Thousands of devotees participate in Kumari Puja on Mahashtami

October 7th, 2008 - 2:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Oct 7 (IANS) Thousands of devotees thronged puja pandals (marquees) Tuesday to make offerings on Mahashtami - the third of the five-day Durga Puja festival - and participate in the worship of pre-pubescent girls.People chanted hymns and offered anjali (prayer), making long queues before idols of the goddess Durga.

The worship of young girls as the ‘Mother Goddess’, called Kumari Puja, is an integral part of Mahashtami. The ritual attracted hundreds of devotees to Belur Math - the global headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission - in Kolkata’s twin district Howrah, about 10 km from here.

“I’ve come with my family to Belur Math just to experience this sacred ritual of Kumari Puja. This is the only thing which we don’t want to miss during pujas,” said Soumen Roy of Kolkata’s Kasba area.

“It’s really worth watching how hundreds of monks worship a maiden as the goddess on this particular day. It’s a very special event and the feeling which we get out of this devotion is different altogether,” he added.

According to Hindu philosophy, Kumari Puja was started to establish the value of women. The maiden who is worshipped symbolises the power that regulates creation, stability and destruction on the earth.

Kumari Puja was resurrected by the famous religious leader Ramakrishna Paramahansa Deb in the late 19th century.

As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga, the slayer of the demon Mahishashur, is lion-borne and wields an array of arms in her 10 hands.

It is believed that during the Durga Puja festival, the goddess, accompanied by her four children Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati, descend on the earth after invocation and supplication of the devotees for her appearance. She stays for four days to eradicate all evil from the earth.

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