To be in Calcutta, now officially named Kolkata, India, for the Durga Puja was an amazing experience and a photographer’s dream. The Puja is the worship of the Hindu goddess Durga when she revisits earth for four days each year in early October. The wife of Shiva, Durga has four children: Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartikeya, and my favorite, Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity of wealth and success, who are depicted with her. The goddess Durga is usually portrayed as riding a lion, and carrying weapons in many of her ten arms and thus she is the ferocious protector of the righteous, and destroyer of the evil. The worship, or Puja, of the goddess Durga dates back to the late 1500s.
Dashami, the last day of Durga Puja, is the tearful farewell to the deity as she is entreated to return to her celestial home and to return again next year, is the most tender part of the tradition. The married ladies smear Her with vermilion (sindoor) and offer sweets, and betel-leaf (paan). Then women also paint each other with vermillion and share in the sweets. Durga is then immersed in the Ganges River until next year.
I have written a detailed description of the Durga Puja (festival) here.
A brief balck and white video of last year’s event can be seen here.
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