Thousands of Hindus were immersed today in the waters of the sacred river Ganges, in a ritual that marks the beginning of the celebrations in honor of Durga, the goddess of the multiple arms very popular in the state of Bengal, in the east of India.
In Bengal, this ritual known as Mahalaya has a special meaning as it marks the beginning of the celebrations that will culminate with its biggest festival, the Durga Puja, on October 14th.
The Bengalis, regardless of their age, social status or gender, woke up before dawn today to perform their prayers and then took a holy bath on the banks of the Ganges to pay homage to their ancestors.
With this ritual, the celebrations of the Durga Puja, a festival that lasts five days and that commemorates the descent of Durga, who lives all year in the paradise of the Himalayas, to the Earth, begins.
On the occasion of the "puja" (adoration), thousands of tents are erected in Calcutta, the capital of Bengal, to house the idol of Durga, which holds the devil under his feet, flanked by several of his sons, among them the elephant god Ganesha, another of the most popular gods of India.
In the scenography, which represents the demiurgic victory of Durga over the forces of evil, the goddess crushes the devil – of human features – while she raises with her ten arms the most varied weapons, which include the arrow and the bow, the sword, the Launches, the trident, the disc and the thunder.
Goddess of strength, fertility and victory, Durga, avatar of Parvati, is the wife of Shiva, who together with Vishnu forms the most popular divine cast of Hindu mythology.