Sunday, 21 October 2012

Glimpse of Kolkata's Durga Puja - Day 1

Hey Pretties

Durga Puja is on in full swing in my hometown and I'm very much in the Pujo mode now. Wearing new clothes, getting ready to go out with friends, pandal hopping till late night, having junk food at 2.00 am..all of this and much more make up the 5 day festivities. For all of you who are not aware of what this festival means to us Bengalis, here's an extract of a piece by Vir Sanghvi, a non-Bengali who has so brilliantly captured the essence of the Kolkata pujo....

The essence of Puja is that all the passions of Bengal converge: emotion, culture, the love of life, the warmth of being together, the joy of celebration, the pride in artistic expression and yes, the cult of the goddess. It may be about religion. But is about much more than just worship. In which other part of India would small, not particularly well-off localities, vie with each other to produce the best pandals? Where else could puja pandals go beyond religion to draw inspiration from everything else? In the years I lived in Calcutta, the pandals featured Amitabh Bachchan, Princes Diana and even Saddam Hussain! Where else would children cry with the sheer emotional power of Dashimi, upset that the Goddess had left their homes? Where else would the whole city gooseflesh when the dhakis first begin to beat their drums? Which other Indian festival - in any part of the country - is so much about food, about going from one roadside stall to another, following your nose as it trails the smells of cooking?

To understand Puja, you must understand Calcutta. And to understand Calcutta, you must understand the Bengali. It's not easy. Certainly, you can't do it till you come and live here, till you let Calcutta suffuse your being, invade your bloodstream and steal your soul. But once you have, you'll love Calcutta forever. 

Wherever you go, a bit of Calcutta will go with you. I know, because it's happened to me. And every Puja, I am overcome by the magic of Bengal.

Here's a glimpse of the first day..

Will post more pics in the coming days. Now gotta get ready to go out again :)...Tatas


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