The sixth day of Devi Paksha is known as ‘Maha Shashti’ which marks the formal beginning of the Durga Puja. Durga Puja is mainly celebrated in the Indian state of West Bengal and also in the eastern parts of India.
There are four rituals that are performed on Shashti:
Kalparambho: The beginning of the Puja.
Bodhon or Bodhan: The consecration of Goddess Durga idol. Also includes the unveiling of the face of the Durga idol.
Amantran: To invite Goddess Durga.
Adhivas: Sanctifying the stay of Goddess Durga in the area of the Puja mandap.
According to the Bengalis, it is believed that the divine consort of Lord Shiva, Devi Parvati or Goddess Durga comes back home to her father house from her husband with her four children – Ganesha, Kartika, Lakshmi and Saraswati and thus, all the women participate in setting up a ‘Durga Kalash’ before the idol on the day of Shashti to welcome ‘Uma’ as a daughter on her arrival for three days.
Kalparambho - The beginning of the Durga Puja
On this day, according to ‘Treta Yug’ Rama performed Durga Puja in autumn before beginning his fight against Ravana. On the time of Dakshinayana – (The southward journey of the Sun) according to Puranas, Gods sleep during this time. Therefore Rama performed a puja and began his premature awakening to make Goddess Durga wake up or ‘Akalbodhon’ of Devi Durga.
In other parts of India, the sixth day of Navaratri is also celebrated as Durga Shashti or Maha Shashti along with Katyani Puja as part of ‘Navadurga’ puja in Shaktheya Sampradaya.