Bangladesh Adventures

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Enjoying Durga Puja


One of the most important Bengali Hindu celebrations is that of Durga Puja. According to the Hindu solar calendar, it falls on the first nine days of the month of Ashvin; this year the celebration began on Sep. 23rd and ends with the biggest day of revelry on Oct. 2nd. The best place to observe this year’s festivities in Bangladesh are in Dhamrai or in Old Dhaka at Shakhari Bazaar, otherwise known as ‘Hindu Street.

During Durga Puja, god in the form of the Divine Mother is worshiped in her various forms as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Though the goddess is one, she is represented and worshiped in three different aspects. On the first three nights of the festival, Durga is worshiped. On the following three, Lakshmi and then Saraswati Devi on the last three nights. The following tenth day is called Vijayadasami. Vijaya means "victory", the victory over one's own minds that can come only when these three: Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati are worshiped. Today's most authentic form of the Durga is that of a ten handed goddess modeled out of clay astride a lion. Each of those hands carry a separate weapon in them except two, which holds the spear which has been struck into the chest of the demon, Mahishasura. Look for these clay icons and follow the sound of drum-beats as on the tenth day from the new moon, the image is immersed in a pond or river. (Picture at left:The goddess. Hundreds of clay icons, like these from
Shakhari Bazaar, are worshipped during Durga Puja.)

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