In the 'Ramayana', Lord 'Rama' along with his brother and army of monkeys lead by Hanuman went to 'Lanka' to rescue his wife, Sita, who was abducted and imprisoned by the ten headed 'Ravana', the king of the Demons in Lanka.
Before his final battle with 'Ravana', Lord 'Rama' seeked the blessings of Devi 'Durga' for defeating 'Ravana'.
He was given to understand that the Goddess would be pleased only if she was worshipped with one hundred Blue Lotuses. After travelling and searching the whole world, Lord 'Rama' gathered only ninety-nine Blue Lotuses. So he finally decided to offer one of his eyes, which resembled Blue Lotuses. Durga, being pleased with the devotion of 'Rama', appeared and blessed him for the battle.
The fierce and decisive battle started on the day of 'Saptami' and Ravana was finally defeated and killed on the 'Sandhikshan' i.e. the crossover period between Ashtami,the next day and Navami , the day after. 'Ravana' was cremated on Dashami.
The main ritual of Durga Puja spans a period of four days. However, in case of traditional and household pujas, the festivities last till ten days. Debi-Pakkha is the name given to the fortnight from the new moon till the next full moon. This is the most propitious time for performing holy rites. The ritual of drawing the eyes on the image of the goddess is called chakkhu-daan. Symbolising the process of infusing the image with the power of vision, this is done on Mahalaya, the day of the new moon.
The main puja starts from Shasthi, which is the sixth day after the new moon. On Saptami, the image of the goddess is infused with life through a process called Bodhon. Early in the morning, the pran of the Devi is put inside the image after it is brought from a nearby river through the medium of a banana plant, called the Kola Bou. The Kola Bou, bathed and draped in a new yellow saree, resembles a newly wed bride. Ashtami is universally accepted as the culminating point of the four day celebrations. It was on this day that Durga had killed Mahishasura. The ritual of Sandhipuja marks Sandhikkhan, the juncture between Ashtami and Nabami. The main attraction of Nabami is the Maha-Arati held in the evening. On Dashami, the image is immersed in a river, and people bid a sorrowful farewell to the Mother Goddess, and the wait begins for yet another year.
Bijoya is a special ritual whereby peace and good relations are reaffirmed. Families exchange sweets and people embrace each other, vowing brotherhood. Bijoya continues till the next new moon, when Kali Puja is held.
According to tradition, the images of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartick and Ganesh are also separately worshipped along with that of Durga. The image of Durga is framed at the centre, and the background behind the whole group is called the chaal-chitra. It is a circular canvas of mat containing paintings of heavenly scenes and drawings of other important gods and goddesses.
The community puja, the most-coveted festival in the year, has transcended geographical boundaries and reached every son and daughter of the soil across the globe. The four-day fair - with its splendour and mesmerising look - is too beautiful to be a called a mere festival. It has become an indispensable part of every one's life. Such is the charm and seduction of the occasion that several big community pujas in the city are being sponsored by multi-national companies and commercial firms.