India is a land of diverse culture, languages, and traditions. The massive diversity adds different colors to each region of the nation in the form of festivals! Visiting any of the towns or cities of India while the people there are indulged in celebrating a local festival is a way of coming close to the actual rituals and traditions followed by the people there. There are some festivals which are celebrated in some states of the nation which create waves of happiness around a large area! Durga Puja celebrated in Bengal is one of the grandest Indian festivals. Bengalis are known for Durga Puja among many other things like roshogollas, mishit doi and Rabindra Sangeet!
Durga Puja celebrates the victory of Maa Durga over Mahishasur. The festival denotes the triumph of Good over Evil. It is celebrated in the month of Ashwin according to the Hindu calendar which generally falls in September or October. Maa Durga is said to pay a visit to her father’s home during the days of the celebration from Kailash along with her children. The pandals house Maa Durga along with goddess Lakshmi, goddess Sarasvati, Lord Ganesh, and Lord Kartika. Lord Shiva is also revered during the festival. The festival starts on the day of Mahalaya which marks the date of Goddess Durga’s advent in the battle against evil. The celebrations and festive worship of Goddess Durga along with her children start on the sixth day known as Shashti.
The whole of Bengal gets into the mood of fun and frolic right from this day and happiness knows no bounds. This day is followed by Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and finally Dashami. Visiting Kolkata during this time of the year is something you will never regret in your life.
Beauty of the city during the festival
Bengalis are famous all over for their love and skills in the fields of art and literature. Come to Kolkata during this festive season and you will see for yourself why they are loved and honored everywhere for these skills. The making of the idols of the gods and goddesses start as early as on the month of June or July on the day of Rath Yatra. The gods and goddesses are made of different sizes; some of them are colossal images which will demand appreciation and respect from the beholders. As if those beautifully made perfect idols were not enough, these idols are housed in wonderfully decorated pandals with elaborate designs.
However, this is not the case if the Puja is to be done at home. The entire city of Kolkata gets flooded in decorations of light and happiness during the night. Nowadays many pandals adopt certain themes to which they adhere while designing their mandap and goddess. Ornate decorations are made which are sure to leave the beholders spellbound. The construction of these pandals also starts three to four months before the celebration. Needless to say, Bengalis wait for this grand festival throughout the year. So, shopping for new clothes and accessories also start at least a month before the festival.
Things to do during the festival
Once you are in Kolkata during this festive season, you have too many ways of enjoying the festival. You are lucky if you have a friend or relative in Kolkata during this festival but even if you don’t, there is no need to worry! Bengalis are at their best kind of manners during the festival, you can easily make a new friend.
- Pandal hopping is something you simply cannot miss when you are in the city of joy during this time. You will be mesmerized with the artistic skills. However, given the huge number of Pandals in the city, you must organize your tour accordingly! Some of the pandals that simply cannot be missed are College square, Kumartali Park, Suruchi Sangha, Deshopriyo Park, Santosh Mitra Square. Be warned that the Pandals are extremely crowded and you have to be very patient before you get your turn of going in.
- Ashtami happens to be the most important day of the Puja. One of the best things to do on this day is going for the Pushpanjanali. Wake up early in the morning, take a bath, dress up in traditional Bengali attire and visit the nearest puja pandal. This ritual is not only meant for praying to the goddess but also for finding yourself a date for the evening whom you might end up marrying as well! On a serious note, if you wish to witness the rituals up close, visit a traditional ‘Bonedi Bari’ puja or Belur where you will even get to see Kumari Puja. The afternoon remains incomplete without ‘Bhog’ which is a platter full of Bengali dishes, a lunch to remember!
- Dashami is the last day of puja. If you are a lady, make sure to visit the nearest pandal cladding in white saree with red border! All Bengali ladies indulge in ‘Sindur Khela’ on the morning of Dashami where they color each vermilion after they are done feeding sweets to the gods and goddesses and bidding them farewell. It is similar to Holi, just that men are not allowed! This ritual is a mixture of emotions for all Bengalis. It brings happiness and sorrow at the same time. Sorrow because the wait for one more year starts from that very day.
How to get there
Kolkata has excellent connecti vity with the rest of the world. There are regular flights to Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport from home and abroad. You can also reach the city of joy by train to Howrah or Sealdah station. If you live nearby the city, avail the bus services and get to the city of joy. In whichever way, you reach the city, once you are there, the festive season will instantly boost up your mind!
Luxury Hotels in Kolkata
There are thousands of hotels in Kolkata where you can stay. Coming to the luxury hotels, some of them are J.W. Marriott, Park Hotel, Novotel, and Kenilworth. All of the hotels are decorated especially during the festival and add unique Bengali dishes. So, your stay at the luxury hotels is going to be more special than ever before!