Durga is a major Hindu Goddess. Puja is a word for any kind of ceremonial worship. But in Kolkata, India, the Durga Puja has a history of being as much or more about public display and festivities, going on for a period of ten days around late September and early October. UNESCO inscribed Kolkata’s Durga Puja into its list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, in December 2021. Our reporter in Kolkata, Kalpana Pradhan, conducted interviews about Durga Puja for WINGS. She found it started out as a private display for Indian elites and their colonizers, then became a public celebration for everyone. Recently, organizations and political parties have been laying claim to festivities – and feminists have claimed women’s rights to be celebrants of this powerful goddess, whose powers include the destruction of all evil.
Featured speakers: Social scientist Dr Bula Bhadra; Dr Ruby Sain, professor of the Centre for the study of Religion and Society; and, Sanskrit professor and woman priest Nandini Bhowmick.
The Women’s International News Gathering Service (WINGS) has been working with women around the world since 1986 to cover the global women’s movement and related issues for community radio. WINGS may be contacted at [email protected]