Sunday, October 17, 2010


Today is Dussera or Vijayadashami, the tenth and final day of the celebrations of the victory of good over evil. This is celebrated in very different ways in different parts of the country, with minor variations from house to house. We were fortunate to witness some very lovely celebrations in Bangalore with different families, beginning with the arranging of dolls in an ascending step-like formation by women in the house.
The Goddess of Learning (surrounded by books and implements) forms the base of the array of dolls
This has to do with a legend about how, when demons were ruling the earth, all the gods put their energies together in the form of Shakti (depicted by Durga) in order to kill them. The gods and goddesses stood still as statues and channelized their power to Durga- the fiery goddess whose moves on a lion and who destroyed the demon Mahishasura. This is symbolically recreated by the rows of dolls which are passed on from mother to daughter.

We were also invited to a traditional lunch - a gargantuan meal which we ate off banana leaves on the floor of our yoga classroom.  Before this, many of the older (and a few younger) relatives got together and sang and chanted prayers, a culmination of nine days of singing.  It was the first time we had heard an entire houseful of people singing together and it created a lovely melodious and informal atmosphere.

Food - ready to be served in small buckets
The beginning of a large meal...
The food ends but not the celebrations
Finally -the cooks eat
This is of course just the beginning of festivity- it leads on to Diwali or Deepavali, the festival of lights, next month.

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