The Lowland

The Lowland

by

Jhumpa Lahiri

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Lowland can help.
Durga Symbol Icon

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.

Get the entire The Lowland LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Lowland PDF

Durga Symbol Timeline in The Lowland

The timeline below shows where the symbol Durga appears in The Lowland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 4
Political and Personal Violence Theme Icon
Duty and Desire Theme Icon
Heritage and Homeland Theme Icon
Presence in Absence Theme Icon
...flooded with memories of Calcutta as he realizes the holiday celebrating the many-armed warrior goddess Durga is taking place there right now. For the past two years, his parents have sent... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 2
Political and Personal Violence Theme Icon
Secrets and Conspiracies Theme Icon
Presence in Absence Theme Icon
The narrative flashes back to the night of Udayan’s death. It is the week before Durga Pujo in Calcutta, and Bijoli and Gauri have hired a rickshaw to take them home... (full context)
Political and Personal Violence Theme Icon
Presence in Absence Theme Icon
...and secluded. As the festival ends, the people of Calcutta bid farewell to the goddess Durga, chanting prayers for her return the next year. (full context)
Part 7, Chapter 6
Heritage and Homeland Theme Icon
...streets, which are more populous and more developed than when she left. Additionally, it is Durga Pujo—the city’s most anticipated festival—and so people and vendors line the streets. Temporary structures built... (full context)