Wednesday, October 13, 2010

{Durga Puja}

Festival season is officially here! I'm totally excited. Today is Mahalaya, which marks the first day of the official beginning of the 10 days of Durga Puja, or the worshipping of Goddess Durga. Legend has it that Durga, the warrior avatar of Goddess Parvati, was created by the energy and aura of all the other Hindu Gods when the demon Mahisasura was hell-bent on destroying both the earth and the heavens. She was able to do what no other God or man could do - defeat Mahisasura and free the earth and heavens from his terrible clutches. Thus, she is worshipped for 10 days all over India, most notably in the Eastern Indian state of West Bengal.

I'm studying in my dorm room with the Mahalaya -- an ancient recording that describes Goddess Durga's courageous feat in song, prose, poetry, and prayer - on repeat. When I was growing up in India, we travelled to Varanasi, my ancestral home in Northern India, every September/October for Durga Puja. My whole family used to gather there -- it was a great big mish mosh part full of cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, grandparents, neighbors, and so many other people. I loved the time when my Dad, every year around September, would write a letter to my school asking me to be excused for about two weeks so that we could travel to Varanasi for Durga Puja.

It's been nine years since I've been home to Varanasi for Durga Puja. I've kept in touch by going to Durga Pujas in the area. Here, my friends, aunties and uncles have become my second family, but it isn't the same. Durga Puja in the States is crammed into one weekend - two and a half days in place of 10 days of constant fun and family. I miss it dearly!

I'm sharing some images of what Durga Puja means to me -- enjoy!

Sindoor Khela - at the end of Durga Puja.

Smokey smokey...this is what Durga Puja looks like in India. Smoke, hundreds of lamps, the heady smell of incense and sandalwood, flowers, priests, chanting and prayer.


Dhunuchi Naach!
I love the sound of dhaak drums - they are so Bengali and every time I hear them I think of puja.


{I started writing this post last Thursday and didn't finish until now...hence the start of Mahalaya reference)

1 comment:

  1. heyy! at first thank you for sharing such beautiful experience.if you dont mind could you please specify the source of the second image of durga in yellow sari,just above the smokey durga.plzzzz:-)


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