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Four-day Hindu Festival To Draw Thousands

The goddess Durga is the centerpiece of the Hindu festival expected to last until Oct. 17.

If you drive by the India Community Center for the next few days, you will see tents, booths and Hindus from the Bay Area garbed in traditional wear to honor a cherished ritual that has lasted over time—and spanned continents.

Many states in India celebrate Durga Puja, a worship of the goddess of divine power against all evils. Although you may not worship her, it may be worth a trip to visit the stage to see her and her family: Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh, Kartikeya and Shiva. The schedule is posted here. In some states in India, the festival can spread out over five or six days.

"The idols of the god and goddess have been imported from India," said Bibek Das of Pashchimi, an organizer of the event. The 6-year-old nonprofit, Pashchimi, has made the four-day event free to the public (even if the website says otherwise).

This year, there are 18 booths offering beauty products, jewelry, books from West Bengal and, of course, food. There are five food vendors serving both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine. You'll also find Bank of America, a first time participant, looking to reach the Asian Indians in Silicon Valley.

And there will indeed be a lot of Asian Indians stopping by. Organziers expect a crowd of 6,000 to 7,000 from all across the Bay Area. The last day of the festivities will be Oct. 17.

A senior couple who moved to the United States 20 years ago from India said they like the way the rituals were performed. Debajit Banerjee, who has been in the U.S. for only six months, echoed their sentiments. "It is exactly the way we perform in India," he said. "It makes you feel you are in your state."

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