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Monday, September 28, 2009

Paying Homage to Durga in Jakarta

Sept. 28 (Jakarta Globe) The Temple of Shiva in Pluit, West Jakarta, has been a riot of color, sound and incense for the past five days as Indians living in the Indonesian capital gathered to celebrate Durga Puja, an annual festival to honor the Hindu goddess.

The festival, which finished on Monday, is the major event in the calendar of the Jakarta Bengali Association, which celebrated its 25-year anniversary in 2008.

Association president Madhu Adya said Durga, the wife of Shiva, was invoked to protect from evil.

“In Hinduism, we say the female consort always depicts the power,” she said.

A priest from Calcutta officiated over the events, leading those gathered as they recited verses in Sanskrit. Saturday was the most important day of the festival, with the Indian ambassador to Indonesia, Viren Nanda, joining a crowd of 200 in their finest saris and tunics to pay homage to an icon of Durga.

Adya said that on the last day of the puja (worship) in India, the Durga icon would be taken to the sacred River Ganges and immersed.

“Here we take it to Ancol and immerse it in the sea,” she said, referring to a smaller clay version of the icon at the local festival.

In addition to the religious aspect, the festival had a strong cultural component with drawing and coloring contests for children as well as recitals and musical performances. Traditional dishes were also prepared by the community to be shared by guests following the worship each day.

“Back in India, you have special editions of magazines and books to celebrate the event,” Adya said.

“It’s very typical of the Eastern side of India.”

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