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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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Devī in the Diaspora

Devī in the Diaspora

(p.224) 9 Devī in the Diaspora
Revelry, Rivalry, and Longing for the Goddesses of Bengal

Rachel Fell McDermott

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the Pūjā committees and celebrations of the American diaspora and the transformations occurring in the homes of Bengali immigrants. The chapter asks: to what extent are rivalry, innovation, longing, and linkage of the goddesses with the land of Bengal to be found in contexts outside India? With material derived from nearly thirty visits to Durgā, Jagaddhātrī, and Kālī Pūjās in New York and New Jersey, this chapter illustrates that Durgā and Kālī—and to a lesser extent Jagaddhātrī—appear to be flourishing in their new diasporic contexts in North America. As in India and Bangladesh, so here: the Goddess is a national symbol of what it means to be a Hindu Bengali, and in celebrating her, Bengali devotees proclaim and nourish their own sense of identity.

Keywords:   Pūjā, American diaspora, Bengali immigrants, New York, New Jersey, Hindu Bengali, identity, national symbol

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