Durgā Pūjā

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The name by which the pan-Indian autumnal festival of Navarātri (Dasara) is known in Bengal, culminating in the blood sacrifices made to the goddess Durgā in her guise as the destroyer of the buffalo demon, Mahiṣāsura. Central to the goddess's worship, in Kolkata (Calcutta) and beyond, is the fashioning of her image in unbaked clay, and the creation of many thousands of individual and community tableaux, celebrating both her return to her parental home and her defeat of evil and chaos. Worshipped for nine days, on the tenth day (Dasara or Dashami), such images or tableaux are then immersed in the river or the sea. This is followed (at least in the major temples) by various animal sacrifices, principally of goats, sheep, fowl, and, in rare instances these days (following a government attempt to proscribe the practice), actual buffalo. The specific purpose is to satisfy the fierce Goddess with the blood she requires; more widely the intention is to replicate the decapitation of the demon in a creative act of destruction, and where a local ruler is involved to reinforce his power and authority by association with the Goddess.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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