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Durga Puja Festival in Kolkata

Durga Puja Festival in Kolkata

In the heart of Kolkata, as the monsoon retreats and the crispness of autumn takes hold, Durga Puja transforms the city into a spectacle of divine pageantry and communal revelry. Typically held in September or October and lasting ten days, Durga Puja envelops Kolkata in a whirlwind of devotion, art, and celebration. It is not just a religious festival; it is a cultural, social and artistic event that brings the community together, transcending social barriers. It celebrates the empowerment of women, the triumph of good over evil and the importance of family and community. It is a deeply immersive experience that blends spirituality, tradition, art, and modernity, making it a truly unique and grand celebration.

The Goddess Comes Alive: Durga, the central figure of this grand celebration, is not just a goddess; she is a pivotal figure in Hinduism, revered as a powerful manifestation of Shakti, the divine feminine energy. Portrayed as a beautiful woman riding a lion, Durga has multiple arms, each holding a weapon from various gods. Besides her warrior aspect, Durga is worshipped as a nurturing mother figure, protecting and guiding her devotees. She is an avatar of Parvati and Kali, making her a respected and multifaceted deity in Hindu mythology. An important aspect of Durga Puja is that Bengali families welcome Durga into their homes as the married daughter who has come home with her four children (Ganesh, Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Kartik), and without her husband. This homecoming is a time for her to be loved, worshipped and celebrated, emphasising the familial bond and the special place she holds in the hearts of her devotees.

Artistry and Anticipation: The preparations begin weeks in advance in the narrow lanes of Kumartuli, where artisans, with their deft hands and ancient skills, breathe life into clay and straw. Here, Durga comes into being, her arms poised in eternal victory. These idols, each a masterpiece, are housed in pandals - splendid temporary temples that pop-up across the city. Each pandal, unique in its theme and frequently designed by leading architects and designers, offers a glimpse into the artistic soul of Kolkata.

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A City Transformed: As Durga Puja commences, Kolkata sheds its everyday skin to don one of ethereal beauty. Pandal hopping is the ritual of the hour, with families, young lovers, and wide-eyed tourists weaving through the decorated streets. These pandals are not mere temporary shelters but theatres of devotion and artistry, each telling a different story - sometimes a chapter from Hindu mythology, sometimes a slice of contemporary life.

Feast for the Senses: Amidst the rhythmic beats of dhak and the swirling smoke of dhunuchi dances, the festival is a feast not just for the eyes but for the palate as well. The air is thick with the aroma of street foods—the spicy tang of alur dom, the sweet syrup of roshogolla, and the rich gravies of kosha mangsho. It’s a culinary pilgrimage as much as a spiritual one, each morsel blessed by the goddess.

The Grand Finale: The festival culminates on Dashami, normally the tenth day, when the idols are paraded through the streets in a grand procession accompanied by songs, tears, and prayers, and immersed in the river, symbolising Durga’s return to her husband Shiva’s abode in the Himalayas. This act also represents the circle of life and the temporary nature of all earthly things.

Durga Puja in Kolkata is more than a festival; it is a vibrant tapestry woven with threads of devotion, culture, and community. It is a time when the city pauses to welcome the divine mother home, celebrate her presence, and bid her farewell with a promise to meet again.

Durga Puja in 2024 will be celebrated from Wednesday, October 9th to Sunday, October 13th.

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