#DurgaPuja2017 – Life Deserves a Visit to Kolkata during Durga Puja

Shubho Shosti people!!

The sky changes its colours and air smells different. Hot, humid or a slight chill in the weather across India tell the same tales. There is something in the air which whispers festivities. The routine of people in the city which is generally silent and disciplined all of a sudden goes into frenzy. Late nights are absolutely an “ok” for few days, dressing up in this humid weather is also absolutely ok, traffic jams are taken care off to visit a faraway festival venue. Well, that’s how it is supposed to be!! Festivals bring in joy, happiness & cheers. Let’s spread it our way.

I belong to the Bengali cult; the specialty is that we are all united all over the world by the word “Durga Pujo”. The emotions are nostalgia of Sheouli phool, Dhaak – dhunochi, women dressed up in the best of silks, and the food!!

Pujo outside Bengal has a different flavor altogether. I am a bengali outside of Kolkata and for me this festival is about community but Durga Pujo in Kolkata is a carnival.

I bring to you a flavor of Kolkata Durga Pujo through someone who has grown up in that city. This is a Guest Post by Snehal Ruparel

Well, she is not a Bengali but one becomes a true blue Bengali when they grow up in that land. Infact she is married to one. She is married to my brother. She is in love with writing and creating content and watch her pour out the flavor of Pujo in Kolkata city

What will you find in this post?

  1. Romance of Durga Puja, the things you will see if you are in Kolkata during this festival
  2. Some important “Pujo” words if you want to flaunt to your Bengali friends
  3. An inspiration to plan a Durga Pujo trip to Kolkata

It’s that time of the year again. For five days, Kolkata will be transformed to a parallel universe where people don’t sleep or tire, they just take to the streets of the city fuelled by a desire to capture the puja spirit.

Kolkatans across the world would give anything to be back in the city at this time of the year. The excitement is palpable, the spirit is indomitable, and the happiness is almost tangible!

Having the distinction of being called the Rio Carnival of the East, Durga Puja for me has always been Pujo. Born and brought up in Kolkata and despite being a Kutchi I distinctly remember that my family and I have always celebrated Pujo with pomp and fervour.

Pujo in Kolkata is all about beats of the dhak, the smell of the dhuno, and the sight of Maa in all her resplendent glory in the beautifully crafted pandals ( A temporary structure set up to venerate the goddess)

My grandfather had told me that Durga Puja was celebrated because it marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Thus, Durga Puja festival epitomizes the victory of Good over Evil.

The things that will take you fancy are listed here. These are few of my favorite things too

Pandals: While I lived in Kolkata I would go pandal hopping till wee hours of the morning with friends and family. Pandal hopping is the best aspect about this carnival like festival.. Just camouflage with the crowd, visit the pandals– it’s all too good. While you would appreciate the artistic ‘theme’ pandals like Shivmandir Sarbojani or Santoshpur Lake Pally, you should visit the Bagabazar or Ekdalia for their traditional ties. Carry your camera to click some of the most awesome pictures ever.

Lights: My city Kolkata is as beautiful as a bride during Pujo. There is impressive lighting all around the city- from gigantic chandeliers in pandals to the electronic animated lighting. There is never a dull moment nor a dull corner in my city during Pujo.

 Sounds: I miss listening to the sounds of Dhaaki (players of the traditional drums). In fact I would wake up in the morning listening to the beautiful sound of dhaaki. The drum is decorated with a stick of the kash flower. You don’t need to be an expert dancer to groove. Just move with the rhythm. If you can manage to reach Sealdah Station on Panchami morning, you will be opportune enough to listen to 5000+ of these dhaakis playing their dhaaks!

Adda: Adda refers to the chat session that is omnipresent in Kolkata, but during Puja it is all about meeting and greeting. I would exchange notes on which pandals to visit, which food to eat and where could we go for cultural programmes. My favorite place for adda was Maddox Square. Food stalls are abundant, so you will never run out of food or beverages.

Food: During Pujo my parents would give me some money so that my friends and I could feast – Puchkas, rolls, biryanis, ice cream (especially the choco bar) and cold drinks. We were allowed to eat everything only during Puja and we would go to different areas in the city to eat mishti and other delicacies.

Sindoor Khela: As a child I remember my mom would drape her red and white saree (its called the Lal paar saree in Bengali) and would apply vermillion to Goddess Durga and then all the ladies in the pandal. Sindoor Khela symbolizes the power of women or Shakti to protect her husband from all maladies and will respect the companionship through thick and thin.

Fashion: Married to a Bengali, Pujo is all about sarees and jewelry as far as fashion is concerned. I still fail to drape a saree perfectly. My mom-in-law does it beautifully and flawlessly. Most of the sarees has been gifted to me by her & my husband. Am not a big fan of sarees but during Pujo I ensure that I apply the quintessential red bindi, wear a tant saree and put on my shakha pola (a typical red coral & white conch shell bangles)

I shifted to Mumbai in 2015 and unfortunately haven’t been able to go back to Kolkata to celebrate Pujo. Needless, to say I miss my city especially during Pujo and hopefully in 2018 my husband and I will celebrate Pujo in Kolkata- Agar bochhor- abar hobey kintu Kolkatay. (Next year the Puja celebrations in Kolkata).

In all her glory
Glimpse of Sindoor Khela – Snehal
Circle of women

So, if you relate to it or want to try out this carnival in Kolkata. Tag that friend in the comments section and take him/her along. Call them and speak about that Adda in your locality pujo.

For more articles on festivals, Indian culture and joy connect with me on Facebook and Instagram

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