Durga puja’ (দুর্গাপূজা) these two words embody a myriad of emotions in the mind of every Bengali no matter where they are in this world. It is that time of the year when you want to go back to your home and experience and participate in the festival. It is that time of the year when homecoming revolves around the mind of every Bengali. If, by any chance, one has to miss visiting their beloved city, a sense of nostalgia grapples their mind. Durga Puja in Kolkata (কলকাতা) is not only a religious festival, but it’s also a celebration of the entire essence of being a Bengali. It is not only about worshipping the idol of Ma Durga (মা দুর্গা) but decorating the whole city with the vibe of festivities when we know ‘মা আসছে l’ (the goddess is arriving). Durga puja is about lighting every nook and corner of the city to brighten up everyone’s life and remove darkness from everything around. The festival celebrates happiness, peace, and equality when every Bengali, irrespective of their caste, creed, and religion, indulges in the spirit of festivities.
Yes, Durga Puja in Kolkata is more than a religious festival. It is a festival for all, a grand celebration of the spirit of humanity that Maa Durga protects. The goddess Durga is regarded as ‘Maa’ (mother) here. She is an omnipresent, omniscient being who visits her maternal house and her four children- Kartikeya, Ganesha, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Her arrival is marked by a sense of new beginnings, newfound happiness, and a promise of everything falling into place. Her arrival is an assurance that Maa will eradicate every evil from everyone’s life just the way she diminishes Mahishashur (মহিষাসুর), a demon and restores peace, prosperity, happiness and spiritual upliftment in the universe.
It is a five-day-long festival for which preparations are started months before. With the dawn of Rath Yatra, the Bhumi Puja (ভূমি পূজা) for the arrival of the Goddess is executed. The sacred soil that foregrounds the holy ground for the Puja is also taken from the bottom of Prostitutes, who are regarded as holy. This symbolizes the universal essence of the presence of the divine in every human being. As the month progresses, with the arrival of October, the air smells of Sheuli and Kash Phool (native flowers), and in the mind of every Bengali, the appearance of Maa Durga establishes a new hope.
Words will fall short of expressing why you should visit Kolkata during the Durga Puja, known as Pujo. However, this blog will try to paint a realistic picture of the biggest festival of Bengal.
- Maa Durga is more a Mother than a Goddess. If you want to witness how an entire comes together and celebrate the presence of the divine as a member of their own family who visits home once a year, then come to Kolkata during the Pujas. The line that divides the people based on either cultural, financial, or social boundaries is blurred in celebration. The Pujo is for everyone- every Bengali, Hindu, Non-Bengali, and those who adhere to different religions.
- The streets are decorated beautifully with larger-than-life pandals (প্যান্ডেল) and street artwork. The grandeur of the entire festival has made the celebration of Durga Puja the world’s most renowned street artwork festival.
- Witness imagination and innovation as the idol maker and the pandal organizer pour their stream of consciousness into making the best pandals every year with diverse themes collected worldwide. Some will take you to the era of Pyramids in Egypt, where the idol of Devi Durga is imagined amid the vast desert. Whereas, some will reimagine Devi Durga as the sustainer of the planet who urges humans to save the world to better humanity. There is a crazy competition to emerge as the best theme Pujo (পুজো) of the year. Besides these theme Pujas, one can experience the rich cultural heritage of the erstwhile Bengal, as the great home of earlier feudal lords celebrates the Puja keeping the tradition alive.
- To conclude, I will keep the best part aside: food. Durga Puja in Kolkata is synonymous with Pet Pujo, which means satisfying your stomach to your heart’s extent. Everyone bids adieu to their diets for these five days and indulges in all sorts of delicacies, starting from the Puja Bhog (পূজা ভোগ) to authentic Bengali cuisine with their family and friends.
Hence there are thousands of reasons to visit Kolkata during Durga Puja. I’ve mentioned five. The rest you need to see and experience on your own. I am sure you will find plenty of things to fall in love with the city that dresses like a queen during these five days of festivity celebrated with lots of love, grandeur, eloquence, and happiness.
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