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Durga Puja

The most important Bengali festival, the puja ('worship') of Durga, goddess of power, takes place throughout India but is particularly important in the city of Kolkata. The festival takes place over 10 days in September and October. The Goddess Durga, Mother of the Universe, is a symbol of female dynamism and is portrayed as both terrible and gracious. She is often depicted riding a lion, and is usually pictured with 10 arms. The worship of the goddess dates back to about 400 AD, possibly earlier and she has many names and guises. The Durga Puja is marked with colourful, exuberant processions, where handmade Hindu idols (some over 20 feet tall) are carried aloft to the river, where they are ritualistically submerged. This rite combines ancient tradition with a modern touch, as sometimes the idols used depict movie stars or recent flood victims. Singing, dancing and gift-giving are part of the celebrations and each day the ritual offerings are different. Food offerings consist of variations of many different things including sugar, honey, grains, fruits and oils, and other decorative or symbolic offerings include items like mirrors, arrows, soil, flowers, rings and bark.

Date: 23 September to 7 October 2014

Website: www.durga-puja.org