Devi: The Great Goddess

Devi (in Sanskrit and in English)
HomepageInterpreting Devi
Worshiping Devi
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Kapalisvara temple. Photo by Dick Waghorne.
Festivals
Festivals
Festivals in India are timed according to the lunar month with certain days sacred to particular deities. While Devi is worshiped throughout the year, manifestations of the Great Goddess have specific days dedicated to them. There are also many regional variations in festivals. Goddess festivals in rural areas do not follow any fixed calendrical cycles. During festivals it is common for images of the goddess to be dressed and taken out of the temple for public display and processions, thus allowing darshan for the throngs of people who take part.
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Full image and description.
Kapalisvara temple. Photo by Dick Waghorne.
While celebrated throughout India, in Calcutta the Durga Puja is of enormous significance. During this ten day festival, celebrated in late September or early October, images are created of Durga standing astride the buffalo demon. Made of wood, straw, covered with clay, and then painted in bright colors, Durga is paraded through the streets and at the end of the festival the images are submerged into the Ganges, thus returning Devi to her source. Durga is here worshiped as the warrior goddess, the slayer of the demon. But the timing of her festival to coincide with the harvest also associates her with fertility.
Another popular festival, Divali, is associated with the goddess Lakshmi. She is honored with lighted lamps and fireworks during the north Indian Hindu new year in late autumn. Lakshmi is worshiped by businessmen who understand that without the blessings of the goddess of wealth they will not prosper. Click for full image and description.
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Puja in hall of South Indian temple. Photo by Neil Greentree.
In the countryside where Lakshmi's primary association is with abundance and fertility, her worship during Divali is seen as important to agricultural success. The lighting of lamps invokes the blessings of the goddess and banishes the demon of misfortune.
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