Durga Puja, the grand festival celebrated with fervor and zeal in West Bengal, is known for its elaborate rituals, mesmerizing decorations, and cultural performances. It typically spans five days, starting with Maha Shashti, also known as Sasthi. Sasthi marks the beginning of the much-awaited festival, and it’s a day filled with excitement and anticipation. In this article, we’ll explore ten exciting things to do on Sasthi, so you can kickstart your Durga Puja celebrations with a bang.
- Visit the Puja Pandals: Sasthi is the perfect day to start your pandal-hopping adventure. From traditional to innovative, pandals come in all shapes and sizes. Admire the artistic brilliance, intricate craftsmanship, and thematic designs that adorn these temporary structures. Each pandal tells a unique story, and you’ll be captivated by the creativity on display.
- Pray to the Goddess: The essence of Durga Puja is to worship Goddess Durga. On Sasthi, people offer their prayers at the pandals, where the priests perform rituals and aarti. It’s a moment of spiritual connection and devotion.
- Traditional Attire: Donning new and traditional attire is a significant part of Sasthi celebrations. People, especially women, dress up in stunning sarees, while men opt for traditional outfits. The streets come alive with vibrant colors and a sense of unity.
- Food Galore: Bengali cuisine is legendary, and Sasthi is the ideal time to indulge in a gastronomic adventure. From street vendors selling mouthwatering puchka (pani puri) to elaborate spreads at local restaurants and homes, there’s an abundance of delectable food to enjoy.
- Cultural Performances: Many pandals organize cultural events on Sasthi. Classical dances, folk music, and drama performances are common. Witness the rich cultural heritage of Bengal as artists showcase their talents.
- Admire the Decorations: Elaborate decorations in pandals are a treat for the eyes. Intricate lighting arrangements, artistic sculptures, and thematic decor create an enchanting atmosphere. Take your time to appreciate the aesthetics and take photographs to capture the moment.
- Kumari Puja: A unique tradition on Sasthi is Kumari Puja, where a young girl is worshipped as the divine mother. The chosen girl, usually under the age of 10 and symbolizing purity, sits on a pedestal as a representation of Goddess Durga. It’s a touching ceremony filled with devotion and symbolism.
- Sindoor Khela: The final day of Durga Puja, Dashami, is associated with Sindoor Khela. However, on Sasthi, women often apply a small amount of sindoor (vermilion) on each other’s faces as a symbol of celebration and sisterhood. It’s a colorful and joyous tradition.
- Artisan Workshops: Some pandals arrange workshops where you can interact with artisans and learn about the making of the idols and decorative items. It’s a fantastic opportunity to understand the craftsmanship that goes into the festival.
- Enjoy the Carnival: On Sasthi, some streets turn into vibrant carnivals with amusement rides, games, and stalls selling trinkets and sweets. It’s a fantastic experience for children and adults alike.
Sasthi, the first day of Durga Puja, marks the beginning of a week filled with cultural, religious, and social celebrations. It’s a time when the whole city comes alive with colors, lights, and a sense of unity. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there are numerous exciting things to do on Sasthi. From pandal hopping to indulging in delicious food and witnessing cultural performances, the day offers something for everyone. So, embrace the spirit of Sasthi and kickstart your Durga Puja celebrations with enthusiasm and joy.