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Durga Puja, Kolkata

Passionate exhibition of Hindu faith in worship of Goddess Durga, Colorful and boisterous processions to immerse the statues of Maa Durga in the sea.

Location: Kolkata
Dates: October 6-11, 2016
Highlights: Passionate exhibition of Hindu faith in worship of Goddess Durga, Colorful and boisterous processions to immerse the statues of Maa Durga in the sea.

Question a fellow Bengali, “What is so special about Durga Puja?”, first they will laugh aloud and then ask you back “Do you belong to some other planet? Indeed, what is NOT so special about Durga Puja?”. Those five days are rejuvenating and scintillating! The Puja fervor, welcoming Durga.

Kolkata becomes a Puja madhouse with the thumping beats of the Dhaks (huge membranophone instrument), exquisite Puja Pandals (fabricated structures), blazing lights, quintessential food, mesmerizing dhunachi (incense burner used for one of the stages during Aarti) dance, all of it, drenched in a devotional fervor of the homecoming Goddess DURGA.

Millions of people adorn new clothes, flock up in the jam packed streets of the city, enthusiastically making their way to get glimpses of the divine Goddess. The cheerful crowd goes hopping from one pandal to the other offering anjalis.

On the very first day at day break, the invocation to the goddess is made on All India Radio to welcome her home. Art and culture flourish in this 4 day festival that captures the heart of every person and the guests visiting from far and wide. In the puja premises, you could see the men wearing their once-a-year dhotis and the women in starched cotton saris with red border- their traditional attire. The priest would be reciting Sanskrit prayers. Every evening, Aarti with a dhunuchi (incense burner used for one of the stages during Aarti) dance is performed in the pandals.

On the last day of the Puja, married bengali women celebrate their sindoor (vermilion) the ceremony known as ‘Sindoor Khela’. The females apply sindoor on the Goddess’s feet or forehead and later smear the red vermilion on each other. Later huge processions pass through the streets amid the drumbeats that makes the house tremble. One can feel the twinge of disappointment when the beautiful idol of the goddess is immersed, amidst calls of reassurance, “Aasche bochhor aabar hobe” ( Maa Durga will surely come back again next year).