Durga Puja 2018 in Kolkata – A Cultural Extravaganza
With Durga Puja festival in Kolkata just around the corner, the city is abuzz with rush, mass gatherings, lit-up markets, and sparkling light shows. It seems as if city has just been awake from a deep slumber. The festive mood has gripped the city and how! It’s that time of the year when the families, relatives, and friends reunite from all corners of the world and come together to celebrate the glory of Goddess Durga.
Celebrated in the month of October, Durga Puja festival in Kolkata is celebrated across a span of 10 days packed with elaborate rituals and a toast to the vivid culture. Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata are an exemplary proof of the creativity and enthusiasm of the artists that is translated into different themes and innovations. The grandeur of Durga Puja festival can hardly be penned down in words, it is to experience atleast once in a lifetime on a trip to India.
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Story Behind Durga Puja Festival
Each day of Durga Puja is filled with rituals and traditions different from the other day. The entire 10 days of Durga Puja celebrates the divine feminine power for its victory over the evil “Mahishasur” who had an immortal blessing of not being defeated by any man or God. The Gods channelized all their energies at one place and created Goddess Durga who then killed Mahishasur after fighting incessantly for ten days, hence the celebration for ten days. The tenth day, the final day of celebration, is also called “Vijayadashmi” – the celebration of victory of good over evil.
Durga Puja Guide
Pre-Durga Puja Affaire
The splendor and grandeur of Durga Puja festival takes immense hard work by the artists of Kolkata, preparation for which starts around two months ahead. Preparations for Durga Puja begin usually for Kolkata people with buying gifts, clothes, and home décor stuff nearly month in advance. The markets and small flea stores of Kolkata are lit up and adorned like a shy and coy new bride and can be seen thronged with people coming for shopping. Women can be seen scouring shops for sarees and dhotis or kurtas for men and kids as the festival marks a day of wearing ethnic wear by everyone.
Witnessing the city and its inhabitants gearing up for the festival in full festival mood is a sight in itself. The best time to visit Kolkata is in fact a week before the start of Durga Puja festival to soak in the festive spirit of the city to cherish for a lifetime.
Chokkhu Daan on Mahalaya
An interesting fact about Durga Puja Festival in Kolkata is that the idols placed in idols are built and adorned months in advance except for their eyes. Their eyes are drawn only on “Mahalaya”, a day before the ten-day Durga Puja festivities commence. The entire process known as “Chokkhu Daan” and marks the invitation of Goddess Durga on earth to take part in the festivities.
The best place to witness Chokkhu Daan is “Kumartuli”, one of the busiest and most popular potter’s localities in Kolkata.
Pandal Hopping in Kolkata
Pandal hopping in Kolkata is one of the most exciting things to do in Kolkata during Durga Puja. If you happen to be in Kolkata around Durga Puja, don’t miss to visit the popular and best pandals in Kolkata. Usually, the idol of Goddess Durga is placed in pandals only on the 6th day for everyone to see but now-a-days people start visiting the pandal, right from the start of the festival.
Pandal hopping in Kolkata lasts for around ten days amidst the long, serpentine-ly queues.
Arrival of Goddess in on ‘Shasti’
The Goddess Durga, when placed inside the pandals on 6th day, is known and celebrated as Shasti. Shasti marks the beginning of Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, the carnival, and its processions. After the idol of Goddess Durga is lifted from the place where she was originally made, the procession is preceded by people dancing to the tunes of Dhak (drums). The Goddess Durga’s idol is accompanied by the idols of Ganesh, Karthikeya, Saraswati, and Lakshmi. One of the many customs of Durga Puja Festival is to light 108 diyas to start the festivities.
Offering Pushpanjali during Durga Puja festival is the time when people fast until they offer prayers at a local pandal. On the day of Pushpanjali, people wake up early and get dressed in new ethnic clothes and fast until they offer prayers.
The fasting, after prayers, is ended by a feast called “bhog” which is blessed by Goddess Durga and is then served to all. It is believed that such is the magic in Her divinity that there is always food for everyone and nobody leaves the pandal hungry.
Kumari Puja on Mahashtami
Mahashtami is celebrated on the 8th day of Durga Puja festival and is a cute and unique ritual. On Mahashtami, small girls aged up to 9-10 years are dressed as Goddesses and worshipped. Te small girls are seen as pure and hence they are believed to be the manifestations of divinity and purity to worship. The girls are offered food, gifts, and flowers. Girls are often dressed in bold red or yellow outfits and are made to bathe in the holy Ganga River.
Family Bonding @ Meal
Durga Puja isn’t just about never-ending customs, rituals and pandal hopping but also a great time to feast upon the local Kolkata street food. A great fest for ten days, Durga Puja is an ideal time to bond over with family and friends and gorge upon the sumptuous and popular dishes of Kolkata offered in various pandals and markets. After-all, after pandal hopping and offering early morning prayers, everyone deserves to be treated.
Also Read: Plan a holiday in India during holi festival
Sindoor Khela on Vijayadashmi
After the crazy 9-day festivities comes Vijayadashmi – the last day of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata. Besides bidding farewell to Goddess Durga and the festivities, there is also another exciting tradition of Sindoor Khela played and enjoyed by married women. This is such a colorful way to end the celebration where the married women apply sindoor or vermillion on Goddess Durga and then smear on each other’s faces.
A Heartwarming Farewell – Visarjan
Visarjan is the last day to mark an end to the crazy ten-day festivities in Kolkata. The idols of Goddess Durga and her kids are given a teary-eyed farewell amidst much fanfare, singing, and, dancing. A large procession with drums and idols is carried out on the roads and is followed till the place of Visarjan where the idols of Goddesses are respectfully immersed in the holy Ganga River with a promise to come next year.
Durga Puja festival in Kolkata reflects majorly upon the rich and exuberant culture of India and no words can define the grandeur and beauty of this stunning festival. If there is a list of must see festivals in India, then Durga Puja surely top the list.
The best way to experience its magical divinity is to plan a trip to Kolkata, India in September or October. Get best price offers on a family holiday to India from Vue India Tours, one of the most trusted names in crafting customized Indian holiday packages for over two decades.