In a few days , and you will find this entire city filled with Lights, Sweets, Brotherhood, people from all sects and religion comes to celebrate “Durga Puja”. Yes I am talking about Kolkata, the land of Goddess Durga and Kali. The city that boasts more than 15 festivals round the year. But this is the main festivals especially among the Bengali’s. Its just a festivity of the Good against the bad. The city is awaken 24×7, you can feel it breathing. This city doesn’t sleep, and so does the city dwellers. “Durga Puja” is celebrated across India in the same valor and fun but in this article I am concentrating only on, the world renowned Kolkata’s ‘Durga Puja’ or ‘Durgo Pujo’ as it is pronounced in bengali.
This pujo is unique, its fun everywhere. People come to the streets to enjoy the marvelous Pandals (the place where the deity is kept). The way this festival is celebrated is different then any other festival. There are basically 4 main days namely, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, Dashami. You won’t find so many people on the streets ever in any other city. They are in millions. Everyone, children, elders, just ‘pandal-hoppers’. They main pandals are College square, Shreebhumi, Muhammad ali park, Madison square etc etc.
The word ‘pandal’ means a temporary structure, made of bamboos and cloth, used as a temporary temple for the purpose of the puja. The pandals are divided by the location or community. Each community would have a pandal of its own, small or big. These pandals would be surrounded by various hawkers and stalls which sell like a million things. You may even find a small circus going on near by. The pandals are at there best, filled with lights, colors, Idols of giant deities, remarkable embroidery , they even carry a theme like current affairs, natural calamities, recyclable environment, part of historical events etc. The best time to visit the pandals is between 11pm to 3am when the crowd is comparatively peaceful.
The one thing people go crazy about is, “Dandiya”, the famous Gujarati dance.(A lot of Gujarati’s live in Kolkata). They happen in almost all star hotels and clubs across the city. Its a time when the family members in traditional cloths comes together and enjoy the beats of traditional Indian Music. You can find people doing disco dandiya (when the tempo of these traditional songs is more) or rain dandiya (when their is a thunderstorm and you don’t feel like leaving the dance floor). Shopping utsav happens in markets like Esplanade, Burra Bazar, Gariahat. Buying new cloth is a tradition. And dont forget to try bengali delicacies like sweets, misti dohi(sweet curd).
Just one suggestion, just visit Kolkata during “Durgo Pujo” and I guarantee you that, you wont have a second left. The unique thing is how strangers become friends in a short period. The city just soaks you in. You will get involved so much that you will forget the rest of the world. There is no end to your fun quotient.
Rohit Dassani is one of the top culinary reviewer on Zomato/TripAdvisor for the last 5years. By profession he is a IT Professional who escapes to world of food whenever he gets a chance. You can reach him via contact page or email!