Maa Eseche Ghore Tai Mne Eto Anondo
The above welcoming phrase turned into Asche Bochhor Aabar hobe really fast this year and I was lucky enough to witness a part of it in the Bengali heartland-Kolkata
Yes, I was part of the whole festivity surrounding the biggest festival in the eastern part of the country-Durga Puja and I must say I’ve never seen anything like it. Durga Puja is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly in the eastern part of the country in October/November, every year paying reverence to the Hindu Goddess Durga. More on the subject you can read here.
I didn’t get to see the immersion as I had to get back to base (makes me rethink my Job+travel policy -_-). But the few days I was in Kolkata, makes me long for it even now.
I have always been fond of the city, never actually visited it (I did once but for 2 days, that doesn’t count) but whatever I heard or read about this city, it made me bucketlist Kolkata to the top in the India travel list. Whats better than visiting Kolkata is visiting it during its festive best, during Durga Puja. Although I would like to put a disclaimer here that if you want to enjoy the old school, authentic, Calcutta per say, this might not be the best time. Why? Cause during Puja the city is like a Friday or even better a Saturday night for a 9 to 5 Job goer. The city is all lit up, decorated and out on the streets. Its like the city is waking up from a year long slumber to a party night.
In all seriousness, Bengali’s are very particular about their cultural heritage and more so about Durga Puja celebration. Right from the time the Durga idols are made till the time the same are immersed into the river, each and every ritual is observed with care.
The actual Durga Puja trail starts from the place where these idols are made.
The most fun activity (it was for me) during the Puja is ‘Pandal hopping’. So, hundreds of communities, clubs and groups have come together to set up such beautiful and grand pandals, for whom? For us of course :D. I mean obviously its a tradition but its us Mango people that visit these pandals to admire the beauty and seek the blessing of the deity and make the effort of the organizing team and the designer worthwhile. Now, Pandal hopping is not just a fun activity, its a sport! You have to carve out a strategy to make the most of your time and effort visiting various pandals in the city. Firstly, the city is huge! Its the largest city in the country (by area) second only to Mumbai. So, you have to divide different parts of the city and plan visiting pandals in these parts accordingly. There are a few famous Pandals, with the most innovative and grandest display every year (I got to visit some :D) which should be a part of your list. But then as famous as they are , its that much difficult to get in. Do people in India love queuing up? No they don’t. But unfortunately they have to, to accommodate the population. For Kolkata, people from neighboring states and travelers like me just make the situation even worse. Anyway, pandal hoping is best done throughout the night, cause this is the best time to enjoy the lighting and decoration of the pandals. Moreover, during these days the city doesn’t sleep and its worth becoming a night crawler for such a hustle.
Chhau Somersault-Chhau is the Indian classical dance form from the eastern part of the country
As I earlier mentioned that I’m in love with every ounce of this city, I wanted to visit some of its iconic places. But unfortunately my schedule didn’t allow me to do so. Hence, word of advice, visiting Kolkata for Durga Puja is a wise idea, in fact the best I have ever had. But leave it at that and don’t try to scrunch in other touristy things. For once leave with the image of the city at its best.
Below is a piece from my Kolkata Photo Journal during Durga Puja.