Revelry, Rivalry, and Longing for the Goddesses of Bengal: The Fortunes of Hindu Festivals

Kobo ebook | May 17, 2011

byRachel Fell McDermott

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Annually during the months of autumn, Bengal hosts three interlinked festivals to honor its most important goddesses: Durga, Kali, and Jagaddhatri. While each of these deities possesses a distinct iconography, myth, and character, they are all martial. Durga, Kali, and Jagaddhatri often demand blood sacrifice as part of their worship and offer material and spiritual benefits to their votaries. Richly represented in straw, clay, paint, and decoration, they are similarly displayed in elaborately festooned temples, thronged by thousands of admirers.

The first book to recount the history of these festivals and their revelry, rivalry, and nostalgic power, this volume is an unprecedented achievement, tracing the fascinating development of a major public event. Rachel Fell McDermott describes the festivals' origins and their growth under British rule. She maps their iconographic conventions and carnivalesque qualities and their relationship to the fierce, Tantric sides of ritual practice. She confronts controversies over the tradition of blood sacrifice and the status-seekers who compete for symbolic capital. Expanding her narrative, she takes readers beyond Bengal's borders, watching the transformation of the goddesses and their festivals across the world. McDermott's work underscores the role of holidays in cultural memory, specifically the evocation for Bengalis of an ideal, culturally rich past. Under the thrall of the goddess, the social, political, economic, and religious identity of Bengalis takes shape.

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Annually during the months of autumn, Bengal hosts three interlinked festivals to honor its most important goddesses: Durga, Kali, and Jagaddhatri. While each of these deities possesses a distinct iconography, myth, and character, they are all martial. Durga, Kali, and Jagaddhatri often demand blood sacrifice as part of their worship a...

Rachel Fell McDermott is professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College. Her books include Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal and Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West.

other books by Rachel Fell McDermott

Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal
Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Beng...

Paperback|Dec 15 2000

$31.99 online$61.95list price(save 48%)
see all books by Rachel Fell McDermott
Format:Kobo ebookPublished:May 17, 2011Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023152787X

ISBN - 13:9780231527873

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Read chapter 7, >Approaches to Kali Puja in Bengal. (pdf)

Editorial Reviews

McDermott's Revelry, Rivalry, and Longing is a wonderful book that thoroughly presents the development of three of the most important festivals in Bengal.