Explore The Festivity Of Durga Puja In The Beautiful City Of Kolkata
Post by Uzma Kidwai | Sep 14, 2016
Durga Pujo, that time of the year when Kolkata completely transforms from a regular metropolitan city to a place that would be visited by gods! The sheer energy in the city from months before the pujos till weeks after the pujo is electric. And that is the very tangible energy that you feel.
If you have been in the city long enough, you will also experience this undercurrent, this funny tingling feeling in your tummy for Durga Pujo. The feeling that you get out of anticipation; the feeling that you get when Durga Pujo is over and you start looking forward to next year of arrival of the goddess Durga at your doorstep. To welcome her into your house with big hearts and open arms and all the love the world can handle.
The anticipation is different for different people of course, depending on how their lives get transformed when the goddess decides to bless them with her presence. The idol makers in the city, mainly inhabiting the Kumartolly area know the goddess brings her blessings to them throughout the year. Making her idols is a livelihood for them, the way they bring food on the table, the way they survive. And it is a yearlong occupation for them. Such is the devotion and dedication to the goddess that each year they will try and top their own art and create a more beautiful deity of the goddess, to try and personify the grandeur that she is. If you visit the city and have some time, do see the idol makers in action, their dedication will astound you.
The deities are put in beautiful pandals so that each locality can share their interpretation of the goddess with the world. These pandals are constructed by people who most of the times don’t even have houses to call theirs. And yet, you see them, working day and night, to create a warm and safe ambience for their goddess and her guests to reside in. Made from bamboos, the strength and resilience of each pandal will amaze you. Many pandals, over 50 feet tall adorn the city and will amaze you with their sheer beauty. It will take convincing and lot of phases of self-realization to believe that it is in fact just bamboos holding the structure together. For people who have visited the city during the Pujas and gone pandal hopping, you know what I am talking about.
There are so many such similar households that are blessed by the Goddess Durga’s arrival. The flower men, dress makers, painters, rug makers, and endless other folks who make the dream of Pujas come alive.
Durga Pujo is celebrated all over the world, but it is Kolkata where the grandeur of it is almost like a fairytale. Families, however, meager or substantial their income is, save money and wear new clothes throughout the four days of celebration of this festival. The unadulterated joy and excitement that you will find on each face is heart-warming.
Everything amazing about Bengali food that you have heard about, you can taste them during this time. Community potlucks are organized where everyone from the area, irrespective of whether you are a Bengali or not, whether you are from the city or not come together. Everyone is welcome to share the Kolkattans food and their homes.
During the pujas, the whole city is lit, marking the ending of darkness and entry of light, of the victory of good over evil. Every nook and corner of the city is lit with bulbs, twinkling lights, colorful lights, and every other light there is! If you were flying over the city during the pujos, you will be able to see the lights from right up there! Some believe we become easier targets for aliens (for those who believe in them) during Durga puja. Others of course scoff at their wild imagination. How can the aliens even think of attacking us when we have Goddess Durga to protect us!
It does not matter how rich or how poor you are, what is your social standing, whether you are a mason or an IAS officer, whether you an old frail lady or a young boy, Durga Pujo makes everything insignificant. When you are in a pandal, playing with vermillion, you do not care the social hierarchy of the person standing next to you, you just color her in red and share with her, the joy that flows through all your veins.
This is what makes Kolkata the city that it is. The warmth, the hospitality, the welcome you receive, irrespective of where you come from is what Durga Pujo teaches us, and what we follow throughout the year. The appreciation for art and culture, the zeal to make ourselves better, this is what Durga Pujo teaches us. To find a ray of hope in the darkest of nights, this is what Durga Pujo teaches us.
What Durga Pujo means to a Kolkattan is something that is almost impossible to express in words and can only be experienced. Ask folks who are now staying outside the city what they miss. Ask the ones who have stayed decades out of India and see them reminiscence. If just talking to folks can give you goose bumps, imagine what the actual experience is going to be like. Visit the city of joy during the pujas and find out for yourself. In the land of Goddess Durga, you are always welcome.
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