Durga Puja

Hi Everyone

Yesterday was the last day of the Durga festival here in Mumbai. This is probably my favorite of all the festivals! Last year I told you about the Garba dance. This year I really felt that I was more able to take part in the whole festival as such. One interesting thing is that this festival is celebrated in distinct different ways in different parts of India. As Mumbai is the melting point it is, there are people from all over the country here, and it was celebrated in different ways in the area where I live.

Yesterday I had some visitors from Norway. So I decided that it was a good idea to show them both the versions of the celebration that happened close to where I live. First we went to Hiranandani Foundation School, where the celebration was in Gujarati style. There was a band playing, and a lot of people doing the Garba dance. My visitors were really thrilled with what they were taking part of! Garba is basically danced in two different ways. One ways is that people dance around in a huge circle, and make moves that I have hardly seen in any other dance. The other version is that people dance with sticks. They do either dance in pairs, or they dance in groups. Most people have one stick in each hand, and they have a special rhythm where they click the stick against each other. The rhythm is quite nice, and as soon as you have got it into your head it is really difficult to get it out again.

Dancing Dandiya

After the Dandyia dancing, we went to another area. Here the festival was celebrated in Bengali way. This is a completely different way of celebrating the same festival. A bit more religious I would maybe say. If it is possible to really feel any religious with so many people around, and security blowing their whistles all the time in order to try to get people to move on quicker. In West Bengal it is quite common to build what is called pandals, which is basically a temporary construction where people does their puja ceremonies in front of the goddess Durga. In my local area in Powai, there is build a replica of a huge temple, and idols (statues) of Durga is placed inside the temple.

The Durga pandal

The actual worship of the Goddess Durga as stipulated by the Hindu scriptures falls in the month of Chaitra, which roughly overlaps with March or April. This ceremony is however not observed by many and is restricted to a handful in the state of West Bengal.

The more popular form, which is also known as Sharadiya (Autumnal) Durga Puja, is celebrated later in the year with the dates falling either in September or October. Since the Goddess is invoked at the wrong time, it is called “Akaal Bodhon” in
Bengali.

For me, it is quite interesting to see how different societies can celebrate one such festival in so completely different ways. It is really true what people say, that India
have it all…

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

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