Saturday, 22 October 2016

Exploring the greatest festival of West Bengal ~ Durga Puja

After missing Durga Puja for five consecutive years, this year I have been fortunate enough to visit my home during the pujas. Nowadays even though there are numerous Durga Pujas being held in Bangalore by the various Bengalee Associations,and their number and grandeur increasing every year, still its a pain to be away from home and family specially during the puja days.

This year there were 5000 Durga Pujas celebrated in Kolkata itself! The preparation for the next year's celebration starts atleast from 6 months ahead. The artisans or the modern day 'Michelangelo's of Kumartuli who are renowned idol makers start creating the idols using substances as ordinary ad hay and clay. The associations who wish to have their idols in a specific theme must submit their blueprint sketch before the idol making begins.

Atleast a month before the Pujas the major pandal work starts.Mostly no two pandals are same and a lot of the pandals are theme based or each have its own USP to pull crowd. The Puja committees decide on a particular theme whose elements are incorporated in the pandal decoration and design.

When there is festivity in the air, how can the common people be far behind. Places such as Gariahat and Esplanade which are popular shopping destinations in Kolkata throng and jostle with people. The festival is also the time when one gifts dresses to oneself, family, friends and also to people working for you such as maid, cauffeur etc so people start their shopping one to two months in advance.

This year the festivities also started pretty early, since people started celebrating from 4/5 days before the actual puja started. I went out to do some of my shopping on 'Tritiya' which is 4 days before 'Sosthi' ( the day Durga Puja starts) and I saw several groups of people comprising of either families or friends already out doing pandal hopping !! I remember when I was small we used to start our puja celebrations from 'Sosti' till 'Doshomi' or the last day when the idol is immersed in water. Every year I used to get around 10 to 12 new clothes for the five day durga puja. Some were gifted and some bought by parents. One new set of clothing to be worn in the morning for anjali and another for evening pandal hopping. Now many years have passed and people have also become smart. To prolong the joy and happiness of Durga Puja, people start their festivity 4 to 5 days in advance. Its actually makes very good sense, once 'Doshomi' comes the puja is over for a year, so why not increase the count of days by adding some more days to the puja.

Previously when I was in school I used to do pandal hopping every day, and each day with a different group.Some days with school friends, or tuition friends , drawing school friends or with friends from my locality.Some days with just family or best friend. But now I am super lazy, two days of  hopping to select pandals is enough to make me cry for rest for the remaining days.

I visited some of the well known pujas and pandals in south Kolkata and was really smitten by their beauty and awesomeness. The pandals, decorations the light works and the idols are mindblowing. Though I am sharing some photos that I took,but believe me its just the tip of the iceberg. One have to go and see for oneself the biggest puja and greatest grandeur on earth- The Durga Puja.

Well a piece of info to pass on to you....from this year the chief minister of West Bengal MS Mamata Banerjee has started the Durga Puja Carnival on Red Road. This took place on the last day of Durga Puja ie 'Vijaya Dashami'. With more than 50 well renowned puja committees taking part in the carnival it was a sight to behold. The number and the grandness will only increase in the coming years.

A Durga idol some pandal

Another idol in another pandal

Another idol...indeed a very beautiful one

Pandal decoration

Sheer magnificience !!

selfie time

Hawkers outside a pandal

A pandal made in a South Indian temple theme

Notice the huge chandelier

The Goddess with her children

Drummer and the iconic yellow taxi

A pandal based on bullock cart theme

Pandal decorations

Another beautiful idol

A little close up

The demon

Such heavenly beauty

Ma Durga

Pandal hoppers at 3 am

Another pandal

Another Ma Durga idol

Ma Durga

Its me and my sister during the pujas

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