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Festival of the Goddess Durga

Learn about a vibrant festival in India for the Hindu deity Durga, and discover related artworks in the Asian Art Museum's collection. For more information on Durga visit education.asianart.org. Created by Asian Art Museum.

Video transcript

(throaty chanting) - [Narrator] Images of the goddess appear throughout India. She can appear on her own or as the consort of male deity. The goddess represents primal forces of nature, energy, and fertility. She can appear wrathful or compassionate. One of the most popular forms of the goddess is known as Durga. - Durga is highly revered in Bengal. And Bengalis all over India, even if they're away from their homes, come the month of October, when it is time for Durga Puja, or the festival of the goddess, Durga, there will be 10 days of celebration. (high-pitched wailing music) - [Narrator] Statues of the goddess, Durga, are hand-crafted with clay on a superstructure of straw. They are brightly painted and dressed with fine fabrics. The statues are displayed, a competition is held, and prizes are awarded. Durga rides on a lion, and her many arms brandish weapons given to her by the male gods who were unable to defeat a demon. - [Bobby] The moment that we see in the statue invariably is that Durga mounting or standing on the lion. Often, there is a human figure emerging whose chest has been pierced by this trident held in Durga's, one of her hands. When she is destroying the forces of evil, she is not doing with any kind of personal animosity. She is doing it as an act where justice must prevail over injustice, where right must prevail over wrongdoing. (crowd yelling) - [Narrator] At the end of the festival, the statues are taken to a nearby river and immersed in the waters. (crowd yelling) - [Bobby] She is returned back to the Earth because she was constructed with clay, and the clay, once again, returns to the Earth. But, it's not unusual to find grown people crying, really, really, grieving. And, they'll be kind of beseeching the mother to come back again next year. (crowd chattering) (Indian music) (crowd yelling and cheering)