Durga in THEMELAND - 5 october 2006
The attempt to package a spiritual experience often finds the goddess getting lost in a crowd of disparate ideas, connected at random without any attention to the religious narrative. Ranabir Lahiri writes on how mass tourism has blurred the line between the fake and the real
The trinketisation of ethnicity and folk culture is widespread in the theming of Durga Puja in Bengal. This cultural addition has been immensely popular to tourists. Nowhere in the world has the sacred space of a people been so thoroughly invaded to turn it into a huge spectacle without origin, without history. There are only multiple themes and motifs that displace the traditional image of Durga. Devi is truly lost in a crowd of disparate themes, connected at random without any attention to the central religious narrative. The theme puja has turned out to be the most subversive of popular cultural practices by foregrounding and commodifying the spectacle.