K0olkata, Oct 20 : Kolkata residents, clad in colourful outfits, were out on the brightly illuminated streets to enjoy the first day of the five-day-long Durga Puja festivities, which started Saturday with 'Mahashashthi'.
Millions of people also thronged marquees across the state which celebrated the grand commencement the autumn festival with rhythmic beatings of traditional drums, exhibitions, and various cultural programmes.
Around 2,400 community puja organisers in Kolkata have erected massive and beautifully decorated marquees, and huge crowds started pandal-hopping Friday evening.
Puja organisers showcased their creative excellence in making these glittering marquees. Renowned community pujas, which embraced 'theme pujas' in decorating the pandals as well as idols of Goddess Durga, illustrated themes like women's empowerment, global warming and saving environment, among others.
While merry-making youngsters were seen enjoying lip-smacking street foods, long queues were witnessed before well-known eateries in the city.
'Shashthi' - the sixth day of the lunar calendar - marked the beginning of the puja rituals.
'Kalparamvo' (the beginning of the pujas), 'Bodhan' (the consecration of Ma Durga's idol), 'Amantran' (inviting the goddess) and 'Adhivas' (sanctifying the stay of the goddess in the exact spot where the puja is being held) - were performed in community puja marquees and households where Mother Durga is being worshipped with all fervour.
As per the Ramayana, before attacking Lanka, Lord Rama had performed Durga Puja in autumn - a time when the gods sleep, according to Hindu religious texts. So, Lord Rama had to first wake up the goddess prematurely, and as such the awakening in the autumnal festival is called 'Akal (untimely) Bodhan' of the goddess.
However, Hindu mythology also states that the puja celebrates the annual descent of Goddess Durga, the slayer of the demon Mahishashur, accompanied by her four children Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati on earth to visit her parents.
The goddess, astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her ten hands, stays for four days to eradicate all evil from the earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva at Kailash on 'Dashami'.