Durga Puja or Durgotsab or Akalbodhan is widely celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and passion in the most parts of India. It is the most important festival of the Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura. The amount of enthusiasm and passion for the festival is of more or less of the same level in some other Indian states also like Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand.
Durga Puja is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm abroad also, particularly in the neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh. In fact, the festival is celebrated even in many western nations especially in US and in Britain where a large percentage of the NRIs consist of Bengalis.
Durgotsab is celebrated in the month of September and/or October every year. The festivity continues for 10 days at the end of which the idols of the Hindu Goddess Durga along with other some other Gods and Goddess including Shiva, Ganesh, Kartikeya, Saraswati and Lakshmi, and the demon Mahishasura, is immersed in ponds and rivers marking the end of the festival.
The last five days of Durgotsab, namely, Sashthi, Maha Saptami, Mahashtami, Maha Nabami and Bijoya Dashami attract huge crowds. To celebrate the Puja, large pandals are erected all over India under which the statues of the Goddess Durga and others are displayed.
During the festival, West Bengal and Tripura, besides many other Indian states, boast of thousands of pandals under which the statutes of all shapes and sizes are displayed and worshipped. In Kolkata alone over 2,000 pandals are erected.
Durga Puja signifies the triumph of good over evil. Though it is celebrated mainly by the Hindus it is not confined to just one religion. People cutting across religious divides enjoy the 10 day long religious carnival. During the Puja, they sport new outfits and avoid non-vegetarian food to pay obeisance to the Goddess.>