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Friday, 26 October, 2001, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Hindus gather for Durga Puja
Hindu goddess Durga
Durga is the deity at the centre of the festival
Hundreds of Hindus are joining together in Cardiff for a feast at the city's India Centre as the community joins others across the world in celebrating Durga Puja.

Friday's colourful event marks the culmination of 10 days of festivities and religious ritual at the Centre in Splott.

Up to 200 of Cardiff's Hindu community have been gathering there each day, in worship of the goddess Durga.

Offerings to Durga
Offerings are placed on a shrine

Daily religious worship at the centre is followed by discussion and debate, and in the evenings, school children have performed traditional entertainments, while the Cardiff community prepares food for all participants.

The festival - which marks the end of the religious year in India - is concerned with looking forward to the future as a "new beginning, full of hope".

President of the Hindu Cultural Association (Wales) Prabhat Kumar described it is a major event in the Hindu calendar.

Calcutta craftsmen

Durga, he explained, possessed of 10 arms with which to keep evil at bay, represents the power of dissolution, and is balanced by the further powers of the goddesses of creation (Saraswati) and sustenance (Laxmi).

Dominating the proceedings on Sanquahar Street is the statue of Durga, which the committee of the Hindu Cultural Association in Wales imported from India.

Craftsmen in Calcutta worked for more than three months to create the piece.

Hindu god Ganesh
Hindu god Ganesh and son of Durga

The India Centre was opened two years ago. Since 1989, committee members had been driving up to 250 miles every Sunday, going from door to door collecting donations from the 8,000 strong Hindu community across south-east Wales.

The Millennium Commission finally came to their aid, ten years later, offering a grant of 320,000.

This enabled the committee finally to build the 600,000 community centre.

Since then, the hard work of the committee's 40 members in organising frequent cultural and religious events has made the building a focus for Hindu families in Cardiff.

Their next event will be "Diwali", or the "Festival of Light", which will be celebrated at the India Centre, Sanquahar Street, Splott on Friday 16 November.

See also:

25 Oct 01 | South Asia
Hindu festival depicts terror attacks
09 Jan 01 | South Asia
Hindu festival goes high-tech
07 Jan 01 | South Asia
Millions flock to Hindu festival
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