The significance of Ulu Dhwani, a custom followed by Bengali devotees during Durga Puja

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Ulu Dhwani refers to a vocal hooting sound produced by Hindu women in Eastern & Northeastern parts of India and Bangladesh. The distinctive hooting sound is produced by striking both cheeks with tongue while uttering a high pitched howl. It is not a pan-Indian belief, only certain parts of Eastern India still continue to follow this till today, notably the Bengalis and the Oriyas.

It is sounded to bring in auspiciousness and drive out negative vibes. The only place outside India where it is used for the same purpose is North Africa especially in Morocco-Algeria-Tunisia and the surrounding countries.

It is also believed to drive away evil spirits.

For this reason, it is a religious ritual followed in a Bengali functions like Durga Puja and weddings.

Some societies nowadays also organize Ulu dhwani competitions. They are quite entertaining!

The ritual is believed to have originated during the midieval times. When kings used to come victorious from their expeditions, the maids used to greet them with ‘Shankh-dhwani’ i.e. sounds from blowing a conch.
Others who couldn’t get access to conches used to sound similar greetings with their tongues. The vocals thus generated came to be known as ‘Ulu-dhwani’ meaning, a howl-like sound. Some translate it as ‘Applause-sound’.