An expression common among Bengali Hindus says baro mase, tero parban, ‘in twelve months there are thirteen festivals.’ While each of these occasions is built around the worship of a particular god or goddess, they are also performances where setting, attire, ornamentation, recitation, music, and sometimes theater are brought together. Thirteen dramatically understates the number of such occasions around the year. Previous books in this series have described and analyzed the axial rituals in the annual cycle in the village of Kelomal, Purba Medinipur, West Bengal. These are the famous Sanskritic Durga Puja, the high point of the autumn in Bengal, and the less well known vernacular spring ritual of Gajan, devoted to Siva.
The present work deals with the great variety of rituals that take place during the remainder of the year, including worship of Sitala, goddess of disease and mother of the village; Manasa, goddess of snakes; Laksmi, embodiment of prosperity dwelling in the rice crop; Krsna, who offers the possibility of liberation; Satya Narayana, who has a Muslim personality as Satya Pir; and the goddesses worshiped by women within the house: Sasthi, goddess of children; the auspicious Mangal Candi; and Bipattarini, who saves people from danger.
2. Hindu Rituals in Bengal
4. The Cycles of Laksmi Worship
5. Dangerous Goddesses
6. Siva, Surya and Dharma
7. Brata Rites: Sasthi, Tarini and Mangal Candi
Ralph W. Nicholas is the William Rainey Harper Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago.