The Emotion Called Durga Puja

The wait has come to an end. The much-awaited time of the year is here with all what it had promised. With a longing eyes, beloved devotees counted days until they got to see you again – the revered daughter, the hope of our hearts, the protector of many aspirations, and the solace that a child finds only in his mother’s lap. From the joy of ‘Maa Ashche’ to the contentment experienced at the very first sight of you – ‘Maa Esheche’ Durga Puja is an emotion that binds the city’s many different facets.

Read about one of Kolkata’s Award-Winning Pujo – Tridhara Akalbodhan here.

As I take a walk down the Manohar Pukur Road on an early October morning, the air around seems to say – ‘It’s time for joy, it’s time for peace and it’s time to appreciate the blessings’ There can never be a better time to be at Kolkata.

I walk further ahead and notice a woman adorning the doorway with ‘alpona‘ as the sound of the ‘shankh‘ from nearby adds on to the festive spirit. A smile comes upon my face as I watch a kid talk to his mom – He says, ‘Ma, ebare amra kokhon Pujo dekhte jabo?’ (Mom, when will we go to see the Pujas this time?) A question around which everyone’s decision in Kolkata are made for these 9 days!

Most of the idols of Maa Durga, Ganesh, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Katikeya are made at Kolkata’s famous, Kumartuli. It is worth visiting the site if you want to witness the idols come into being. As per the tradition, the eyes of Maa Durga are made on Mahalaya, the day that officially announces the arrival of Durga Puja. The idols are believed to be made using soil from a brothel. The reason for this could be based on the concept of  inclusion, a principal aspect of Durga Puja, which is why it is called sarbojonin – everybody’s. You can read more about the ritual here.

Durga Puja - Kumartuli
Idols in the making

 

Durga Puja is celebrated in Ashniva, the seventh month of the Hindu calendar which usually falls in the months of September – October.

The beauty of the pandals is indeed mesmerizing but even more fascinating are the stories that the themes of the pandals narrate.

Not being very familiar with many of the concepts, I have often missed to understand the details and reasons behind the choice of themes.

Yesterday, I got a chance to speak with the organizers of 5 Pujo pandals and I was surprised to learn about the many messages that a single pandal can convey!

With this virtual tour, covering blog posts about 9 Pujo pandals across the city, I intend to share many such stories that made me look beyond the shiny decorations and I was amazed to see the confluence of creativity, devotion and relentless effort – all to celebrate the emotion called, Durga Puja!

Are you joining in?

DurgaPuja_Kumartuli_ishaspire
Picture of my friend, Aindrila Mukherjee, fondly looking at the idol of Maa Durga at Kumartuli.

Here are some of the popular Pujo Pandals of 2019 –

1. Badamtalla Ashar Sangha –

Theme: Bindu – Power of the 3rd eye.
2. Salt Lake FD Block –

Theme: ‘Elem Notun Deshe’ (Come to a New Land) The theme is inspired from fables and fairytales.

3. Sreebhumi –

Theme: The pandal this time draws inspiration from the Mauryan havelis.

4. Northern Park –

Theme: Amritsar’s beautiful Golden Temple comes to life at Kolkata’s Northern Park.

5. Chakraberia, Triangular Park

Theme: Illusions and difference in voices about attaining Moksha. The idol is beautiful and evokes a sense of peace.

6. Hindustan Park –

Theme: Nauras or the importance of expressions and perceptions

7. Tridhara – 

Theme: There is a Durga in every woman and that the women need to set themselves free from the clutches of resentment, unworthiness and anything that stops them from achieving their dreams. Read the full post here.

8. Ballygunge Cultural –

Theme: The pandal, including the jewellery of the idols is made using only bamboo! This is an eco-friendly pandal.

9. Suruchi Sangha – 

Theme: Inclusion and non-discrimination

Singer Shreya Ghoshal has given her voice to ”Utsav”, the theme song of Suruchi Sangha Durga Puja, while music director Jeet Gannguli has set the melody to it.

Watch the video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLZO2Trz5kk

I take your leave as I prep for the next pandal hopping spree tonight. Stay tuned and do share your memories of celebrating Durga Puja. Let’s add on to the festivity.

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