Bhubaneswar, Oct 24: As Durga Puja and Navratri come to a magnificent conclusion with the festival of Vijayadashmi or Dussehra, devoted followers of Maa Durga are preparing to bid a grand farewell to the goddess. One of the most pivotal rituals on the final day of Durga Puja celebrations is the enchanting Sindur Khela.
In this tradition, married women in Bengal come together to apply sindur, a bright vermilion powder, on each other's foreheads, accompanied by heartfelt prayers for the enduring well-being of their husbands.
It is believed that during these four days, Goddess Durga visits her parental home, where her mother Menoka and father Giriraj lovingly receive her, along with her children Lord Ganesha, Kartikeya, goddess Saraswati, and Laxmi. They offer a variety of special bhogs (ritualistic offerings) to honor her during this time. On Dashami, it's time for the goddess to return to her husband, Lord Shiva, and devotees ensure she receives a grand farewell. They apply sindur on her forehead and feet, offering betel leaves and sweets in reverence.
History of Sindur Khela:
The history of Sindur Khela can be traced back approximately 400 years when local women in West Bengal and parts of Bangladesh initiated this tradition. Over time, it spread to various other regions of India and has now become an integral part of Vijayadashmi celebrations.
The rituals of Sindur Khela are both intricate and beautiful. Bengali women, adorned in traditional saris and jewelry, start by applying sindur to the forehead and feet of the goddess. Following this, they engage in smearing sindur on each other, which fosters a sense of camaraderie among the women and spreads happiness and joy. Another significant ritual, known as Devi Boron, is the moment when Durga devotees bid farewell to the goddess.
They draw a betel leaf on their palms and gently touch it to the deity's face. This symbolic gesture represents wiping away any tears from Maa Durga's face as she prepares to leave her parents to reunite with her husband. Sindoor is then applied to her forehead, followed by her bangles (shankha and pola), and offerings of sweets are made.
After these rituals, married women share the auspicious sindoor with one another, applying it to their foreheads and faces while offering sweets, all the while praying for the happiness and prosperity of their married lives. Finally, the idol of Maa Durga is lovingly carried by devotees to a nearby water body for immersion, symbolizing the departure of the goddess as she returns to her heavenly abode.