Ute Hüsken, Vasudha Narayanan, and Astrid Zotter

Dec 9, 2021

Nine Nights of Power

Durgā, Dolls, and Darbārs

SUNY Press 2021

The autumnal Navarātri festival—also called Durgā Pūjā, Dassehra, or Dasain—is the most important Hindu festival in South Asia and wherever Hindus settle. A nine-night-long celebration in honor of the goddess Durgā, it ends on the tenth day with a celebration called “the victorious tenth” (vijayadaśamī). The rituals that take place in domestic, royal, and public spaces are closely connected with one’s station in life and dependent on social status, economic class, caste, and gender issues. 

Exploring different aspects of the festival as celebrated in diverse regions of South Asia and in the South Asian diaspora, Ute Hüsken, Vasudha Narayanan and Astrid Zotter's Nine Nights of Power: Durgā, Dolls, and Darbārs (SUNY Press, 2021) addresses the following common questions: What does this festival do? What does it achieve, and how? Why and in what way does it sometimes fail? How do mass communication and social media increase participation in and contribute to the changing nature of the festival? The contributors address these questions from multiple perspectives and discuss issues of agency, authority, ritual efficacy, change, appropriation, and adaptation. Because of the festival’s reach beyond its diverse celebrations in South Asia, its influence can be seen in the rituals and dances in many parts of Western Europe and North America.

Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.

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