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31 for 21 : Day 2 : Durga Puja

Posted Oct 02 2009 12:00am
I missed out on Day 1, so shall have to start with Day 2. Today being 2nd october it's a National Holiday here in India, being the birth centenary of the "Father of the Nation"Mahatma Gandhi. So Vir is off from school and getting restless at home and Saira who seems to have become more and more clingy with each day, won't leave my lap, but I think that's so cute, she shows her anger when taken away from me, and definately knows how to ask for what she wants, and god help you if you if she doesn't get it!

I've been missing for a few weeks that's because we've just finished with 4 days of major festivities here well its 4 days officially but starts at least 2 days before so in total I would say its about 6 days. It is called Durga Puja, which is one of the most popular Hindu festivals, and the biggest festival for the Bengalis (those who orignate from Bengal, in the Eastern side of India). It celebrates the annual visit of Mother Goddess Durga, destroyer of Demons and all things evil to her paternal home for a duration of 4 days, she is given the warmest welcome a married daughter can receive when she comes home. She is usually pictured as having ten arms holding a sword, conch, discus, rosary, bell, winecup, shield, bow & arrow, and spear. She is most often shown riding a lion. She is gorgeously dressed in royal red cloth and has several ornaments decorating her personage. The various tools reflect the eminent supremacy that helps in controlling the universe and obey her will.

For those of you interested, Durga in sanskrit means "she who is incomprehensible or difficult to reach". Goddess Durga is worshipped for her gracious as well as terrifying aspect. Mother of the Universe, she represents the infinite power of the universe and is a symbol of female dynamism. The manisfestation of Goddess Durga is said to emerge from Her formless essense and the two are inseparable.

Durga Puja is celebrated on a mass scale with puja pandals (marquees) dotting nearly every nook and corner of West Bengal, each one with an idol of the Goddess Durga along with her four children, most pandals are made to depict different themes, traditional as well as contemporary, innovations of true artists/craftmen. Thanks to a migrant Bengali population, the past few years have seen a rise in the number of Durga Pujas in other parts of the country and abroad as well. Preparations for the Puja begin long before the actual day arrives. If you are looking for bargains, you won’t find a better time. Publishing houses come out with puja editions of magazines, and craftsmen and artisans do brisk business at this time of the year. New clothes are bought for each family member, a minimum of one for each day and gifts are given/exchanged. Bengalis all over the world come together, no matter where they are living to celebrate to their hearts content, in Bengal it is four days of mad frenzy, revelry, excitement, eating out and getting together with family and friends. Masses of people are seen on the streets throughout the night and most of the day all visiting the different marquees to see the Goddess. Alot of people choose to stay indoors while others make sure they are out each day as well as night, the streets are lit up with beautiful lighting, rather breath-taking and I'd say its worth battling the crowds just to see these, one can also hear the constant sound of drums and is an experience very hard to discribe, one I would say that has to be experienced to be believed.

The festivities culminate on the fourth day with the immersion of Durga idols in the river Ganga. Hindus believe that on the fourth day the Goddess accompanied by her children returns to Kailash her husband's abode.

I'm attaching a few pictures, just to give you an idea, there's loads more if you Google, but I didn't want to make it too complicated. Vir had a great time with his friends, and Saira got all dressed up too and did her rounds. We had a whole lots of programmes going on in the apartment block we live in, as we have alot of children living here, so its great fun for them. I organised a kids fashion show (with the little time I have) and many thought I was mad, but it was fun and much appreciated afterwards.

Here are a few pictures

Here are some from the fashion show and of Saira all dressed up to go out and see what all the fuss is about outside....

Saira pleased to be going out...

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