Night of the Gods


Durga Puja is the most visible annual event in West Bengal. This ethnographic account shows that Durga Puja in the countryside was a very different event from the modern version of the puja, one that symbolized legitimacy and counterposed generous redistribution against the ruthless collection of revenues. The offerings and sacrifices that were integral to the traditional pujas provided communion for the landholding families as well as their dependents in the community.

Among the many features of the puja that are peculiar to Bengal is the notion that autumn is the night of the gods when worship is ‘untimely’, that spring is the proper time for the observance.

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Ralph W. Nicholas

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