Planning to visit the city of joy? Schedule your trip during Durga Puja in Kolkata. If you are a Bengali, then you know the reasons already. If you are new in the city or planning to visit Kolkata within or prior to puja then you must give it a shot. Durga Puja of Kolkata will never disappoint you. Because Calcuttans remain the happiest during Durga Puja and the weather remains the best.
This festival happens during the month of October, when the monsoon bids a goodbye for a year and a clear weather with blue sky and small clouds appears in the City. happiness friends spread everywhere. Bengalis save their money all over the year to make this festival a golden memory that they can cherish for another year.
Kolkata becomes beautiful
If you visit Kolkata anytime other than the festival, it may seem that this 350 years old city is not planned, clean or well maintained like Delhi or Bangalore. When you enter the city a few days before Durga Puja, you’ll find yourself soaking yourself in a mixture of beauty, culture, art, and tradition like never before. The clean roads, lighting all over the streets, the decorated pandals, overcrowded markets, the auspicious sound of Dhaak(a big drum played during Durga Puja), the smell of new clothes, incense sticks, burnt dry coconut skin and camphor will take you to another world.
Nature decorates the city and around in its own way. The sky becomes a huge canvas with an amazing painting of clouds and colors. Saccharum spontaneum, a white grass flower grows everywhere in the fields making the fields looking like an ocean of white waves when wild wind blows. The cool breeze in the morning, the dew drops on the tip of grass, white flowers fell on the pathways will tell you- Durga Puja is here.
Artistic Works- the Idol
The preparation of puja brings a gust of wild happy wind. The city starts the preparation almost 100 days before the puja. You can even feel the happiness in the air if you are residing in the city.
For the people who are planning to visit during Durga Puja, if possible visit at least one week ago. You must visit the Kumartuli. The Kumartuli offers its visitors to look closely at how the artists build up a 10 feet tall Durga idol just with the help of mud and bamboos. The people who work here can show you the real artistic work practically just in front of your eyes. Some Durga idols from Kumartuli have found permanent places in the museums of foreign countries.
Pandal and Lighting
Not only the idols, even the pandals become a work of some famous artist about whom we always read news on paper. The people who work to make a puja successful all work in harmony. You shouldn’t miss the astounding beauty each pandal portrays on its walls. Majority of the pandals are made based on a particular theme like – any old fort, a story from history or mythology, any novel or story, book fair and the list is never-ending. You’ll be spell-bound with the creativity shown on the pandals made with craps or waste materials that seems unrealistic.
Kolkata is known as the capital of culture and during Durga Puja, this cultural hub of India oozes out the talents it has kept hidden in its city for all this time. Every pandal is unique on its own. If some pandal is prepared with gold then some mimic some hidden/forgotten art/culture of India or of any other country. You just cannot pre-monitor what is waiting for you in the various pandals of different parts of Kolkata.
Durga Puja Pandals present her visitors shows of lighting. The lightings are all eccentric. Even the small pandals spend a lot on lighting. And some pandals don’t use any artwork to buy visitors. They use lighting work artistically to gather people.
When the other parts of India keep fasting during the nine days of Navaratri, Kolkata is seen to be indulged in food even more. Kolkata becomes more innovative with its foods to quench the hunger of the people who are roaming around the city. The mouth-watering foods are everywhere. Every food stall prepares egg roll to biriyani everything. Though you can find numerous food stalls or restaurants still you have to wait in lines. Cause people stand in a queue in front of every stall.
Not only savory foods are prepared in still even sweets are produced with twists. Kolkata is known for its sweets. There are various well-known sweet shops who make various special sweets, especially during Durga puja. To name a few I can recall- Radharam Balaram Mallick, Girish Chandra Dey, and Nakur Chandra Dey, Nalin Chandra Das & Sons, Bhim Chandra Nag etc. You just cannot decide what to eat and what to leave.
We suggest you attend various functions organized by pandals/clubs and wait till Dashami, the last day of the puja. This is the day when Uma goes back to her husband’s home, in heaven. Though the day brings little sadness after all these celebrations, the Bengali women do not let Uma go in a melancholic mood. They celebrate the day with Sindoor Khela. This is a special day for women. They pray for the health and prosperity of their family.
During puja days, you’ll hear the sound of Dhaak in all the pandals. They play it in a special beat which is different every day. People dance with a Dhunuchi(an earthen pot filled with burning coconut skin and camphor) on the Dhaak beats. It is called Dhunuchi dance. You’ll find your feet dancing automatically with this superb synchronized beat of multiple Dhaaks at any pandal.
People keep asking the reason behind having a blast with food, especially non-vegetarian food during Navratri. We can tell you that. There is a mythology behind the food indulgence, sindoor khela and the whole atmosphere of the festivity. Unlike the other part of India, Bengalis worship goddess Durga as their daughter. When daughter Durga comes home with her children once in a year, Bengalis welcome them and celebrate. They do not keep fasting so that they can feed their daughter as she likes.
Goddess Durga is called ‘Uma’ by her Bengali fathers and mothers. When she goes back, Bengalis put sindoor on their daughter forehead, which they do with their real daughters who are married, as a part of their culture. Then they bid goodbye to their daughter with teary eyes taking a promise from her to return back again next year. Beautiful isn’t it?
You can find this mythology flowing everywhere in the city during the puja till the last day of the festival through the culture, food and everything you see around.
Durga Puja is special in its own way and you cannot find the charm of this festival in the other cities of India like the way Bengalis and their city celebrate it. This auspicious occasion and the 5 days of celebration flow away like in a minute. But the sadness is not able to build a barrier. Within 2-3 days, the club committees again gather in a meeting to decide about their next year’s plan. And this helps the Bengalis to keep their excitement bottled up for the next year Durga Puja. Visit Kolkata, be a part of this amazing experience during Durga Puja and take away memories of a lifetime with you.