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Bijoya Dashami


Bijoya Dashami is the tenth day of the auspicious fortnight, the day when the ten-armed Goddess bids goodbye to her earthly paternal home and returns to her husband in the Himalayas. The last day coincides with Dussehra. Idols are taken away in large processions for immersion in water. "Sindur Khela" (Vermillion game) is a major event of Dashami. First, the married women greet the Mahadevi for one last time, accompanied by rituals. They do aarati, but ready-to-chew paan-leaves in the hands of the goddess, put sweets on the lips of the idol, wipe out eyes as one does to wipe off the tears when leaving a loving place. This event is called "Durga Baran". They apply vermilion to the Goddess's head and to each other and greet each other with sweets.

Before "Ma" leaves, married women of all age groups visit the nearby pandal to take part in an emotional ritual where vermilion (sindhoor khela), is applied to the parting of each other's hair. The loha (the metal and gold bracelet given to the bride by the mother-in-law) and pala / sankha (the red and white bangles worn by many married Bengali women) are also touched up. Sindhoor is applied by the women and the priest on the forehead of the goddess. A mother-in-law gives an iron bangle interlaced with gold or silver to a new bride as the first gift, a token of suhag, which the daughter-in-law wears all her life. During Durga puja, when idols are being taken away for immersion, sindoor is taken from in front of the idols and applied to the parting in the hair by married women. What is left on the fingers is applied to this iron and gold (silver) bangle, and is known as touching the loha. The ritual of applying sindoor can also take place at home when Bijoya Dashami is celebrated with family members.

Men follow the customary 'Kolakuli' (embrace each other). The younger members do pronam (touching the feet) to the elders while the men do kolakuli (embrace). Sweets are prepared at home, but today most make do with sweets brought from the market. Savouries like nimki are often made at home to be distributed to friends, relatives and well-wishers. Durga Puja is a festival, Bengalis celebrate without religious inhibitions. It is more of a socio- cultural celebration that tends to renew kinship with friends and relatives.




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