Focusing on colonial Calcutta in the later decades of the nineteenth century, this essay explores the evolution of a particular festival, the Durga Puja, to explore the ways in which religion negotiated its place in the ideological determinants of modernity. The essay surveys the evolution of the goddess Durga from premodern times and shows why and how the perception of both the deity (in gender terms) and the festival (in historical terms) had to be recalibrated following the imperatives of new classes and new discursive parameters. While the essay interrogates the development of new particular categories introduced by modernity, such as urban spatiality and the rhetoric of individual rights in colonial Calcutta, it also aligns these developments to answer the general paradigmatic question of the actual relationship between religion/faith and the modern moment.

You do not currently have access to this content.