Durga Puja By The Thames

By Hazel Last edited 147 months ago
Durga Puja By The Thames

As mentioned before on Londonist, we like holy festivals in this town. It will soon be time to observe the Hindu festival Durga Puja, the biggest festival celebrated annually in West Bengal and now coming to the Thames in Putney.

Durga Puja is for the goddess Durga who ended the reign of the demon Mahishasur and to celebrate her victory, idols of the goddess are specially made and immersed in a river at the end of the festivities. Hindu families in the UK don't normally get to do this with the pomp and circumstance that should attend the event, and certainly aren't encouraged to dip figurines in the Thames without a lot of bureaucracy and visits to the river authorities...

...but this year, Bengal artisans have been invited to the British Museum to build 18ft by 20ft images of the deity (and for those who prefer metric, that's... quite large) and these will be submerged in the Thames at Putney on 2 October. A team of three craftsmen have been working on the idols since 12 August and have even brought hte traditional materials with them in order to create a really authentic item for the festival. On the packing list were: cow dung, jute ropes and mud from the Ganges - the last two items are essential to the process for "purifying." It is not confirmed if Customs at Heathrow agreed with the notion that any cow dung coming off a long-haul flight can still be classified as "purifying", but it was allowed into the country and has been incorporated into the Durga Puja idols. Organic paint has been used in order to minimise pollution of the Thames at the immersion site.

The construction of the idols has been recorded in photographs and it's quite impressive to see how this beautiful and huge idol came into being - seeing it lowered into the Thames is going to be an even more memorable sight. Anyone with a digital camera and a free afternoon to spend hanging around the Thames near Putney, please get in touch: we love a festival and we love photos of festivals even more.

The Durga Puja construction in photographs is available here. For more information about the Durga Puja celebrations in London, go to the London Durga Puja website here.

Last Updated 27 September 2006