Thursday, September 29, 2011

Durga Puja(Sharadiya Navratri) In North East India

A Very Happy Durga Puja (Navratras) To All Of You .
Sharad Navratri is widely celebrated in different ways throughout the India.In Sanskrit the word Navratri means nine nights.In the North East part of India it is celebrated as Durga -Puja.The dates of Durga Puja celebrations are set according to the traditional Hindu Calendar in the month of Ashwin which is the beginning of the winters.It falls in the months of Sep -Oct.As Durga Puja represents celebration of the Goddess as Shakti ,all her nine different forms are worshipped during these nine days.I would like to share my experiences on how i have been celebrating Durga-Puja all these years living in three different states of North -East( Assam,Arunachal-Pradesh and Meghalaya).With its religious significance this festival
has turned into a huge socio cultural event here.People participate in this celebration irrespective of their religion,backgrounds and beliefs.
You know the Puja is near when you find these Kumars (potters) engaged in making the clay images of the ten handed Goddess that we all worship later.The tradition of clay image making in India is as old as from 18 th century.The above picture is of Lachit Nagar area ,it is the hub of this art here in Guwahati. This job is very hard , lengthy and back breaking .The artist hardly noticed me when i clicked this picture.At a later stage these idols are decorated with beautiful clothes and jewellery.Beautiful pandals are build in different areas of the city(pandals are temporary structure made with bamboo and cloth ,these pandals are used as temporary temple to worship the goddess).While some of the pandals are simple structures, others are often elaborate works of art with themes that are based on history, current affairs and sometimes pure imagination.Pujas are mainly financed by the local people and communities, now a days we see some corporate houses coming forward as sponsors .In many part of Assam and other neighboring states the festival is celebrated in community prayer halls or Naamghar too.


The shops and malls are fully packed up from twenty to twenty five days from the festival as people shop for new clothes for themselves and their relatives.Lot of gift exchanges happens amongst friend and relatives during this time of the year.The festival starts with Mahalaya ,it is the day of invocation of the goddess to ward of evil from this earth.She is invoked by the chants of mantras and other devotional songs.We also pray and pay homage to our ancestors on this day.It is on the sixth day or Mahasashthi that the idols are inaugurated on pandals.It is said that Goddess arrives on this day to Earth accompanied by her children.Amongst the chanting and beats of drum the face of the Goddess is unveiled this day.The main puja takes place on 7th,8th and 9th day which are called Mahasaptami,Mahashtami and Mahanavami.
The above picture is of a Naamghar which has been celebrating the festival since 1935.The picture below shows the unvieled faces of the Goddess and the other Gods which are Ganesha,Laxmi, Saraswati,Kartika.You can see the very familiar pose of Ma Durga unleashing her wrath on Mahishasura a demon .It signifies the victory of good over evil.
Expert priests are appointed to perform the rituals as the whole process is very detailed and complicated.Now the next three days consists of chanting of mantras,shlokas ,aarati and offerings.Red being the favorite color of the Goddess ,one finds the head priest always dressed up in red.On the 7thday  Mahasaptami before the dawn nine types of plants are worshipped as a symbol of ma Durga.These nine plants are of Banana, Cola-cassia,Turmeric,Wood Apple,Jayanti,Pomegranate,Arum,Rice and Ashoka.A tree is dressed up as the goddess and is installed besides the gods and is worshipped.
As the priest continue with their rituals,crowd starts gathering up at the venue for offering their prayers. A welcome speech by the organizers announces the timings of different rituals and other cultural events .Durga is worshiped in the form of cosmic knowledge -Mahasaraswati.
Traditional drummers are called from nearby villages/areas. They are an integral part of puja.The beautiful images ,the sound of sankha(conch shell)the chanting of mantras,beating drums , the smell of scented flowers and incense sticks add a lot of charm to the rituals. Inside the hall/pandal ladies gather to sing durga-naam( devotional songs for the goddess). The whole community becomes one family during this festival. During evening hours aarti is performed-it is one of the main attraction as the priest offers the light from the wicks soaked in ghee to the deity in a rhythmic dance like manner .The drummers play the drums non stop throughout the aarti.Aaarti is done in the spirit of humility and gratitude.It symbolizes five elements,earth,wind,fire,water and ether.
On the 8th day or Maha-ashtami ,devotees gather again to offer pushpanjali (flower-offerings).Kumari puja is performed where little girls are worshipped at the goddess.Important sandi puja is performed later to interlink ashtami and navami .
It is also the time when we prepare Boloy,a yellow colored holy wrist band made of cloth which contains rice grains,mustard seeds,aparajita leaves and durva.Boloys are distributed on the day of Dasahami amongst the devotees. You can see yellow cloth and the ingredients that are used in making of a Boloy. On morning hrs outside the pandals/prayer halls one can notice many stalls where ladies group sell their home made sweets ,clothes and other handicrafts. To encourage the young kids for more active participation various competitions are held .After aarti and prasad distribution people enjoy cultural evenings.Evening also includes visiting various pandals of the city/town. The 9th day or Mahanavami is the concluding day of puja.As usual chanting of mantras and puja is offered to the goddess.A bhog is offered to the goddess which is later distributed amongst the devotees.Another attractive feature of puja is Khichuri prasad on the day of navami .It is a dish made with a mixture of various lentils and rice grains. Dashami or the 10th day is the day when the devotees bid a tearful farewell to the goddess.It is a very highly emotional day for all. Goddess is prepared for her departure -- sound of drums,chants,devotional songs and offerings of flowers and the rice grains are showered at the images.

