Durga is a Hindu goddess with both maternal and terrible aspects. Often depicted with eight or ten arms, Durga has been worshipped throughout India since at least 400 CE. As the consort of Shiva, some sacred scriptures called the Veda depict her as riding the back of a lion, symbolizing her immense power to confer grace on sincere seekers of God, and conversely, punishment on the ignorant and demon-deluded.
Prior to the annual fall celebration of Durga puja, a Hindu priest may conscript local youngsters to canvass for donations in order to construct an effigy of the goddess. For several days the life-size doll is promulgated throughout cites and towns on a cart, often accompanied with Hindi pop music blaring from a portable sound system. This event epitomizes India’s unique synthesis of the ancient, the sacred and the contemporary.
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