Durga Puja in Kolkata : A Sneak Peak

Shubho Mahalaya and Happy Navratri to you all Smile

I have decided to take you all through a mini walk through to the Durga Puja’s through my eyes, a true blue Kolkatan who loves the festival of Durga Puja 

Today marks the beginning of a weeklong celebration in Bengal embarking the festivity of the Durga Pujas. Mahalaya is an auspicious occasion which occurs exactly a week ago the Durga Pujas. This day is celebrated to wake the Mother Goddess by reciting mantras to visit us on down below, to the Earth. Come Mahalaya Bengalis in Kolkata and the rest of India rejoice the beginning of celebrations and look forward to make memories with friends and relatives to last them for a year.

Devi Durga

Durga Maa

The festival is focused on the Goddess Durga, the epitome of “shakti and motherly love”. It is believed she emerged from the united consent of the Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh to mark the end of the undefeatable demon Mahishasura. Goddess Durga has various names and forms, but she is an symbol of love and tenderness to her beloved devotees. Let’s welcome her with folded hands and happiness on this auspicious day.  

Enough of history classes, now comes the fun part. So if you haven’t been to Kolkata during the Durga Puja, what are you missing?

Durga Puja Lights

The Streets and the Lights

The streets of Kolkata are a treat to watch during the 4 day period of Sashti, Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami meaning sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth day respectively. The last day or the bidaai day is called Bijoya here in Bengal or Dashami/Dusshera in the rest of India.The entire cirty is well lit up with beautiful colorful lights in all shapes and sizes. The heritage buildings and important crossings are well lit up, making it a worth the watch.

Inside a Pandal

The Idols and the Pandals

All the glam and elan is useless if the artists don’t give shape and life to the sculptures of the iconic Durga idols. Kumartuli in North Kolkata is the hub of such talented and respect worthy artists who bring the idol to life.The idols adorn the massively decorated well lit and elaborately done pandals all around the city. The grandeur, the glam and glitz, the crowd, the streets all speak one word CELEBRATION. The "City of Joy" is embellished and beautified as a bride. The beauty is beyond comparison. The pandal hoppers literally hop skip and jump from one pandal to the other without the sign of tiredness or boredom. I said hop skip and jump because, the number of pandals across the city is no joke. Every 2nd lane, every locality is immersed in puja celbarations. The pandals now-a-days try and portray a theme of their own, either from the mythology, or from some part of the world, or showing a wonder of the world, it is random and it is Beautiful. 

The north Kolkata pandals have their own charm, the traditional touch of those baari pujas, the beautiful Bengali ladies adorned in saris is a sight to watch. Whereas, the south Kolkata is a touch of modernity and diversity. The traditions threaded with edgy designs in the pandal architecture makes a mark of its own. 

If you plan to visit Kolkata during the pujas, you must check out these famous pandals-

North Kolkata

College Square, Ahritola, Mohammad Ali Park, Santosh Mitra Square, Dum Dum Park etc.

South Kolkata

Jodhpur Park, Bosepukur, Badamtala, Tridhara Sammalini, Suruchi Sangha etc.

Durga Puja Pandal Scenes


Few Glimpses of the Durga Puja in Kolkata

The Crowd and the Fair

The evenings and late nights are packed with the citizens and tourists from rest of India to witness the grandness of this special occasion. The beautifully lit up streets, the pandals, the fairs and the people set together the perfect Indian Festival Scene

Beside the huge well lit up pandals a plethora of food stalls, rides, handicraft shops are set up to ensure full involvement of the crowd. My all time favourite ride is the Giant Wheel, which gives the panoramic view of the entire celebration scene. 

The Mouth Watering Kolkata Cuisine

The Food

One thing we can’t forget about any Indian Festival, that’s THE FOOD.

The traditional Bengali food outlets offering finger licking dining experience are Oh! Calcutta in Forum Mall, 6 Ballygunj Place and Bohemian in Ballygunje, Kewpie’s in Bhawanipore, Kasturi in both North and South Kolkata, Bhojohori Manna in Central Calcutta, Arsalan, Zeehsan, Aminia for Biryanis. My personal preference is Oh! Calcutta for its lavishness with a touch of class.

Bengali Thali

These restaurants serve incredible mouth watering Benagli Cuisine.The delicious Bhog (Prasad), the scrumptious Bengali Thali, the mouth watering Biryani, the street food Rolls, Jhaal Muri, Fish Fry, the world famous Kolkata Phuchka, the traditional sweets is simply irreplaceable. 

Durga Puja Traditions

The Culture

The traditional drum beats (dhak) are a treat to the ears. The dhakis with their immense sense of music ensure foot tapping crowd around. The culture of Bengal’s Durga Puja is imbibed in the soul of these dhaks and the beats of the dhakis. I cant stop myself from dancing when a dhaki is playing around, the foot tapping beats of the dhak is magnetic.

Dhunuchi Dance

We have seen some Bollywood movies showcasing the beauty of the dhunuchi dance. What does dhunuchi mean? It is an earthen pot in which dried coconut outer shells are burnt to emit a dense scented smoke which is believed to bring in purity and calmness. The Dhunuchi dance is very famous amongst the bongs here in Kolkata and rest of Bengal. The Bengalis in India showcase the grand culture and heritage of the traditional India through their dhunuchi naach (dance). It is a fun way to show the devotion and love to the mother Goddess by dancing on the beats of the dhak with dhunuchi in hand. I find it pretty amusing to dance with fire and smoke in hand, hats off to the talented people who perform this daring yet beautiful dance.

The Bisharjan


Sidoor Khela on Dashami

Bhashan

The most heart wrenching day has finally arrived to bid adieu to the Mother Goddess. The Dashmi / Bijoya/ Dussehra signify the end of the Durga Puja festivity for that year. Quite interestingly, the married ladies in the neighbourhood dressed up in traditional laal paar sada sari (white sari with red borders) gang up in unison to bid farewell to the mother. They look holy and pure when they play sidoor khela with each other, where they apply sindoor to one another adding to the fun element in the otherwise sad moment.

The idols all over the city are taken in grand processions with the much wanted band, baja and light. These idols are taken to the ganges to be submerged in water to bid goodbye to the Mother Goddess with one promise and tears in the eyes “ Aashche Bochor Abar hobe” (to be repeated next year).

So that’s it folks, hope you enjoyed the post. I am proud to be part of such a culturally versatile city where people are still bound to their roots, yet free enough to touch the sky. I invite you all to come and visit my "City of Joy" to witness the real joy during the Durga Pujas.

Have you witnessed the Durga Puja’s ever? What’s your favourite part?

*all images have been taken from Google

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Until I see you next, never let anything dull your spark.

-Khushi.

 

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