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The Story of Dussehra

The Story of Dussehra

Dussehra, also called Vijayadashmi (or Bijoya in Bengal), is the culmination of the nine-day Navaratri celebrations. It is a festival that marks the killing of Ravana, his son Meghanatha and brother Kumbhakarna, by Rama. It is seen as the vistory of good over evil The Ramayana The epic Ramayana, describes the story of Rama. Rama was the exiled prince of the kingdom of Ayodhya. While in exile, he lived in the forest with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana....

Durga Puja in Calcutta

Durga Puja in Calcutta [Illustration by Shiju George] Durga Puja is the biggest festival in Bengal. We celebrate this puja very nicely in our city. We look forward to Durga Puja every year It is a joyous occasion for all of us. In Calcutta, Durga Puja is a wonderful celebration. Being vacation time, we enjoy ourselves very much. Durga Puja usually lasts for five days. It begins with ‘Shashti’ and ends with “Dashami”....

The Nine Nights of Navaratri

This year, the end of September marks the onset of Navaratri or “nine nights” in the Hindu calendar. With this begins one of the most festive phases in India, with Durga Puja in east India, Dussehra in north, central and west India, and Saraswati Puja in South India. It also sets the stage for Diwali in the near future. Navaratri literally means ‘nine nights’. This nine-day period, sacred to Durga, is celebrated sometime in the months of October and November....

Deepavali: Festival of Lights

Deepavali – or Diwali – as is commonly uttered – literally means rows of lamps. These lamps light up houses all over the country, but for different reasons. In West Bengal, it is time to worship Kali, the goddess with the fearsome strength, and in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh it is time to remember Dhanvantari, the divine physician. To some, the lights are a reminder of the return of Rama to his home after 16 years of exile....

The Making of the Goddess

The Making of the Goddess

On an ordinary day, the names Kumartuli and Krishnanagar would not make much of a difference to a Bengali. But come Durga Puja, and these two ordinary towns near Calcutta, become the focus of great attention. For it is here that the clay idols of Durga are made. This age-old tradition of clay sculpture has been preserved by the community of Pals. Months before the Puja, clay artisans start to breathe life into the images of Durga....

Here Comes Pujo!

Durga Puja is the most important festival for the people of West Bengal, the Eastern Indian state that has been home to three Nobel Laureates – Rabindranath Tagore, Amartya Sen, and Mother Teresa – as well as Oscar awardee Satyajit Ray. Durga Puja, or Pujo as it is usually referred to, ushers in a sense of well-being, with Diwali following close on its heels. The timing is just right: the sweltering heat, and the post-monsoon humidity gives way to Sharat or autumn....

How Iron was Found

Long ago, there lived a craftsman called Intupwa. Intupwa was an unhappy man because he tried, and failed, to cut wood with sharp stones. Then one day he dreamt of something better called iron. So he began his search for it. “Where can I find iron?” Intupwa asked the trees. “If we tell you, you’ll make an axe and cut us down,” the trees replied. How Iron was Found [Illustration by Sudheer Nath] “Where can I find iron?...

Joking with the Goddess

Joking with the Goddess

Gopal was in great pain. A big battle seemed to be raging in his stomach. Of course, there was nothing unusual about this. With his weakness for good food — sweets in particular — he often did overeat and this was the inevitable result. As long as the pain lasted, Gopal was full of remorse, and made wild promises to eat moderately, but all were forgotten the moment he was well. This time the pain was worse than anything he had ever experienced before....

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