Rituals of Durga Puja start from the day of Mahalaya and continue till Dashami. The rituals include Bodhon, Amantron, mangal ghat, bathing of Nabapatrika and so on. Sacrifices are also included in the rituals. Earlier there was animal and human sacrifice. Since the rule of Vaishnava Kings there has been no such sacrifice. Vegetables are sacrificed instead. The sacrifice of pumpkin was one of the most common substitutes. Sacrifice is basically casting away of one’s sins and faults.
Mantra has the power to accomplish what they say in the context of the Puja. Chanting of Mantras in a Puja is very efficacious. The power of mantra is associated with Puja and kriya. One can take refuge in God as Mother.
One finds the following prayer to Mother Durga in the Mahanarayana Upanishad (2.2): I take refuge in Her, the Goddess Durga, who is fiery in lustre and radiant with ardency, who is the Power belonging to the Supreme, who manifests Himself manifold, who is the Power residing in actions and their fruits, rendering them efficacious (or the Power that is supplicated to by the devotees for the fruition of their work). O Thou Goddess skilled in saving, Thou takest us across difficulties excellently well- Our salutations to Thee.”. She is duly worshipped in both aspects. One hymn praises Her benign Power, saying, “To Durga, the gracious and ever-benign, to the ever-auspicious One, the manifesto of all the worlds, I offer my respectful obeisance.” With words of humility and reverence, another hymn praises both aspects: “Obeisance to Thee, O Divine Mother, Durga, the benignant and yet terrific roaring. Thou art power, the dark night of destruction.” Both aspects, understood correctly, reveal Her benign redeeming grace. She destroys but to save. The vibrations give power. It is the sound that produces vibration. Mantra has the quality of a spell. People generally accept the action of the mantra when it is uttered by an ascetic. Mantras need to be pronounced correctly. Mantras contain the deity’s name in a particular object in which it is invoked.
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