30th September 2017. The day of Vijayadashami holds immense significance for married women, who celebrate the occasion with ‘Sindur Khela’. Married women put on sindur or vermilion on Maa Durga's forehead and feet and thereafter they apply it on other married women present around them.
Significance of Sindur Khela
On the day of Vijayadashami, women smear sindur on each other. Since sindur is a sign of a married woman, by following this ritual, women wish for a blessed marital life for one another. The ritual of Sindur Khela started some 400-450 years back in West Bengal and parts of Bangladesh, where a handful of women would gather and bid their goodbyes to Maa Durga, Saraswati, Laxmi, Kartikey and Lord Ganesha as they make their way back to heaven. They would clad themselves in traditional Bengali saris and jewellery, offer the idols with sweet delicacies and play Sindur Khela. The tradition that kick-started in the eastern part of the country has now become an essential part of Vijayadashami rituals across the country celebrating Durga Puja.
It is believed that for these couple of days, Goddess Durga arrives to earth to her parents, and she is thus pampered with a variety of bhog and prasad. Thus, when she finally has to leave, women give her a grand farewell as any daughter going back to her husband’s place would receive. While applying sindur on Goddess Durga's feet and forehead they also pray to the her for their happy and long married lives.
Puja and Bhog Rituals of Sindur Khela
The rituals for this day begins with Maha Arati, where a shitala bhog is offered to the Goddess, which comprises Kochur Shaak, Panta Bhaat and Ilish Macher Bhaja. The priest then proceeds towards conducting the final Visarjan Puja.
The puja is followed by a fun ritual of Prasasthi Vandana. A mirror is placed right in front of the deity, and devotees then stare into the mirror trying to get a glimpse of Goddess Durga’s feet. Those who manage to catch a glimpse are said to have a prosperous future in the coming year.
Next comes the Devi Boron, where married women form queues to bid their final goodbye to the Goddess personally. Their Boron thali contains betel leaves, betel nuts, sindoor, alta, incense sticks and sweets. They draw out a betel leaf in both their hands and wipe the deity's face. This is done to make sure she doesn’t depart with tearful eyes. Next they put sindoor on the deity’s forehead and her shakha and pola (bangles worn by married women). After this, the idol is offered sweets and paan (betel leaf).
The sindoor is applied on the idols of God Ganesha, Kartikey, Laxmi and Saraswati who are also fed with sweets after Goddess Durga’s Boron. After the ritual is over, women apply this auspicious sindoor on their forehead and smear it on other married women and pray for their happy marital life.
After Devi Boron and Sindur Khela, Maa Durga's idol is carried out of the pandal for the immersion or Visarjan in the river. Towards the evening, people gather again one last time to wish each other Shubho Bijoya (Happy victory) and feast over piping hot luchis and ghugni.
Happy Durga Puja!