Durga Puja Celebrations In Kolkata
Soothing, Electriying and Uplifting
Durga Puja is one of the most important festivals in entire India. However it is in West Bengal, that one gets to see the most emphatic celebrations. For the people of the state, Durga Puja is more than just a festival, it is the time to express their culture and devotion through the highest degree of energy and enthusiasm. Durga Puja, apart from being famous among Bengalis, it attracts tourists from all over the world. The festival is celebrated during the Navaratris, commencing on 6th day and ending on the 10th day. This 5 day festival puts forth the grandest exhibition of color and culture that surpasses all other festival by quite a distance.
The main attraction of event are the numerous pandals that are set up for the celebrations. It is estimated that nearly 2000 pandals are erected in Kolkata alone. The pandals that are set up are simply unbelievable. You really have to see one to believe that such marvels can be made and that too in such a short time. Some of them are made copying famous monuments like Taj Mahal, Parliament House and forts of Rajasthan that them another attraction of the festival. The Pandal that houses the idol of Goddess Durga for four days, are as grand from inside as they are from outside. The decorations used inside the pandal are simply stunning. The best thing about them is that the designs that are used once, are never repeated again.
Legends Behind Durga Puja
Goddess Durga is believed to be the reincarnation when all gods combined their power to get rid of the demon Mahishasura. According to Mythology, during the time of war between Lord Rama and Demon King Ravana, Lord Rama conjured Goddess Durga to seek her blessings for the war. This prayer was done during the month of Ashwin (6th month according to Bengali calendar), which by Gregorian calendar falls around September or October. This period is thus referred to as 'Akalbodhon'. Another legend has it that Lord Shiva permitted Goddess Durga to visit her mother for nine days in an year. Her visit to her parents is thus celebrated as Durga Puja. On the 10th day, immersion of Goddess Durga idol in River Ganges symbolizes her return to Mt. Kailash.
The Celebrations of A Lifetime
It is not just the 5 days of Durga Puja, that you will see West Bengal come alive with different hues of celebration. Even a month prior to the festival, one can feel the atmosphere permeated with energy and excitement. Even the rituals begin way in advance. They start with making of the idol of Goddess Durga. All the material that is used for making the idol has to come from River Ganges. It takes the artisans months for preparing some exquisite statues that are so famous that Indians staying in other countries come to Bengal to buy these idol and take back to their homes for celebrations there. The idol of Goddess Durga is always accompanied by four other idols of Lord Ganesha, Lord Kathik, Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Saraswati. Sometimes, they are incorporated into the same idol and some times are made differently. On Mahashashti (6th day of Navaratri), early morning the main ritual of unveiling the face of the idol is performed. This marks the commencement of the festival.
What follows, are days of mind blowing celebrations. On all five days there are cultural programmes are organized from morning till evening. This is also the time to taste the best of Bengal cuisine. Be it snacks, a complete meal or sweet dishes, you will get to have dishes that are normally not prepared. On all days, people come dressed in new and traditional clothes. On Mahadashami (10th day of Navaratri), which is the last day of celebrations, the idol is taken out of the pandal in a grand procession, during evening and taken to the banks of River Ganges. You will be stunned as well as left speechless, when you see the huge crowd that has gathered on the banks for immersion. Idols of Goddess Durga from all parts of the state are brought here for the sacred ritual. As the night falls, rituals are all completed and people start returning to their homes, tired, satisfied, and blessed.
If you are looking for enjoyment, happiness and celebration, mixed with a lot of culture and even more devotion, then a Durga Puja Pandal in West Bengal is the place to be. The sheer grandness of the whole affair will sweep you off your feet. If you think that the welcoming of Goddess Durga was magnificent, and you have seen it all, there might not be another moment when you will be more wrong. Wait and watch the send off that Goddess Durga gets on the banks of River Ganges, which would be unlike anything you have ever seen before or are destined to.