Kolkata, Oct 12: Thousands of devotees from across the country flocked to the Belur Math here, the global headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Saturday for the Durga Ashtami Puja.
The rituals began in the morning with ‘Kumari puja’ where girls are worshipped as the goddess.
Belur Math in Howrah district, 10 km from Kolkata, saw a huge gathering, including West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayan.
Kumari Puja was started by Swami Vivekananda in 1901 to underline the importance of women.
The girl who is worshipped symbolises the power that regulates creation, stability and destruction on earth.
This year, seven-year-old Kankana Chakrabarty has been selected as the ‘Kumari’ and is being worshipped in the “Malini” form of the goddess at the Math.
At dawn, after a ritual bath in the holy waters of the Ganga, ‘Kumari’ was wrapped in a red sari and adorned with flowers and jewellery, with a ‘sindur (vermillion) tilak’ on her forehead.
The young Kumari fasts the whole day until the puja is over. She is made to sit before the goddess’s idol on a decorated chair with priests chanting hymns and dhak (traditional drum) being played in the background.
After the puja, the divinity of the goddess descends into the Kumari, said a priest.