There’s a list of take away from Durga Puja of Kolkata and I am going to share them, reminiscing the just spent Durgotsav, 2021. Durga Puja or Durgotsav is far beyond a religious festival. It is an emotion and an experience in itself. Everything about this festival is hyperbolic for a Bengali.
Understanding Art, the first and foremost take away from Durga Puja
Durga Puja implies pandals, lights and music. Teams of artists and artisans plan and work for the whole year to execute a theme for the design of a pandal, pandal decor, idol appropriate for the theme and the lighting and music in sync with the theme. People from all over the world come to have a feel of Kolkata’s Durgotsav.
Let me make it simple for the people who haven’t visited Kolkata during the Durga Puja. For example, a club called Sarbodaya Sammiloni in North Kolkata wanted to focus on the folk arts getting lost with urbanisation and technological outbursts. They gathered the Pingla artists of Midnapur district of West Bengal to come to Kolkata and work on the designs and decor of the pandals. The clay idol is made in such fashion that it matches pingla art figures. Light folk music is continuously played teleporting visitors to the village of the Pingla artists. Similarly, several clubs exist and come up with numerous themes which often have social significance. Some even make replicas of popular monuments of the world like the Trevi Fontana and Burj Khalifa. The magnificence cost no less. Durga Puja is a seasonal industry.
The Virtue of Patience, a significant take away from Durga Puja
If pandal hopping is the primary activity of the people, how can you escape the mad rush? Traffic jam is common but people hardly care. Everyone goes pandal hopping, everyone is on the road, dressed up in new clothes, shoes and accessories. From a child to an old person, almost everyone is so excited that they tend to excuse the long traffic hours for the few days of Durga Pujo. I would say, patience is another key take away from Durga Puja. Talking of patience, well, there are ques and long waiting for everything you want to do during Durgotsav; be it entering a pandal, pushpanjali, last moment shopping and its billing and/or at the restaurant.
Positive Aura of Festivity, a major take away from Durga Puja
The enchanting Aarti of Maa Durga includes rhythmic chants together with dhaak, the soothing smell of dhoop-dhunuchi (incense), sound of bells (kanshor-ghanta) and shankho (conch), is self invoking. The aarti is like dancing to the beats of the universe while glorifying the mother goddess, often considered as welcoming the daughter home. Dhunuchi nach (dance with dhunuchi) is fun and divine at the same time. The evening aarti and the 108 diyas (lamps) of Sandhi Puja takes one to a transcendental level. Spiritual cleansing is a common experience.
Participation in Cultural and Social Activities
Numerous cultural activities, competitions and social activities take place during Durgotsav. During Durga Puja, donations to the needy is a common phenomenon, be it food, clothing, woollens, medicines and/or books. There is enormous joy in participating in such social activities. Cultural activities like music, dance, drama and ethnic fashion show are staged. Management, production and creativity are in full bloom, this season. Various competitions and games are also arranged with the elements from Durgotsav in mind. People dress up in new clothes. In our busy lives, these are the few days of adorning ourselves in ethnic wear.
Food, Quintessential Take Away from Durga Puja
Street food, luxury eating, home cooked delicacies and bhog; everything is to be explored. Numerous local street make shift street food joints are made during these 5 days of Durga Pujo. Many restaurants serve special Bengali menu. For a lot of people, Durga Pujo is coming back home, so even if food is home cooked, they are special, served with a lot of love. It is time for eating together. Durga Puja’s bhog (the food cooked for the Puja) is delicious too. If you have not tasted bhog, you have actually missed something. Foodgasm is an unavoidable take away from Durga Pujo.
Solace in Pujabarshiki
In spite of the fact that there is so much happening around, chief attraction of a Bengali is ‘Pujabarshiki’ since time immemorial. Pujabarshikis are Durga Puja special magazines written by popular Bengali authors. There are some who want to avoid rush, Pujabarshiki is a must for them. Basically, good Bengali literature is also another take away from Durga Puja.
‘Sindur Khela’ and ‘Bishorjon’ (Immersion)
Dashami marks the last day of Durga Puja. ‘Boron’ (greeting) the mother goddess is a ritual and is incomplete without ‘sindur khela’ (vermilion games). Women dress up so beautifully and look even more gorgeous with the red vermilion marks on them. This part of the ritual celebrates shakti, triumph of good over evil. Understanding of the significance of woman power or womanhood is my most important take away from Durga Puja.
The idol of Devi Durga is finally bid good bye and immersed. Bhashan or immersion is painful but Bengalis start planning for the next Durga Puja from then onwards. Photographers have their best captures from these events.
Final Take Away From Durga Puja
‘Coming home to Durga Puja’ is my take away from Durga Puja. The celebrations keep reminding me that I am my home. Subho Bijoya
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