Durga Puja or Durga Utsav commenced last month with all fanfare and devotion across India and abroad. Especially in West Bengal, it is the most sought after event of the year. People from Bengal who are settled abroad make it a point to visit their home place during Puja. Its a time to be with family and friends at this time of the year.
Fortunately I was in Kolkata to witness for the first time this grand festival.
While wondering from where to start, I remember few weeks back I went to Kumartuli, the place where these idols of Durga Ma are crafted creatively.
Its a colony of workers especially devoted for the work and the work goes year round.
These people are highly skilled in their work and ship consignments overseas from where demand come especially for the annual Durga Puja .
The Pandals (temporary structures created especially for the festival) are theme based but many pandals are traditional every year and do not compete for new themes each year. They have preserved their heritage in being simple and consistent every year.
I went again during the Puja to Kumartuli. The Pandal at Kumartuli park was inspired from a model based on an upcoming temple at Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh.
This is from where I started the journey of experiencing the Puja on its second day.
One of the Oldest and famous Puja is at Rajbari, the palace of Nawab Kisen of Sova Bazaar family. It was a purely traditional one and the visitors here were of all age groups.
This Puja at Rajbari is actually a personal affair but people are allowed to visit and its a pupular place to visit during Puja.
The streets at this time of the year are so crowded that you need to have high energy and stamina to negotiate the crowd and to visit the famous pandals. This time there were more than 2500 pandals in whole of Kolkata.
The Pandal at Ekdalia was a replica of South Indian temple with all the details done very well outside and inside.
The amazing thing is that so many types and expressions of the idols can be seen through out and there is so much creativity in the whole thing from the theme of pandal to the posture and expression of the idols displayed in various pandals.
There is the fragnance of devotion and festivity throughout the whole festival here in Kolkata. There are official declared holidays of 10 days in whole of Bengal. Not only in the evenings but throughout the day, people visit Puja Pandals and enjoy the Puja holidays outdoors.
What I felt after attending the whole of festival in Kolkata was that if somebody wants to visit Kolkata as a Traveler, he or she must make it a point to visit during the Puja festival atleast once.