Durga Pujah

Durga Pujah, an annual festival celebrated among the natives of eastern India, in honor of the goddess Durga (q.v.). It lasts fifteen days, twelve of which are devoted to preparation and three to worship. For these occasions multitudes of images are prepared, of a composition of wood, hay, clay, or other light and cheap material. They vary from a few inches to fifteen or twenty feet in height, but are usually of the size of a human body. The first part of the ceremony consists in the consecration of the idols, at the completion of which the spirit of Durga is supposed to enter the image. Then the worship of the goddess commences with great energy and intense devotion. Every conceivable ceremony, gyration, carousal, dance, and sacrifice is performed for three days and three nights. On the morning of the fourth day the idols are unconsecrated, and the goddess dismissed from her earthly habitation. The owners now carry these images forth to the banks of the Ganges, where, after various rites and ceremonies, the carriers suddenly make an assault upon them, violently break them in pieces, and cast their broken fragments into the depths of the river. SEE HINDUISM.

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