A Glimpse Into Kolkata’s Extravagant Durga Puja

Visiting Kolkata during Durga Puja is an incredible experience. It is that time of the year when Maa Durga is believed to descend from Heaven to Earth. No wonder it is also known as the festival of ‘homecoming’. The city and the locals deck up in finery for the10 days long celebration of victory over evil. Durga puja could be seen as the Bengali counterpart of North India’s Navratri but a much more elaborate and magnificent affair. But it is not just fun but quite a serious business too. The festival offers jobs to more than 1 lakh people sustaining a micro-economy. Priests, decorators, idol makers, electricians, and dhaakis can ensure a major boost in their income during the puja months.

Take a Chennai to Kolkata flight between the end of September to early October if you are planning to visit the City of Joy. Bengalis soak in the joyous occasion much like you would enjoy the 4-day Pongal in Tamil Nadu. Below is a detailed insight into what happens during Puja.

The Pandals

The spirit of this spectacular festival is reflected through the pandal craftsmanship. Artisans over the years have turned multiple concepts into reality. Innovative themes, decorative styles, and dazzling lightworksdraw people of all ages, classes, and genders. This helps the city usher in a mega celebration. Kolkata witnessed a few of the finest structures and artwork of the country.  Back in times when pubs and malls were not mainstream, ‘pandal hopping’ was the first taste of independence for the local youngsters.

Make the most of the time in your Chennai to Kolkata flight to narrow down the ones you would like to visit. The award-winning ones are Suruchi Sangha, Ekdalia Evergreen, Kumartuli Park, Santosh Mitra Square, and Deshapriya Park. This is crucial since it is only possible to visit a fraction of the estimatedone-of-its-kind 2,500 pandals of the city.

The Celebration

Dhunuchi Naach or folk-style dance is the crux of every Durga Pujo. This is offered o the goddess after the Sandhya Aarati on the 8th day (Ashtami). An earthen pot is filled with burning coconut husk, ghee, and camphor. Thick smoke, music beats, and the dhuno aroma translate into an enthralling ambience in the pujo mondop. It was previously an all-men affair. But women have also been taking an active part in the performance.

The dhaak and the dhaakis are integral parts of the celebration. They stir up the fervour with their continuous aggressive drumming.  Waking up to the nostalgic sound of ‘dhaak’ in the morning from Shoshti to Dashami helps immerse in the essence of pujo.

Alpona (floor art) is another major symbol of the festival. Long stretches of Kolkata roads are painted in mesmerising designs with vibrant colours. The longest one was created by Samaj Sevi Puja Pandal in 2017 with 400 people amid closed traffic.

The unparalleled carnivalesque vibe of the city cannot be put down into words. The best way to experience the lovely festival quintessence is to pay a visit. Don’t forget to relish the delicious Bengali street foods before heading back on your Kolkata to Chennai flight.

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