On the auspicious day of Maha Saptami, the second day of Durga Puja, celebrations are taking place in different parts of the country. All devotees are in high spirits as these five sacred days mark the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura.

This year Durga Puja festivities begin on 26 September (Shashti) and end on 30 September (Vijaya Dashmi) which is largely being celebrated in West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, and parts of Tripura. It is also observed in Northern states of the country.

Durga is the manifestation of shakti, or the power of God. The goddess takes different forms to destroy evil forces at different times. One of these was Mahishasura, a demon who was troubling Gods and those who lived in heaven. They did not know how to get rid of him. That is when Goddess Durga, accompanied by her favourite animal (vahan) lion fought against Mahishasura.

During Durga Puja, the pandals are artistically decorated and visited by people; prasad (offering to God) is usually made in the form of khichdi. Various stalls are set up with foods from various parts of the country. Dishes such as chops, puchka, kathi rolls, mishti, mishti pulao and jalebi are made during the festival.

Filled with flavours and colours of Bengal, the day starts with early morning prayers, when the devotees are all set to welcome Maa Durga on Her annual earthly sojourn – believed by the faithful to be her maternal home, she being the daughter of Mother Earth. Along with Her four children – Lord Ganesha, Lord Kartikeya, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati – Maa Durga bestows her blessings on everyone.