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Durga is one of the many forms of Shakti (the goddess), and the wife of Shiva. Her best-known feat was the slaying of the buffalo-demon Mahishasura. Created for this purpose out of flames that issued from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the lesser gods, she was born fully grown and beautiful; nevertheless, she presents a fierce menacing form to her enemies. She is usually depicted in painting and sculpture riding a lion, and with 8 or 10 arms holding special weapons of the gods, who gave them to her to fight the buffalo-demon. Durga-puja, held in September-October, is one of the greatest festivals of northeastern India. A special image of the goddess is worshiped for nine days, then immersed in water, all accomplished with large processions and much public and private festivity. ♣
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