Sandhi Puja 2023: All About The Rituals And Offerings
Image Credit: Kushmanda sacrifice is carried on during Sandhi Puja

Durga Pujo is a beautiful festival, filled with culture, tradition and pretty little rituals that bring us together as a community. From kola bou sthapona or the Aparajita Pujo, which is performed on the last day, right before visarjan – there are many rituals that make this festival super special. And one of those rituals is the Sandhi Puja.

Performed right at the end of Ashtami and the beginning of Navami, Sandhi Puja is a prayer, a ritual that is dedicated to Maa Chamunda. It is believed that Her disciples pray to her to save them from the atrocities of two demons Chanda and Munda. The legend says that while Maa Chamunda was fighting off Mahishasur, Chanda and Muda were wreaking havoc and then attacked Her from the back. Enraged by this, She killed them both. The time during this Puja, which is performed 24 minutes before Ashtami ends to 24 minutes after Navami begins, is when Maa Chamunda is at the peak of her powers.

Now, there are several intricacies involved with Sandhi Puja. There is a tradition of doing the puja with exactly 108 diyas or earthen lamps, 108 lotuses, a garland made with 108 bel patra or leaves. A special focus is on offering red fruits to Maa Chamunda, like apples, pomegranate and cherries. All the fruits that are offered to the Goddess is always whole and never cut into pieces. Food grain is also offered to Maa Chamunda and it is uncooked. Other than these, red clothes, red bangles and sindoor along with hibiscus flowers are used in the puja as well.

As for the sacrifice part, Pandit Saroj Roy of Tarakeshwar says, “Animal sacrifice is becoming more and more uncommon, however, it depends upon the traditions of the region. Many communities, mostly in villages, carry out goat or “chagol” sacrifice. For Durga Pujo Pandal, where I oversee the rituals, we only carry out Kushmanda Bali – which is plant sacrifice”. According to Pandit Roy, the four main components of the ritual are – kola or banana, kheera or cucumber, aakh or sugarcane and chaal kumro or white gourd. This is a part of Kushmanda sacrifice and is carried out in most pandals.

The prasad from Sandhi Pujo is khichudi-labra and a lot of different varieties of vegetable fries. Luchi and semuer payesh are also served as Prasad to the devotees. Sandhi Puja is a very important ritual of Durga Pujo. With dhak, dhunuchi and Jai Maa Chamunda chants, it is a beautiful time and watching this Puja in front of your eyes is considered extremely auspicious.