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Modern Depiction of Durga

The worship of Durga (Bengali: Durgapuja) in the autumn (Shôrot) is the year's most major festival in Bengal, Orissa, Tripura and other parts of East India as well as in Bangladesh. Puja means "worship," and Durga's Puja is celebrated from the sixth to tenth day of the waxing moon in the month ofAshshin, which is the sixth month in the Bengali calendar. Occasionally however, due to shifts in the lunar cycle relative to the solar months, it may also be held in the following month, Kartik. In the Gregorian calendar, these dates correspond to the months of September/October.

In the Krittibas Ramayana, Rama invokes the goddess Durga in his battle against Ravana. Although she was traditionally worshipped in the spring, due to contingencies of battle, Rama had to invoke her in the autumn (akaal bodhan). Today it is this Rama's date for the puja that has gained ascendancy, although the spring puja, known as Basanti Puja, is also present in the Hindu almanac. Since the season of the puja is Shôrot (autumn), it is also known as Sharodia.

The pujas are held over a five-day period, which is traditionally viewed as the coming of the married daughter, Durga, to her father, Himalaya's home. It is the most important festival in Bengal, and Bengalis celebrate with new clothes and other gifts, which are worn on the evenings when the family goes out to see the pandals (temporary structures set up to venerate the goddess). Although it is a Hindu festival, many religious groups participate in the ritual.

In Kolkata alone more than a thousand pandals are set up, all clamouring for the fickle attention of the populace. Across the world, Durga Puja serves as a community gathering and a connection to roots for the widespread Bengali diaspora. Tokyo has nearly ten Pujas, and North America has several hundred. Bangladesh, with its 10% Hindu population celebrates the puja in many temples, with more than 100 pujas takes place in the capital Dhaka alone.

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