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Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Khajuraho Worship

India celebrates an autumnal festival known generally as Navaratri, or "nine nights." In Bengal and adjoining areas, including Khajuraho, the festival is known as the Durgapuja, because it is associated with the victory of Durga over Mahishasura. (Mahisha was a demon--an asura--who kept changing shape as Durga slew him. Finally, while riding a lion, she attacked and beheaded Mahisha as a buffalo. That took care of him.) At this time of year, women come by the hundred to the Jagadambi Temple.

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Northern India: Khajuraho Worship picture 1

Early morning is the best time.

Northern India: Khajuraho Worship picture 2

The route is the pradakshina patha, a counter-clockwise circumambulation of the temple, followed by private devotion (bhakti) in the sanctuary.  No priest (pujari) is present.

Northern India: Khajuraho Worship picture 3

Devotees pass through the mandapa and crowd into the garbhagriya or sanctuary.

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Inside, they cluster around a statue of the goddess.

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They take turns bathing her.

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A few minutes later they depart, sprinkling water on flowers.

Northern India: Khajuraho Worship picture 7

A holy man does the same. 

For the pyrotechnics of this holiday in Varanasi, see the file on the Dussehra there.


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