The Science in Durgotsav

By Puja Sen Podder

Yes, you hear it right. Deeper within the realms of devotion, rituals and festivities, lies the science, the science of our ancient learning!! The different aspects of Devi Durga, her children ( as we Bengalees believe them to be) and her worship involves various fascinating truths. Science to be precise.

  1. Navapatrika- the nine plants of the Navapatrika- banana, pomegranate, colocassia, turmeric, ashoka, arum, jayanti, wood apple ( bel) and rice are all such plants who had great significance in the era before and when Durga Puja began. The era when cholera and tuberculosis were common in Bengal and famine occurred frequently. Colocassia and arum were the saviour food when cereals were sparse during the famines. Banana, rice and pomegranate were great sources of nutrition during tuberculosis, wood Apple a therapeutic food during cholera and ashoka, turmeric and jayanti were life saving medicines. Worshipping these plants as Devis first began as a sort of symbolic thanksgiving.
  2. Coconut- Coconut is a part of Devi’s everyday naividya ( raw offerings). Diced and peeled ripe coconuts, scraped and grated coconut, narkel er naru ( homemade coconut and jaggery sweets) etc. Coconuts on the Kalash, coconuts as ahuti in the yaggya. Coconuts were always the favourite palms in Bengal. Fleshy, juicy, packed with nutrients it’s actually not a nut but a fruit. The lauric acid in coconut creates a better immune response in the body against microbes. During Durga Puja when we eat out a lot, coconuts ensure we are protected to a better extent.
  3. Ganesha- This everyone debates and many knows. Was the first head transplanted on our dearest boy??? If yes... it was perfect.
  4. Raktabeej- Cloning made scholars and debaters tear out their hair for decades now. Legal or illegal- logics are many. But was every drop of blood from the demon Raktabeej giving rise to another Raktabeej symbolic? How they knew then?
  5. Blowing a shankha- When the shankha is blown, energy is emitted. This energy reduces the frequency of the distressing frequencies. Thus the blowing of a shankha makes the atmosphere holy and pure. Science isn’t it?
  6. The third eye- Devi Durga has a third eye ( most Gods and goddesses have). The third eye, according to scriptures represents the fire that burns every ego. The kundalini chakra at the position of the third eye, that is between the eye brows is of the highest order. You will be surprised to know what we have there. At that point inside the skull is our pineal gland. Scientifically, the third eye is at the pineal gland, a gland in your brain that many believe is important in sparking psychic abilities. Many also consider the third eye as the most powerful place of ethereal energy.

Enough of science? Go back and enjoy the Navami evening aarti. Tomorrow is Visarjan. What if I tell you that it symbolises recycling of matter and energy conservation??

Puja Sen Podder

Hailing from a political family in a small Southern Assam town of Silchar, Ms Puja Sen Podder did her Post Graduation in Life Sciences and was a gold medalist for the same from Assam University. Later she completed her MPhil in Genetics and worked extensively in the field of oral cancer research. She was a lecture of Biotechnology in a Government college for a brief period.
Married and blessed with a daughter, she’s a devoted mother now. An avid reader as she is, her favourite genre remains science fiction. “My soul is reborn every time I read something meaningful”, she says.