As the goddess is finally lifted the roaring sound of Durga Ma Ki Jai almost deafens ones ears.Moist eyes are norm .Finally the idols are carried in a procession around the locality and immersed in a nearby river or pond.Devotees bid her farewell with an invitation to come back again the next year. With tearful eyes and songs we say goodbye to her !

  Will be away for two weeks from blogger as i am visiting my mom and my brother's family .Until then Happy Blogging .

Related Link : do check this link if interested to know more on Durga Puja  Evolution Of Durga Puja

90 comments:

  1. Excellent description and beautiful pictures.

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  2. HAPPY NAVARATRI....

    Have a nice time during your stay there....!!!

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  3. Happy Durga Pooja and happy navratri to you
    and everyone in the family and everyone around you.. Have a fabulous Festive season ..

    Bikram's

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  4. I have 2 questions that might seem stupid to you:

    1. Why do Hindu goddesses have so many hands?

    2. Why are there no statues of men in Hindu ceremonies? In Roman Catholic cathedrals, you will find statues of Jesus as well as statues of the Virgin Mary, his mother. And there are often statues of male saints inside the church, too.

    Happy vacation, Kavita!

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  5. A very happy Durga Puja to you and your family Kavita! What a vivid and vivacious account of the festive season! Wonderful! :)

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  6. I've never been in Kolkata during Durga Puja. And this post was so lovely and informative, it felt like I was taking part.... Thank you !

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  7. Amrit ,Irfan ,Bikram ,Gigi,Shilpa ,Suranga thanks a lot to all of you.
    @GIGI : Interesting questions :):)
    1:Image worship crept almost imperceptibly into Indian religions and was not only finally sanctioned in the religious scriptures but the images themselves, and the rituals for their worship were also described in greater detail. One of the results of this process, more especially the merging of two or more deities, was that some of the gods were shown as having several qualities. The visual problem that this created for the sculptor or artist when he made images of the gods was solved by Showing them with several hands. Each hand would hold some object which would symbolize or represent the various qualities of that particular deity. Some of the hands would be empty but the position of the fingers and the palms would signify the character of that god. For example, if the fingers are pointing towards the ground, it means that the god is of a charitable whereas the fingers pointing upwards, as in a blessing, signify a protector (see illustration). These gestures mudras symbolized their individual powers and differentiated them from other deities.(info courtesy :history of Hinduism).
    2 : We do have Male Gods(Vishnu ,Shiva ,Viswakarma) idols in our ceremonies .If you click enlarge the first picture you will see Ganesha who fulfils all desires and Kartikeya, the god of war and purity.

