onset of autumn signifies the homecoming of the Mother Goddess
and brings with it the aura of festivity and celebration
is probably the most happening city in India nowadays. Reason:
Durga Puja is in the air. Though the festival is yet to kick
off, preparations have been enough to envelop the city in
a medley of ornamentation, illumination and the aroma of mouth-watering
the business traveller who is in the vicinity, it will be
the experience of a lifetime. For him/her, Kolkata offers
unlimited shopping options, a culinary fare which is about
as Bengali as it gets, huge discounts at hotels, nights which
are brighter than day considering the hectic nightlife and
the all-pervasion of devotion and exuberance.
Though Durga Puja is celebrated in the month of October (Ashwin
as per the Bengali calendar), celebrations start weeks ahead.
The city strikes a different chord altogether echoing the
music of bonhomie, brotherhood and festivity.
The onset of autumn signifies the homecoming of the Mother
Goddess and brings with it the aura of festivity and celebration.
There is a Bengali saying that there are 13 festivals in the
Bengali calendar of 12 months. Durga Puja is undoubtedly the
biggest of them all. To say that it is being celebrated with
fanfare and gaiety in this part of the country is an understatement.
Huge idols of the ten-armed Goddess Durga destroying the Buffalo
Demon accompanied by her two sons, Lord Ganesha and
Kartikeya, and two daughters Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati painstakingly
created by artisans, mainly at Kumartuli area of north Kolkata,
are placed at the puja pandals (makeshift temples) erected
for the purpose.
much acclaimed pandals reflect the engineering skills of the
craftsmen. Innovative illumination of these pandals by the
famed electricians of Chandannagar, a suburban town, is another
attraction of the Durga Puja.
Altogether, being in the midst of Durga Puja celebrations
in Kolkata is an unforgettable experience.
And why not, the four days of festivity (though its
a ten-day festival, the last four days are celebrated in grandeur),
is an experience which one treasures.
rituals start with Bodhan (the invocation of the
Mother Goddess on the first day) on Sasthi and Naba
Patrika Sthapan (the important ritual of setting up
a giant banana tree clad in a saree beside Lord Ganesha and
worshipping her as his wife) on Saptami. Then
there is the Pushpanjali (floral offerings to
the Goddess) in the morning and the Sandhya Arati
in the evening of Ashtami, the most important day of the festival.
And then the animal sacrifice on Nabami (the third day of
the festival and the ninth according to the Bengali almanac)
and the Sindoor Khela (the ritual of putting vermilion
on the forehead of the Goddess by the married womenfolk).
Finally, the tearful immersion of these huge images on Dashami
(the tenth or the last day of the festival) in the Ganges.
On Ashtami, the devotees have to follow a vegetarian diet
but on Nabami, the Goddess is offered non-vegetarian items
which are later distributed among the devotees as bhog.
The Durga Pujas, whether it is at the traditional family houses
or the big community ones, have a charm of their own. The
ambience, rituals and glitter associated with the pujas at
Sovabazar Rajbari, Sabarna Roy Chowdhurys ancestral
house at Behala and in several houses in north Kolkata are
The festival has attained a social character over the years.
Kolkata witnesses an upsurge in business activities at least
a month ahead of the festival. The Bengali community especially
gears up for the festival weeks ahead of D-day. The shopping
centres in Kolkata dole out fabulous discounts and offers
to the people. Most Bengalis virtually embark on a shopping
spree during the festival.
Dressing material, sarees, clothes and furnishings worth crores
of rupees are sold during the month ahead. From wristwatches
to washing machines, from jewellery to journals, anything
sells. Starting from the multinationals down to the roadside
misthiwala (sweetmeat shop) all vie with each
other to have a pie of the cake. The multinationals sponsor
big community pujas, dole out gifts; organise lucky draws
and contests to attract the attention of the gullible revellers,
while the para (locality) sweetmeat shop prepares
mouth-watering desserts and sweets.
Some even prefer to move out of the din and bustle of the
city and enjoy the pujas, holidaying in the snow-capped hill
stations or sun-kissed sea-beaches. While some move out of
the city, thousands of non-resident Bengalis and tourists
from all over the country and world visit Kolkata during this
time to be a part of the revelry and celebrations.
The hospitality industry in the state waits in anticipation
for this season as the occupancy level in their hotels skyrockets.
During this time, luxury hotels in the city offer their choicest
dining and staying experience. Eating joints of the city,
including the restaurants of luxury hotels, organise authentic
Bengali food festivals to attract the crowd.
all the corporate houses do something or the other to make
its presence felt during this period. Several Bengali periodicals
and local newspapers come out with special Durga Puja
commemorative issues, which sell as hot cakes;
not only in Bengal, but also in neighbouring Bangladesh and
Tripura where too Durga Puja is celebrated with much fanfare
and gaiety. Even singers and artistes release puja
albums which prove to be instant hits. The airline companies
too offer attractive packages to its valued customers.
The state tourism department, has also been promoting Durga
Puja-The Celebration of Life in a big way and wooing
tourists to visit the city during the four days of festivity.
To sum it up, besides the revelry and ritual
associated with Durga Puja, the four days of festivity means
sale of goods and wares worth crore of rupees.
Durga Puja-The Celebration of Life is Kolkatas
open invitation to the rest of the world. Come be a part of
this festivity, pamper your senses, go pandal
hopping with your loved and dear ones and even clinch your
business deal. Because, according to Hindu mythology, the
Mother Goddess comes down to the Earth once in
a year from her eternal home to bless her children.