For a Bengali out of Kolkata, Durga Puja is the time when the city is missed to its peak. However, this time I am not gonna let this happen. After all, my leaves are already approved.. Yeipiee!!
I cannot dare to sit back at work when my ‘City of Joy’ gets decked up with colourful lights and is filled with sound of ‘dhaks’, chores of colorfully dressed Bengalis and non- Bengalis and aroma of chops, cutlets, jhal- muri, chicken roll, biriyani and etc etc. October is that time of the year when my heart beats fast to meet old folks, dance with ‘dhunuchi’, wear traditional ‘Bangali’ saris and ‘adda’ (gossip) over most stupid and unrealistic topics.
This time I wish to take you along to my incredible Bengal- that part of India where Durga Puja is not merely a religious festival, but a mega carnival frequently compared to the famed Rio Carnival of Rio de Janeiro.
The old thin alleys of Kumortuli in north Kolkata take you along the journey from collecting hays and clays to giving final touches on Durga idols. Here, the hard work and detailed craftsmanship of potters gets clearly reflected on the plethora of artistically designed and bejewelled Durga idols piled along the lanes. The alleys become a photographer’s paradise as they try to capture every moment of the creation.
The gorgeously decorated ‘pandals‘ are mostly theme based. What not is used for making such splendid impressive temporary shelters for the Goddess- earthen lamps, plastic bottles, match boxes, hay, etc etc. And when the pandals are so artistically made up, who can I not include ‘pandal hopping’. It always excites me to hop around from pandal to pandal with friends and get swayed by those impressive creations. Come join me..
While south Kolkata is known for extravagantly lit up and themed pandals, north is celebrated for immaculately designed Durga idols in different styles and patterns. Few pujas of south Kolkata that steals your eyes include Ekdalia Everygreen, Suruchi Sangha, Badamtala Ashar Sangha, 41 Pally, Bosepukur, Naktala Udayan Sangha, Behala Srishti. The artistically crafted idols of Bagbazar Sarbajanin, College Square, Ahiritola, Kumartuli Park, Laketown Sribhumi and Mohammad Ali Park bring to forefront the brilliance of potters who are actually unknown to the outside world.
Be there at Deshapriya Park in south Kolkata this time as it is going to have the tallest Durga idol of all festive seasons.
Kolkata mesmerizes me with its impressive lighting. From narrow unknown lanes to famed avenues, every corner of it gets dressed in a confluence of colourful lights. Interestingly, the lighting are also theme based at times. The panoramic vista of the entire city is spectacular and incredible.
Bengali’s love for food is eternal. On the eve of Durga Puja, my food list stretches from street side chicken rolls, mutton rolls, fish fry, biriyani, phuchka, papri chaat and egg devil to the Chinese delicacies at China Town and Sizzlers and Chelo Kebabs at Peter Cat. Huh!! I don’t mind waiting in the queue for hours. With those tantalizing food comes non- stop adda sessions especially at Madox Square.
The sound of amazing ‘dhaakis‘ wake me up every morning during the five days of puja. Traditional drums with kash flower embedded sticks soothes my ears with holy rhythm. It is also difficult to resist tapping my feet to the beats till my energy is drained out.
Dashami marks last day of the festivity. From traditional ‘dhunuchi‘ dance to ‘sindoor khela‘, the sight of vermillion smeared faces of married ladies captivate your eyes every time you attend the last day of the celebration. The Visarjan (immersion) brings tears to my eyes and I hold my breathe till next year. What all I can say is ‘Asche bochor abar hobe’ (next year it will happen again). As we all bid farewell to the Mother with sweets, vermillion and betel leaves, men with music, drums and crackers proceed in processions to immerse the idols in water. Make sure to visit Babughat on the eve of Visarjan. Come folks, join me for the same.
Lights, cheerful crowd, holy chimes, food, fiestas and more – ahh!! Chalo lets go to Bengal and make unforgettable memories with Bangaliana on 2015 Durga utsav.