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  8. Happy durga puja to you kavita, I've always wanted to visit kolkata during durga puja days, but it hasn't happened thus far. This post of yours with the detailed account if the events has piqued my excitement further... :-)
    The little girls for the kumari pooja, look so adorable...too cute

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  9. Kavita Ba,Wishing you and your family a very happy Navaratri & Durga Puja.
    Nice to read your post and beautiful photographs.Thanks.

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  10. a very happy durga puja to you. I always love to see how they make the idols. When I was a kid, I used to see a lot of Ganesh Idols being made. but they were small ones - a foot or 2 at the most. because the material used was harmful for lungs, or so they said maybe thinking that we may end up breaking the idols never gave us an opportunity to see the actual process. I did see how they coloured them though, and even coloured a few of them myself :)

    each and every click is amazing, best one is the one with maa durga faces. it captures the details too well.

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  11. Wonderful write up on the celebrations and excellent images.

    Happy Durga pooja.

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  12. Thanks for the information, Kavita! That clears up the fog in my mind. lol.

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  13. very well..each paragraph I read very carefully Cuz I am also unaware of many things in-spite of being an Indian...
    very nicely explained and at the same time GIGI asked was a very good question..through which I also came to know the significance and reality of the deities.
    My dad had stayed in Durgapur ...he was in Services (Director R&D institute)and was stationed there..during his term he had clicked many pictures through which I had some idea...But this was worth sharing..
    thanks.

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  14. Happy Pujo, Kavita! :D
    every post of yours makes me feel am wasting my time in Bombay! sigh.
    hope you and your loved ones have a fun-filled festive time ahead :) and thanks for the lovely pics and info as always.

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  15. such a privilege to attend through your kindness, Kavita!



    Warm Aloha from Waikiki;

    Comfort Spiral


    > < } } ( ° >



    ><}}(°>

    < ° ) } } > <

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  16. Durga Puja was always my favorite time during my stay in Assam and Calcutta.
    Such a well written piece on the significance of the puja and the pictures too are really good.
    Have a great time meeting and spending time with your family.
    Happy Durga Puja!

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  17. Happy Durga Pooja and enjoy the celebrations and great food.

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  18. You and your family a very happy Navaratri & Durga Puja!Thanks, for this beautiful photographs and brilliant post!

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  19. beautiful post with lovely pictures and informative commentary!
    wonderful!

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

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  20. Happy vijayadashmi to you and to all your readers.

    Loved the post.....

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  21. Beautiful pictures and detailed description of the festival is always your plus point, Kavita!

    I always felt that Keralites and Bengalis resemble each other in many ways. Your rituals nearly resemble Bengalis', isn't it? I noticed the cream coloured sarees for festivals and important occasions. The Keralites too follow this!

    Thanks for all the detailed information, Kavita!

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  22. kavita aapko bhi durga pooja ki bahut-bahut shubhkamnaen...post bhi astha aur shraddha se bhari hui hai.

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  23. fascinating ceremonies reminds me of when i was in brazil in 1970s and attended a similiar ceremony with goddess mary of bible who was also a mermaid and they carried her to the sea at the last of the ceremonies and she float out with bottles of wishes thrown after her... thanks for sharing and have a good vacation.

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  24. ceremonies very different ar first sight what we have here. But if one have a deeper look all over the world people celebrate in certain points the same way.
    Scary a bit those "heads":)

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  25. Nice narration. Happy Durga Puja. Have a nice time with mom. My pranams as well.

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  26. Awesome. Thanks for sharing such a nice pictures.

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  27. wow....nice to read about durga pujo is NE..though i do know its celebrated in big way there....got to know how via ur pujo...
    tomakeo sharodiyo shubheccha!!

