Devotees all over the world will now be able to watch the unique Durga Puja of Belur Math, where a young girl is worshipped along with the goddess, as the Ramakrishna Mission has decided to stream it live on Internet.
With eight hi-tech cameras covering diverse angles and a running English and Bengali commentary, all ceremonies, rituals and celebrations will be streamed live on the website www.belurmath.tv from Saturday, a monk-in-charge of the website department said.
"This initiative has been taken so that all those who cannot personally attend the Durga Puja, particularly those living outside Bengal, can be a part of the prayers. We will also have repeat telecast," said the monk.
So far, the Puja was shown live only on state-run television channel Doordarshan.
Started in 1901 by philosopher-saint Swami Vivekananda at the headquarters of the monastic order in Belur, Belur Math's Durga Puja attracts thousands of devotees each year for being the only one of its kind.
Known as the Kumari Puja, a young girl is worshipped ritually during the Durga Puja.
On the day of Ashtami, the same kind of offerings made to the goddess is given to the Kumari also, and finally Aarati is performed in elaborate ritualistic style.
Even senior monks offer flowers at her feet.
During his lifetime, Vivekananda had also performed Kumari Puja to create awareness on the potential divinity of women and ensure a respectful attitude towards them.
This tradition follows the ideals of his guru and 19th century mystic saint Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, who said that the divine mother manifests herself more in a pure-hearted girl.
He had also decreed that the puja should be done in the name of holy mother Sharada Devi, wife of Ramakrishna.
Instead of the ritual animal sacrifice, banana, white pumpkin and sugarcane are 'sacrificed' on the days of Asthami and Navami.
On the last day of Dashami or Dusshera, the Durga idol is immersed in River Ganga as blessed devotees give a teary farewell to the goddess.