Thursday, November 01, 2007

Durga Pujo

Photo: Tomas Munita for The New York Times

Every year around this time, the awesome figure of a woman, with three piercing eyes and 10 arms splayed, appears in every nook and corner of Calcutta.

Half Mardi Gras and half Christmas, Durga Pujo, a five-day festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga, is the most important religious event for Hindus in this part of India. Worship is only one part of the ritual.

Durga herself represents both martial prowess — spear and club in hand, she is portrayed as slaying a demon (half man, half buffalo) at her feet — and benign motherhood. The festival celebrates her homecoming with her four children in tow. Her story represents the oldest fable: the victory of good over evil.

downtown Calcutta

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