Hello everybody !!
We celebrated Durga Puja, Bengali’s greatest festival 🙂 last week. I hope Durga Ma will bless all of you with happiness and good health.
In case you do not know about Durga Puja here is a small description on our festival :
Durga Puja is celebrated in the month of Ashvin of Hindu calendar which falls in September / October. The festival is celebrated as goddess Durga gets victory on the shape shifting and powerful demon Mahisasur. This festival epitomizes the victory of Good over Evil, it also marks the goddess as the motherly supreme power of life and creation.
Though Goddess Durga is primarily worshiped, but her 4 children goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity), Saraswati (goddess of wisdom and music), Ganesh (god of good beginnings) and Kartik (god of war) are also worshiped along with her.
The festival begins on the first day with Mahalaya, marking the beginning of Durga’s battle against evil demons. Pandal hopping starts from the third / fourth day usually in order to cover all possible pandals. Pandals are beautiful and intricately decorated temple style structures where the idol of Goddess Durga with her 4 children are kept for public view/worship. The main festival and Puja starts on the sixth day (Maha Sashthi) when celebrations begin elaborately. The festival ends of the tenth day of Bijoya Dashami (which also coincides with Dussehra celebrated in other parts of India). When the festival ends Durga idol is carried to a river and immersed, as she with her children returns to her home in Kailash.
In this part I will share with you how I celebrated our biggest festival with my friends and family in Kolkata. The next post (Part 2) will be time with my parents in my hometown Bardhaman.
A disclaimer before we start: This post is really long since I wanted to share with you as much as possible on our celebrations. So there are many pictures which I could not leave out. In case you do not like long posts you can still enjoy the photos 🙂
Mahalaya (Day 1):
We celebrated ethnic day in office on Mahalaya. The rule for ethnic day is Bengalis should wear Kurta Pajama (boys) / Saree (girls) and others should dress up in their authentic regional clothes. Also every project have their own special arrangements like food packets / games / anything fun to make the day in office fun.
Besides the entertainment part, girls really get to showcase their fashion quotient and everyone tries to look their best 😀 Following the rules, I wore this chiffon digital print saree.
As you know that I stay in Kolkata, there are huge number of Pandals which are beautiful beyond compare and everybody wants to see as much as they can. Also people from all parts of Bengal even abroad comes to see them. As a result the pandals are very crowded on the main Puja days. So this year we started our Mandap Darshan from the 3rd day of Puja (Tritia).
Day 3 (Tritia) :
There was lot of hype around Sreebhumi Sporting Club this year. They designed their pandal inspired by the palace of Mahishmati shown in the very popular film Baahubali. Also the Durga idol was said to be wearing gold jewellery worth 10 crore INR which matched with the royal theme of the mandap. So this was obviously our first visit 🙂
The lighting before entering the pandal was also very good depicting iconic scenes from the film. Here are pictures of 2 of my favorite scenes.
The pandal was really looking grand and beautiful like Mahismati. I was amazed to see how the artists crafted the top part with so much detailing.
The chandelier on the ceiling as you enter really matched with the royal theme.
I took picture of the whole Durga idol with her 4 children, but the pic got deleted while editing 😦 I am so sorry I could not show you the full idol. But here are some close up pics of Sreebhumi’s beautiful Goddess Durga with her lion killing the demon Mahisasur.
Day 4 (Chaturthi) :
We are both staying in Kolkata for not more than 4 years. So most of the roads are new to us specially the areas where we do not generally go. Since day 4 and day 5 fell on weekend this year we decided to explore some new areas.
We covered these pandals on day 4 : Chaltabagan Lohapatty (Manicktala), Santosh Mitra Square (Lebutala), Sovabazar, Ahiritola, Kumortuli Park, Hatibagan Sarbojonin, Nalin Sarkar Street, Dumdum park and AE Block Salt Lake.
Though we missed some important pandals which we could cover along our route. But it was too crowded in the afternoon and transportation was also difficult. Of course we faced more problem since most of the places were new to us 😛 We will try to improve our route plan and cover more pandals next year 🙂
Here are pics of some of the best pandals we saw on our 2nd day of pandal hopping.
Ahiritola Jubok Brindo Pandal depicts how the world is trapped in the social media net. We are so trapped in the virtual digital world that we have forgot games, books and other fun part of life.
That is why Goddess Durga is shown residing in our brain to give us wisdom. I loved their theme and concept, very relevant for now.
