Durga is a Hindu warrior goddess who, throughout Hindu mythology, combats evil and demonic forces that threaten peace and prosperity. She has many arms, each of which carries a different weapon. Durga has a significant following throughout India, but her influence is particularly felt in the country’s eastern states—including West Bengal, where The Lowland is set. The autumnal festival in her name, Durga Pujo, is celebrated yearly throughout West Bengal, and, as the novel progresses, the citizens of Calcutta’s reverence for the goddess comes to symbolize their desire for the return of peace, prosperity, and goodwill to their ideologically torn province.
As the Naxalite rebellion takes hold of West Bengal and violence, terrorism, and distrust clog the streets of Calcutta, the looming presence of Durga—and her yearly return—represents the hope that the discord will soon cease. Later in the novel—as the political violence in Calcutta infiltrates the Mitra family and a legacy of personal violence threatens to take over their lives—Durga Pujo offers Subhash and Gauri both a glimmer of hope that peace and prosperity will return to them, as well as a painful reminder of the emotional violence and discord they may never manage to escape.