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Revelry, Rivalry, and Longing for the Goddesses of BengalThe Fortunes of Hindu Festivals$
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Rachel Fell McDermott

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231129190

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231129190.001.0001

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Durgā the Daughter

Durgā the Daughter

Folk and Familial Traditions

(p.76) 3 Durgā the Daughter
Revelry, Rivalry, and Longing for the Goddesses of Bengal

Rachel Fell McDermott

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on Durgā and describes the many ways in which she is identified with a little girl, for she is at once the martial demon-slayer and Umā, the humble wife of Śiva, whose festival resonates with details of the mother–daughter relationship as experienced in Bengali cultural history. Umā, Śiva's gentle wife and the daughter of Menakā and Himālaya, stands in for the missed daughters of youth as she evokes real longing. The mother–daughter bond expounds on this nostalgia by associating the “Mother” with “home.” Many urban Bengalis still speak of home as the village of their forebears, even as they ache for the rural, truly “authentic” festivals in remembered villages. In new environments, joining in or even initiating the Pūjā celebrations is one way of adjusting, as these still provoke feelings of bittersweet nostalgic craving.

Keywords:   Pūjā, Umā, Durgā, mother–daughter relationship, home, new environments, Bengali cultural history

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