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.com

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  28. Happy Durga Puja :)
    Thanks for sharing those lovely pics and so much information on the festival!

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  29. Another lovely post. I like how you just add to your words with the pictures. And add to your pictures with the words. Enjoy the time away. With family. Travel safe. Take LOTS of pictures..!!

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  30. Another lovely post. I like how you just add to your words with the pictures. And add to your pictures with the words. Enjoy the time away. With family. Travel safe. Take LOTS of pictures..!!

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  31. A colorful and breathtaking celebration …that will catch your attention every year…
    You have an elaborate description over here….

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  32. The whole journey and different facets of the festival have been beautifully captured. Happy Durga Puja.

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  33. K, a colourful post as ever.
    Do enjoy the festivities and may the spirit of Navarathri have nine fold bearing on your life.

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  34. Happy Durga puja to you. Bengali friends in college would take 10 days off and go home to celebrate Durga puja, whoever stays back would crib and complain.

    Excellent pictures along with description. Enjoy your holidays,

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  35. º° ✿
    ♥ °
    Amiga,
    É bom saber um pouco sobre essas festividades. As fotos estão excelentes.
    Bom fim de semana!
    Beijinhos.
    Brasilº° ✿
    ✿♥ °

    ..(░)(░)
    (░)(♥)(░)
    ..(░)(░)

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  36. I hope you have a safe and happy trip. Amazing post, informative as usual. Thanks for sharing. I always learn so much when I visit your room.

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  37. Just like the Ganpati celebrations!! Such a wonderful post, this shows us the color of the festival right from the start to the end...
    Such beautiful pandal, India is truly is land of festivals...
    Have a Happy Break Kavita:)

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  38. Can so understand the moist eyes part. I feel such a void for days after we have sent Ganesha home.
    Beautiful post as usual Kavita :)

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  39. Oh and wishing u a very happy Navratri! Maa bless u all :)

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  40. You are so thorough, aren't you? :-)
    Reading the post was like watching a slideshow. Excellent!

    Long ago I was in Siliguri during the Puja. I am averse to crowds, noise, hysteria and commercialization which are the hallmarks of our religious festivals these days.

    Happy Pooja and holidays, Kavita!

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  41. nice! always liked the making process a lot!

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  42. Gorgeous pictures of Durga Puja with lovely description. Wish you and your family a very Happy Durga Puja.

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  43. as usual...well written and picturized post.... i always get something from your posts about indian cities and places and the religion and festivals... :) thanks for posting and have a nice time...

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  44. This sounds like a very nice festival. I like your description of the ceremonies and the pictures are very colorful. Thanks for sharing this and I enjoyed it very much.

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  45. How wonderful, such great images, many thanks for such an interesting and informative post, I loved learning about this festive season.

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  46. Lovely post Kavita. Hope you are back now packed with energy and imaginations for more such posts. May Durga Maa's blessings be always with you and your adorable family.

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  47. Durga puja is always such a pleasure and your post describes it so beautifully.Shubho bijoya as said after Pujo gets over and as i land up on this post after puja endings.
    And the images are chosen very well. :)

    Alcina
    http://reigningwanderer.blogspot.com/

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  48. ♥ •˚。
    °°Olá, amiga! 。♥。
    ● ♥•
    ˚。˚ Boa semana!
    ♥ •˚。Beijinhos.
    •˚。Brasil
    ..(░)(░)
    (░)(♥)(░)
    ..(░)(░)

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  49. woww. awesome yar..belated greetings kavi...know what? had been to the Bangali assn puja in dubai with a dear friend..and rememberd u...tc..

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  50. OH MY GOD -- the pic of the heads!!

    lovely write-up Kavita

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  51. Thank you so much for this wonderful post, Kavita. I love how you take us to your country and explain how the traditions are celebrated. I feel like I was right there with you.

    Our banker, Muneera is from India and I told her about you and how much I am able to learn from you.

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  52. Wonderful collection. You 've also narrated it well.

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  53. A lovely post with pictures so delicately interwoven!