The main creators of Durga Idol, these artisans from Kumortuli Park make idols for majority of pandals. So obviously they will keep the best for their own Puja 😀 Durga idol here was very artistic and beautiful showcasing the immense talent of Kumortuli artists.
Dum Dum park Jubok Brindo pandal brought to life the whole tribal culture, religious beliefs, figurines and lifestyle. The pandal was very colorful and full of tribal art.
Another impressive pandal going with the tribal theme is AE Block Salt Lake. This was one of the best pandals I saw this year. They impress me every year with their beautiful theme and decor. A must watch pandal for all of you who live in Kolkata.
Day 5 (Panchami) :
The next 2 days of pandal hopping was completely dedicated to South Kolkata. This part of Kolkata is famous for their theme pandals. Most of the pandals are multi-awarding and they are on every pandal-goers go-to list.
On Panchami we covered : Abasorika, Selimpur Palli, 95 Palli, Babubagan, Jodhpur Park, Suruchi Sangha, Chetla Agrani, 66 Palli and Badamtala Ashar Sangha.
One of the most beautiful Durga Idol I saw this Puja is this Babubagan one.
95 Palli tried an innovative idea of creating reflections in the idol by passing light through number of moving screens which acted like filters.
Jodhpur Park pandal this year looked like a beautiful garden filled with enchanting trees, flowers and colorful birds.
Another unique pandal near Jodhpur Park who decorated their main pandal with symbolic taps and running water.
Suruchi Sangha is one of the highest popular Puja Pandal in South Kolkata.
Chetla Agrani Durga Puja is very close to our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s home. She draws the third eye of Maa Durga almost every year for this pandal.
2 Puja committees chose London as their theme this year : Santosh Mitra Square and Badamtala Ashar Sangha. Santosh Mitra Square prepared their pandal as replica of Buckingham Palace and the Durga Idol wore intricately decorated real gold saree. But unfortunately the pandal was not yet open for public on the day I went to see it.
So I was very eager to see what Badamtala Ashar Sangha had to offer. They decorated their pandal as a replica of London city. The pandal was really brilliantly done and looked breathtaking during evening when the lights were up. It felt like I was standing in a very colorful part of London city 🙂
Day 6 (Maha Sashthi) :
This was the most fun day in my entire Durga Puja. My best friend Antara joined us and we had a blast the whole day. Though there were some stupid mishaps as always happens when you get involved with having fun with your bestie 😀 and stop using your brain in important things 😀 😀 The mistakes added to the many colors of this day.
We covered these areas : Ekdalia, Singhi Park, Hindusthan club, Tridhara Sammilani, Deshapriyo Park, Ballygungu Cultural, Samajsebi and Hindusthan Park.
Singhi Park is not famous for their pandal. The most significant part of this pandal is their huge beautiful Durga Idol. Every year they select a particular color scheme and decorate the saree and decor of Durga Ma according to that color. This year it was blue.
Hindusthan Club decorated their whole pandal with colorful glass bottles.
Tridhara Sammilani Durga Puja is another very famous Durga Puja in Kolkata. Every year they construct one of the best pandals. This year also they did one of the best pandals as well very true to their reputation.
It was already 1PM when we came out of Deshapriyo park, as you can understand we were very hungry and exhausted. So we decided to go to a nearby restaurant called ‘Tamarind’ for some good food. You can definitely try this restaurant if you are near this area. The food is very tasty, good quality and quantity is also good. But the price is on the higher side. I feel the South Indian non veg dishes are better and must try in this restaurant. Here are some pics of our delicious lunch.
Regaining our energy after a great lunch, our next destination was Ballygunge Cultural and Samaj Sebi Sangha. We heard a lot about the longest alpona (painting) in Lake road done by the art college students. So we took that route to reach our destination.
The alpona continues from the main road to both Ballygunge Cultural and Samaj Sebi pandals.
We were very tired by evening and decided to end our Kolkata pandal hopping with our last destination Hindusthan Park.
Hindusthan Park decorated their pandal with Santal tribal tradition. The figurines and decorations were very authentic and beautiful.
The next day (Saptami) me and husband packed our bags and boarded the bus to reach my hometown Bardhaman and spent the rest of the Puja days with my parents. Our Bardhaman days will be shared in the next post.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post and knowing about our biggest festival. Hope all of you are having a good time 🙂