Durga Puja is one of the biggest religious and cultural extravaganzas of India. While this is celebrated on a pan India basis, one must visit Kolkata, to soak in its real magic.
Visiting India during Durga Puja can be the most happening life’s experiences. Everything is unique about this Hindu festival. It is all about the battle of Goddess Durga against the demon, Mahisasura. The battle spreads over nine days when the Goddess won over the demon at last. This is not only a religious festival but the celebration of life as well.
Food, fun, and frolic are the charms of this grand festival. The city does not sleep during the festive season. Its joyous spirit can be compared with the Rio de Janeiro carnival. There are large crowds on the road hopping from one ‘pandal’ to another, throughout the night, to see the gorgeously decorated idol of the Goddess with her two sons and two daughters. The city also glows with its themed decoration and incredible lighting.
“Kolkata is foodie’s paradise. For binging on them you have to be a local and try the street foods. You may try ‘roll’ and ‘momo’. The roll is almost like a ‘wrap’ or a ‘Frankie’ and the ‘momo’ is the Tibetan version of the dumpling. Do not worry if you are a veggie. Veg things are also available,” said Mr alexandrovski smilingly, while sharing his experience.
There is a lot of things to do during this festival. It is better to reach a few days earlier and visit ‘Kumartuli’ where the majority of the clay idols are made. Kolkata becomes a different place during the Durga Puja festivities. Bathed in the light it looks like a paradise on earth. Cultural functions are also held during this time as a part of social celebration. One can also visit the metropolitan vicinities for watching the festivity.
Everyday ‘Bhog’ is offered to the goddess and distributed to the devotees afterward. One can also watch the “Kumari” (virgin) Puja on the 9th day. Goddess Durga is also considered as the daughter of each family.
“I was lucky to stay with Rita’s family. She lives in the northern part of Kolkata. Together, we roamed in the evening and saw how families celebrate the festival. Everyone wears ethnic dress and dances to the tune of the drum. It created a magnificent ambiance. Ladies played with vermillion on the last day before immersion. Their cheeks turned red and Rita was not spared. It was a great gathering for everyone. Look, I am not a Hindu. But I would visit India again during Durga puja for the love of celebration and the hospitality I got,” Mr. Alexandrovski further added.
Astounding celebrations happen on the tenth day when colorful processions are held with the idols. People dance, play drums to the river to immerse the idol, and bid adieu to the Goddess with the request to come next year.
To enjoy the celebration to the fullest one must dress and eat like the locals and get lost. Only then, you can feel the festive pulse of the country.