Durga Puja perhaps the most awaited festival of Bengal and Kolkata will live up to its sobriquet of ‘the city of joy’. Durga Puja attracts a lot of people, and the city of Kolkata comes alive for the duration of the festival.Durga Puja has forever been a larger than life affair in Bengal and has been entangled with its religious as well as cultural history.
It is that time of the year when the whole region of Bengal lights up in vibrant colors and everyone enjoys the incomprehensible feeling of togetherness. Durga Puja is the grand celebration that brings with it the familiar sound of the dhak, the beauty of the dhunuchi nach, and the engaging fragrance of Jasmine flowers.
Bengal boasts some of the most enthralling pandals with innovative themes and grand idols of goddess Durga. With more than thousand Pujas, both small and big, it is virtually impossible to enlist all of them here. So, if you are planning to go pandal-hopping during this Puja, here is a list of few of the Pujas that you simply cannot miss out on.
1. Bagbazaar Sarbojonin Durgotsav
The Puja at Bagbazaar is one of the oldest Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata has been around for more than 100 years. Back in time, it was organized outside a zamindar’s house. It is located near Bagbazaar Launch Ghat in North Kolkata. Unlike most other Pandals, the celebrations here are more traditional and a lot of emphases is laid on age-old rituals.Tthe pandal stands out for its simplicity and lack of ostentatious decorations.
Initially, the funding for the Puja usually came in from people who would willingly contribute money. The peculiar thing about this Puja is that they focus more on the rich Bengali culture and tradition. They also organize dance and art events that reflect Bengali culture in the most beautiful way possible. The Durga idol of the Bagbazar Puja Pandal is said to be one of the most beautiful ones in the city.
2. College Square Sarbojanin Durgotsav
Set close to a lake, the College Square pandal attracts huge crowds every year in part to seek blessings of Goddess Durga and in part to watch the stunning lights reflect on the calm waters of the lake. Also among the top Puja pandals in Kolkata, College Square Sarbojanin Durgotsav has been around for more than 50 years.
With impressive decorations and themes, College Square attracts thousands of visitors each day, many of whom come to witness the grand scale light decorations, the USP of the pandal. This Puja is located on the bustling College Street area in North Kolkata. With a huge pool at the center of the square, the decorations get a whole new dimension because of their reflection on the water surface.
3. Ekdalia Evergreen Durga Puja Club
Ekdalia Evergreen, since its establishment in 1943, is one of the most sought after pujas in South Kolkata. Right from the early hours of the day, you can find long serpentine queues of visitors waiting to enter the pandal. It is located near Gariahat, Ballygunge.
The one thing that attracts visitors to this Puja is the wonderful artistry that goes into the making of the pandal. The Puja mostly replicates some of the most famous temples across India. The puja committee also installs an absolutely amazing idol of Goddess Durga and that adds to the pandal’s appeal. Right from the interior decoration to the extravagant lighting, Ekdalia Evergreen Club’s Puja has something new in the store every year.
4. Sabarna Roy Chowdhury Durgotsav
This is one of the oldest traditional household pujas that you can visit. Located in Behala, Kolkata, this celebration was initiated in the year 1610 by Lakshmikanta Ray Mazumdar.
The Puja is famous for its grand rituals and devotional fervor. Their age-old wooden framework of the Durga idol still exists along with three other chalchitras or intricately designed backdrop for the idols. The immersion, which happens at Babu Ghat, is a grand ceremony and a sight to behold.
5. Shobhabazar Raj Bari Durga Puja
One more traditional household puja, the Shobhabazar Raj Bari Puja started in the year 1757 after the battle of Plassey. It is held in Shobhabazar, North Kolkata.
The puja is performed in both the houses that the family owns. Interestingly, the Durga idol is crafted inside the house and is decorated in daaker saj, ornaments made of silver and foils.
The most striking feature of this Puja is that on the day of immersion, around 60 men lend their shoulders to take the idol to the river. They also set two Indian Rollers free – the idea is to convey the message of Durga’s departure for Kailash to Lord Shiva.
Other than these, there are around 4000 odd pujas that take place in and around Bengal. Durga epitomizes strength to ward off evil and symbolizes the victory of truth.
Visiting Bengal during the Pujas will ascertain a visual treat for all, both in terms of traditional rituals, and innovative themes and idols.