ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Durga Pujo and Pandal-hopping

Celebrations spill on to the streets of Kolkata during Durga pujo, making it an extraordinary time for those visiting the city.

A s a Bengali, I always thought I knew everything about Durga Pujo. Five-day-long celebrations, wearing new clothes every day, keeping count of the number of Durga idols you see, the adda (a meeting place for friends) at the pandals followed by servings of bhog (meal offered to the ­deity and served to those visiting the pandal), cultural programmes, and a huge number of people walking all over the city. Then, on the day of Vijayadashami, fondly known as ­Bijoya, we are all ready with ghugni (spiced chickpea gravy) and payesh (kheer or rice pudding) for friends and family who visit. Most of my experiences of Durga Pujo were from outside Bengal. Yet, Kolkata managed to surprise me when I first visited the city during the Pujo two years ago. The grandeur, magnificence, and the mass appeal of the cele­brations is striking. It is an extravaganza of art and culture, and it almost feels like you are witnessing the Renaissance in action.

One could make comparisons with Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra, Dussehra in northern India, and Navratri in western India, but one will not be able to understand the essence of this festival unless one has been to Kolkata and experienced it first-hand. While comparing Durga Pujo with Christmas in New York would not be quite right—it’s true that all of New York City is decked up for the occasion, but being out on the streets on Christmas Day can be really lonely as mostof the city shuts down while people celebrate indoors with friends and family—some compare the festival to the Brazilian carnival. I must say I have not been to Brazil to experience the carnival first-hand, but the closest experience I have had is at the Maastricht carnival in the Netherlands. Although the roots of the carnival originated in religion, over the years it has turned into a mass celebration. People dress up in the most creative manner and are out on the streets celebrating. When you are there, you cannot but feel the feverish vibes of the festivities. You can feel it on the streets, at the train stations, and among the people. Similarly, during Pujo, it seems that the young and old are all out of their homes and on the streets. It’s a celebration for the entire community. There is something for everyone: the religious, people from other faiths, and even non-believers.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Updated On : 22nd Nov, 2018
Back to Top