Durga Puja in Kolkata is one of the grand festivals of India celebrated with a zeal that can only be felt when you are there right in Kolkata, the city that doesn’t sleep for 4 days during Durga Puja. It can, in fact, be compared with major extravagant festivals of the world.
You have so many festivals doing rounds in the world. You see every culture has their glory, epitome and reasons to rejoice. Let us speak of the extravaganza of Rio de Janeiro Carnival in Brazil or the La Tomatina festival of Spain or may be the essence of triumph and fest of Chinese New Year. And why not the craze of our homeland India during Diwali! Every festival has their essence and mark. The feeling of happiness and making memories with your loved ones is something that you look forward to every year.
And with this symbolism keeping alive, every year the Bengalis celebrate the worship of Goddess Durga during the autumn. If you have been ever been to Kolkata during the Durga Puja you would have witnessed that it is no less than any other carnivals around the world. The fun and excitement, which runs through the blood of Bengalis, is at par to any other festivals. Why should we demarcate the festivals to the land of Bengalis, rather you will be witnessing the same excite of Durga Puja almost everywhere whether it is Glasgow or Liverpool in the UK or Houston in the United States.
The four days of the Puja celebrates being human along with own community. This festival is meant for everyone regardless of age, caste, color, creed or gender. It is not just the city of West Bengal; wherever you look, it is the same.
The entire West Bengal changes into a dreamland. Just after the Mahalaya, after hearing “The Annihilation of the Demon” over the FM Radio, our celebration puts a mark. Almost everyone is quite known to this mythological story where the mighty Goddess Durga (the incarnation of Shakti) kills the demon Mahishasura, with open arms and hearts filled with incomprehensible emotions to save the Earth from demon’s torture.
So from North to South of Bengal, from Kolkata to Purulia, or Siliguri to Diamond Harbor everywhere pandals, beautiful lightings keep stealing our heart. Through the pandals, the face of the idols keep changing but the spirit remains the change along with the central features of the Goddess. We are more into thematic Puja and art decorations, but some traditions are yet unchanged. There are certain facts that a Bengali can always relate to Durga Puja, no matter where it is celebrated.
Let us rejoice some of the exquisite trademarks of authentic Durga Puja in Kolkata
Facts about Durga Puja in Kolkata that every Bengali relates to!
Nothing Can Stop You from Attending Ashtami’s Anjali
The eighth day of Navratri is called Ashtami. This day of Goddess’s coming is celebrated with huge pomp and splendor. No Bengali misses the pushpanjali or flower offering on Ashtami. You will be able to witnesses that every house bathe early in the morning, wears their new clothes and arrives at respective pandals or Puja halls bang on time to offer flowers to the Goddess with repetition of chants. Every stranger comes together to celebrate this auspicious moment. It has been continuing since ages and none of the Bengalis has ever stepped down from this observation.
Can’t Miss the Enigma of Sandhi Puja
The spectacular part of the Durga Puja celebration is Sandhi Puja that is observed on the ninth day of the festival, on Navami, just when Ashtami ends and Navami begins. This ceremony holds special significance since this is believed to be the time when Goddess Durga killed the buffalo demon Mahishasura after nine days of battle. Sandhi Puja marks triumph of the good and defeat of the evil. Now what is that not changed after all these years. Well, everything related to this time. Every year people celebrate Sandhi Puja making arrangements of 108 lotus flowers, 108 lamps, platefuls of sweets, a large pot of rice, wood apple leaves (the famous bilva patra!), hibiscuses or jaba flowers and vermilion. When the lamps are lightened, the ambience is something, the one that you love to cherish all through your years.
Grooving to the Moves of Dhunuchi Dance
Dhunuchi dance is one of the largest attractions of the Durga Puja. It is one of the ritualized forms of dance worship performed by both men and women. Traditionally people used to perform this dance after ashtami or navami’s arati, but now things have changed. In every type of puja, whether you celebrate them at locality or inside the house, dhunuchi dance is something compulsory that is done almost every day of Durga Puja. You cannot think Puja without it.
Now what’s dhunuchi? – Well it is an earthenware consisting of a burning coal at the bottom, which makes the coconut husk above it catch fire as soon as camphor is sprinkled on it. Generally, dancers hold two dhunuchis in two hands and in case there are three, then they hold one between teeth. It is something to see when men women perform this very artistic dhunuchi dance.
Dancing to the Beats of Dhak
Dhak or Bengal drums whatever you might call it, is something, which Bengalis love to hear when the Puja ensues. The Puja is not declared complete until the dhak is played. The devotees play the dhak during the worship of the goddess Durga. It helps to set the mood of the festival and fills the air with rejoice. The excitement soars and the crowd loves to dance to beat of the dhak and pulls a huge crowd without a fail.
Bhog is Something Inevitable during Durga Puja
Bhog is the food offered to the Goddess throughout the four days. After it is offered to the Goddess then the common people is allowed to taste the delicacies. The food ranges from pulao to alu dum, luchi to cholar dal, chutney to misti doi and many more exquisite and exclusive Bengali delicacies. But the most favorite Durga Puja Bhog of a Bengali still remains Khichuri and Chhochhori (rice dal preparation khichdi and mixed vegetable dish having exclusive aroma and taste!)
‘Adda’ – The Gossip and Chat during Durga Puja
Adda is something without which people of Bengal can’t live. And it is at its height during Durga Puja. Adda, by the way is chatting with friends and family or anyone you love to be with. It’s spending time with your loved ones talking and gossiping and enjoying all the while!
As said earlier, Puja is for all so the chat and gossip with your friends near the pandal or at the premises of your house is something that a person cannot avoid in Durga Puja. People who stay in Kolkata or those who come from distant lands during Puja, simply cannot resist giving ‘Adda’ or chattings with each and everyone known. And Puja is the most ideal time to relax, chat and speak your heart out.
Well, these were some of the facts that are so common to Kolkata people that they do not look like anything amazing to them, but yes they are! Bengalis love to live these moments of unexplainable charm during Puja holidays. They are continuing since a long time and we hope that Bengalis will roll these traditions forever. To witness a great Durga Puja, be there in Kolkata, at any Pandal near you!