In Bengali culture, Sindoor Khela is a customary element of the Durga Puja celebrations. During the completion of Durga Puja on Vijayadashami, the ceremony entails applying sindoor, or vermilion powder, to the idols of Goddess Durga and among married ladies. This ritual takes place before the idols are submerged.
After the “ghat visarjan” (a symbolic immersion of Durga signalling the conclusion of the Puja ceremonies) on the day of Dussehra or Vijayadashami, Goddess Durga is said to have left the world for the year. In Bengali culture, it is customary to make an offering of Sindoor to married daughters as a parting gift.
Hues of Red & White in Pink City
The crimson and white hues of the traditional Bengali ‘Sindoor Khela’ ceremony came alive in the Pink City as Shakti Women’s Organisation recently organized the event with much enthusiasm and fervour. After offering sindoor to Maa Durga, the women performed the ritual of ‘Sindoor Khela’ by applying sindoor to each other and gave the message of sisterhood. What’s noteworthy is that not only married women but unmarried women also participated enthusiastically in this ceremony.
In the beginning of the program, Member of the Shakti Women’s Organisation, Sushmita Das explained the importance of ‘Sindoor Khela’. “In Bengali culture, it is believed that Goddess Durga arrives on Earth with her four children to celebrate the Durga Puja festival. On the last day of the festival when Goddess Durga leaves just like how a daughter comes to her mother’s home and returns to her in-laws, the atmosphere is that of melancholy. Women bid farewell to the Goddess. They use betel leaves to wipe Goddess Durga’s cheeks as she is believed to be shedding tears. Thereafter, they apply vermillion on the parting of her forehead and traditional bangles”, shared Sushmita to enlighten the members present at the event.
After this, a formal puja was performed. One by one the women performed aarti of Maa Durga and offered sindoor on the head and feet of the idol of Durga Maa. To spread the message of an eco-friendly celebration, the idol of Goddess Durga was made using sand. Later, the women applied sindoor to each other and fed sweets.
An Authentic Experience
To recreate the magic of Bengal, the women adorned red and white apparel and applied alta, which is a bright red dye applied to hands and feet. They also danced to traditional Bengali Dhak music. The Bengali members of the group also performed the quintessential ‘Dhunuchi Naach’. This devotional dance is performed to thank Goddess Durga by holding a dhunuchi, which contains the burning coconut husk with dhuno (frankincense) sprinkled on it. Bengali delicacies like Sandesh, Jhal Muri, Nimki, Chanachur, Ghugni, Chire Bhaja etc. were also served on the occasion.
A Symbol of Sisterhood
Talking about the objective behind organizing this event, Founder, Shakti Women Organisation, Sonakshi Vashistha shared that ‘Sindoor Khela’ was organised for the 4th consecutive year by the organisation. “It is an initiative to celebrate new cultures for the localites. The programme saw the presence of our members who are professionals from different fields. Irrespective of marital status women came together to apply vermillion on each other as a symbol of sisterhood and bonding of women. Women from different cities like Jodhpur, Mumbai and Ajmer also attended the festivities”, adds Sonakshi.
Sharing her experience of Sindoor Khela, Suman Singh, a member who came from Jodhpur to participate in the event, says: “I had heard of Sindoor Khela but this is the first time I had the chance to participate in such an experience as usually only married women take part in it. I thoroughly enjoyed the various aspects of the celebration as it spread the vibe of strength and sisterhood among everyone”
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