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     Volume 7 Issue 41 | October 17, 2008 |

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Photo Feature

Ululating through the Streets of Dhaka

Photos: Zahedul I Khan

Life in Dhaka is stressful. Heat, traffic jams, price spiralling and various other factors bog down on people's everyday lives. Two of the biggest back-to-back religious festivities of the country were the perfect break everyone needed to get their spirits up. Puja this year was huge and colourful. According to a government report, there were 22,000 Puja mandaps throughout the country this year. Hindus began the five-day long festival to mark goddess Durga's victory over the evil force of Mahishashur. Bakshibazar, Shankharibazar, Tantibazar, Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University, Ramna Kali Mandir, Dhakeswari Mandir, Thataribazar, Ramkrishna Mission, Pranab Math, Siddeswari Kali Mandir, Dayaganj, Rayerbazar, Rajarbagh, Rishipara were a few of the prominent mandaps that wore a festive look this year. Extra lawenforcement forces were deployed around the venues to ensure security during the festivities. This was the first time a Puja programme was organised in Gulshan area . Through a private initiative, and without any corporate sponsors it was one of the biggest Puja gatherings of the country. What was amazing about this gathering was the huge amount of contribution and participation from the Muslim community. There was music from noted musicians and artists.

Hinduism is the second largest religious affiliation in Bangladesh. In terms of population, Bangladesh is the third largest Hindu state of the world after India and Nepal.

Bangladeshi Hinduism closely resembles the forms and customs of Hinduism practised in West Bengal. Durga, in Sanskrit means 'She who is incomprehensible or difficult to reach'. Goddess Durga is a form of Sakti worshiped for her gracious as well as terrifying aspect. Mother of the Universe, she represents the infinite power of the universe and is a symbol of a female dynamism. The manifestation of Goddess Durga is said to emerge from Her formless essence and the two are inseparable. She is also called by many other names, such as Parvati, Ambika, and Kali. In the form of Parvati, She is known as the divine spouse of Lord Shiva and is the mother of her two sons, Ganesha and Karttikeya, and daughter Jyoti. Destroyer of demons, she is worshiped during Durga puja. Vishnu worship in Bengal expresses the union of the male and female principles in a tradition of love and devotion.

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