Thousands of devotees thronged puja
pandals on Tuesday to make offerings on Mahashtami - the third of the five-day
Durga Puja festival - and participate in the worship of pre-pubescent girls.
People chanted hymns and offered anjali (prayer),
making long queues before idols of the goddess Durga.
The worship of young girls as the 'Mother
Goddess', called Kumari Puja, is an integral part of Mahashtami. The ritual
attracted hundreds of devotees to Belur Math - the global headquarters of the
Ramakrishna Math and Mission - in Kolkata's twin district Howrah.