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  54. bom dia kavita
    deve ser uma emoção unica participar dessa festa,amo essa festas religiosas.
    querida o seu país è maravilhoso com sua historia e sua religiosidade.
    um dia ainda quero conhecer!1
    você conhece a Itália???

    bacione

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  55. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such lovely birthday wishes. That really means a lot. Cake will be ready when you get here!

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  56. more posts please, Kavita! :-)

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  57. Gosh, how interesting--your culture, so different. And yet, are not we all so much similar to one another?

    Thanks for dropping by tonight. I thought this post looked familiar, now I see...dated September 29!!!

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  58. no new updates....busy with festivals...????

    BTW, Happy Diwali :D

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  59. Nice article but a long time ago, are you not blogging anymore?

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  60. Wish you a very Happy Diwali.

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  61. Hi

    Dropped by accidentally. And what a treat it was to read your post.Great set of photographs and wonderful vivid descriptions.Pl do visit my blog,

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  62. आपके पोस्ट पर आना बहुत अच्छा लगा । मेरे पोस्ट पर आपका स्वागत है । दीपावली की शुभकामनाएं ।

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  63. Thanks for sharing.
    Happy Durga Pooja and navratri....

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  64. happy Diwali Kavita..dint see you for long..
    hope everything is good!

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  65. Thought of you at my dental check up today, Kavita

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  66. Wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali and a Joyful New Year:)
    Looking forward to your posts this new year:)

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  67. °º♫
    °º✿
    º° ✿♥ ♫° ·.
    Amiga, boa semana!
    Beijinhos.
    Brasil.°º♫
    °º✿
    º° ✿♥ ♫° ·.

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  68. sorry dr ji.i could not be in touch for sometime..otherwise gr8 frinds like u r always in my mind...sure u doing well..stay connected n keep the cheers..wishes always u r a wonderful friend

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  69. Kavita,

    I have been irregular but do make efforts to visit as and when I can. Thanks for wishes and such informative write up. May God bless you.

    Take care

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  70. ♡°
    º✿
    º° ✿✿♡°
    Olá, amiga!

    Bom fim de semana.
    Beijinhos.
    Brasil
    º✿
    º° ✿✿♡°

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  71. I want to thank you for your prayers and comments.

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  72. The pics took me on a journey :)

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  73. hey boss..waiting 2 c yr next post..for so long...cheers n wishes always

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  74. belated wishes for durga pooja

    nice visual treat to our eyes

    well captured photos...

    thanks

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  75. Thanks a lot to all of you :)

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  76. So, you're back. I just arrived too.

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  77. you havent written anything yet? hm

    well, you know you've changed your display pic & i couldn't recognize you on my blog! i am so used to you with the shades & that particular hair cut & all

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  78. Hi Just happened to be surfing & dropped in. Wonderful series of pics on Durga Puja. Conveys the flavor of the festival so beautifully. Pl visit my blog at your convenience.

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  79. I knew Durga puja was very big and elaborately celebrated in the North. I never knew the details though. Thanks to you, I now know! In the South, there is a relatively quiet Navarathri celebrated by Brahmins where they have Golu - Display of idols and crafts on various handmade steps. But I am not very familiar with the rituals though! I used to go mainly for the sundal and vada which were distributed generously to all kids, back then! :)

    Destination Infinity

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  80. Nice pictures...
    Greetings from france,

    Pierre

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  81. Hi Kavita,
    This was a wonderful post and I truly enjoyed it!
    Thank you!

    Thinking of you tonight and visiting as I've missed you.
    Have not been doing much visiting lately as not feeling so well and very busy too!

    Take care and be well...

    Margie x

    P.S The new profile picture is so beautiful!

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  82. Kavita,

    No post or visit for more than a month. Hope all is well.

    Take care

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  83. º°❤
    Olá, amiga!

    Boa semana!
    Beijinhos. º° ✿
    ♫° Brasil
    ·.♪
    ❤♥

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  84. oh my god......it's so eloborate...loved pics..

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