KOLKATA, INDIA, October 19, 2018 (Religion News Service): Every year, Durga Puja is celebrated across India during the seventh month of the Hindu calendar, marking the victory of female power over the buffalo-demon Mahishasura. Durga Puja festivities, which took place this week, overlap with the nine-night Navaratri, also celebrating the divine feminine, in other traditions of Hinduism. But while worship of the 10-armed Goddess is primarily a religious occasion across most of the Indian subcontinent, in the state of West Bengal it is much more than that, a high point of the year that is seen as an expression and celebration of the once-dominant Bengali culture.
Kolkata, the cultural capital of Bengal, celebrates the five main days of the festival with fervor. Preparations for the carnival start months in advance, with artists and artisans vying to create the most innovative art works from scrap, recycled products and homespun ideas. Statues of the Goddess astride a lion are placed at elaborately designed pandals, where the art inside covers serious issues -- trafficking of women, child labor at tea shops or the plastic surgery obsession among young adults or scenes straight out of Bollywood movies. The elegance of Kolkata's Durga Puja also lies in the depictions of the Goddess in her many avatars transforming the city into a massive open-air art gallery with a profusion of themes.
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