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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in India Lesson 19 - Celebration of the Goddess Durga
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in India Series at HindiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hindi holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 19, Celebration of the Goddess Durga. In Hindi, it’s called Durga Puja.
According to the Hindu calendar, on the first day of the month of Ashwin the ceremonies of worship for the Goddess Durga begin, which last for a total of ten days. This is a major festival in east India.
In this lesson, we’ll talk about Durga Puja, which in the Western calendar falls in the months of October or November. It’s also sometimes referred to as Sharadotsav or Durgotsav.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What is the importance of the tenth day of this festival?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Durga Puja is the biggest event of the year in the regions of Assam, Jharkhand, Bihar, Tripura, Manipur, and especially West Bengal, or in Hindi Paschimi Bangal. Schools, colleges, and offices remain closed during this time and cities become filled with Puja activities. Children get new books, or Kitaab and toys, or Khilone, and people of all ages dress in new clothes to join in on the Puja fun. Various arts are can be found on display at this time, especially idols of Durga. Every year artists make new idols, which are immersed in water and consecrated at the end of the festival.
There are two popular tales, or Kahani, tied to the celebration. The first is of Uma – an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Uma, who is Lord Shiva’s wife, returns to her parents' home on Earth from Mount Kailash at this time each year; the festival is held in celebration of her homecoming. She is accompanied by her daughters, Lakshmi and Saraswati, and sons Ganesh and Kartik. On day one, Uma’s father goes to fetch them from Kailash, and from the sixth to the tenth day Uma stays with her parents. These four days are the main days of the Puja festival.
The other story is that of the demon Mahishasur, whom no male could vanquish. When Mahishasur turned toward a path of destruction, the Gods got together, pooled all their powers and gave birth to Durga. The Goddess Durga, equipped with ten weapons, or Hathiyaar, which she holds with her ten arms, rode a lion into battle and killed Mahishasur. On the first day of Puja, mantras are recited to invoke the Goddess Durga. From the sixth day onwards, worshipping ceremonies take place each day, and entertainment programs, music and dance with drums, art competitions and fairs are held.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is the importance of the tenth day of this festival?
The last day of the festival is when the Goddess goes back to her home with her children. People carry their idols with much fanfare to the beach or river bank, and give them a farewell by immersing it in water.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
Are there festivals that celebrate goddesses in your culture as well?
Leave us a comment telling us at HindiPod101.com!
And we’ll see you in the next lesson!

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Are there festivals that celebrate goddesses in your culture as well?