Durga Puja

The anticipation has already begun. Durga Puja – the ceremonial worship of the mother goddess, is one of the most important festivals of India. While the rituals entails ten days of fast, feast and worship, the last four days – Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami – are celebrated with much gaiety and grandeur in India and abroad, where the ten-armed goddess riding the lion is worshipped with great passion and devotion. This year’s Durga Puja Festival is now just a matter of few days and one can easily discover the festive mood. It is an extravaganza that unfolds the age old tradition and culture and in contrast it is the time when you can get hold of people in traditional wears.
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Traditional Durga Idol

In Bengal there are more than thousand thematic and colourful pandals in the state and reveals several forms of goddess Durga idols, thus pulling in a huge number of crowds. The festival starts from mahalaya itself wherein schools and colleges are shut for almost half the month for the festival. The excitement and the preparation starts building up from almost a month before the actual festival begins. There are competitions throughout the city of joy for building the most exquisite pandal. There are clubs or samity which brings up the ancient forms of art and replicas of world heritage sites. Likely in 2011 the Ekdalia Evergreen Club Durgatsab Samity represented a theme based on a German village, in 2012 they brought up the Golden Temple in Vellore and in 2013 they kept it simple based on a traditional Indian temple.

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Nalin Sarkar Street Sarbojanin Durgatsab, their theme usually correlates between nature and heritage and their entire pandal and the idol of the Goddesses are made up of assorted pottery work.

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Pandal structure depicting social causes, current events, heritage OR ancient stories  blooming with vivid colours and intrinsic décor
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PROJAPATI AI RONG MELE PAKHNA : Butterfly – Colour of Life” theme

These were the glimpse of few of the well known pandals in Kolkata which shows the kind of innovations they will be bring on the platter. Every year there’s an announcement declaring the best and list down the pandals rank wise. This happens way early so that people can schedule their visits as per convenience and most importantly no one misses out of being uninformed. And to visit these places can be daunting for a person not accustomed, just by seeing the rush. There will be queue for almost 4-5 hour if it’s very famous. Once I got to know there was a queue who were able to see the pratima(idol) only after 11-12 hours and the theme was Harry Potter’s set.

If you thought Durga Puja was just about the puja, you are so wrong! It’s also about khabar dabar (eating lots of really good food, especially fish). Each and every eatery will have huge rush and if it’s a famous place then we have to be in queue for the food as well.

During the sondhi pujo (evening prayer) there will be enthralling session of dhak and dhol. That boosts up the spirit to the peak. This feels like one of the most important piece to the celebrations.

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Devotee playing Dhak

Then there will be pandal hoping throughout the night. Some start their visits at night just to avoid the crowd but many have followed the same suit so no way one can avoid the crowd and once part of the crowd it actually gets even better because it’s nothing without the spirits of the individuals surrounding us.

There’s so much to this vibrant Indian festival, that one can only discover it by being a part of it. From food overload to cultural beauty, it’s one of a kind experience! Would like to know your experience of the festival, you can share it in the comment section.

Shibendu Mukherjee

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