We’re in Calcutta, India for the festival of Durga Puja. The three day celebration is in honor of the Hindu goddess Durga, who defeated the King of Demons in an epic battle. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
Shivani Khullar is a television producer from New Delhi.
“On the first day there’s just celebration — there’s a lot of drumming, there’s a lot of chants and prayers. And the frenzy just increases. First day it’s comparatively low, second day it builds up, and the third day it’s immense, because that’s when she’s departing.”
During Durga Puja in every neighborhood of Calcutta you find beautifully painted clay statues of the goddess Durga.
“There are millions, literally millions of statues which are made. And there’s of course, in the main big areas and congregations, there’s a huge idol. In the main temples there’s a huge idol. There’s a lot of work that goes into it. There’s a lot of devotion. The clay for the idols is taken out from our holy river Ganges. So she’s made from that, and they feel that she would come into the idols only if she’s made from something holy — a part of her.”
On the final day of the celebrations, the goddess returns home when her statues are symbolically returned to the river.
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“Then there’s a big, big, big procession of thousands of devotees around her, and then they bring about the lot of reverence, and a lot of prayers and drums start beating, real hard and then very very fast. And that’s when she’s brought down and finally put on a chariot where’s she’s taken across the streets and onto the holy river in Calcutta.”
More on Durga Puja in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.