Kolkata: With autumn bringing a wisp of freshness in the air to welcome the advent of the mother Goddess, festive fever has gripped West Bengal with locals thronging markets, especially those in the city.
Durga Puja is celebrated every year in the Hindu month of Ashwin which often falls in September-October and commemorates Prince Rama’s invocation of the goddess before going to war with the demon king Ravana.
This autumnal ritual was different from the conventional Durga Puja, which is usually celebrated in the springtime. So, this Puja is also known as ‘akal-bodhan’ or out-of-season (‘akal’) worship (‘bodhan’).
With every passing hour, Sharat (Autumn) comes near, for the large Bengali community around the world, it means only one thing, their biggest festival, the Durga Puja, is drawing nearer and nearer.
Sharat brings a wisp of freshness into the air to welcome the advent of the mother Goddess. The wide blue sky, the mild fragrance of shiuli, glimpses of swaying Kash in the fields, and the chanting of Shakti mantras fill up the atmosphere.
The spirit of festivity breaks loose all over Bengal and wherever Bengalis have a presence. The rush has already begun. The Durga Puja Festival in Kolkata is now just a matter of a few days and one can easily discover the festive mood amongst the Bengalis.
It’s all about a mass gathering, when the BONGS from different parts of the world travel to reunite with their family and friends… flaring up the joyous mood. It’s the time when the city is in vibrant colors, where even the darkest corner glows up with sparkling lights.
Further, it is an extravaganza that unfolds the age-old tradition and culture and in contrast, it is the time when you can get hold of people in traditional wear.
During the Durga Puja Festival, the city explodes with more than a thousand thematic and colorful pandals and reveals several forms of goddess Durga idols, thus pulling in a huge number of crowds and making it one of the biggest autumn festivals in the world.
It is the time when the whole of Bengal pulsates with the unique philharmonic of conch shells, the rhythms of dhaks (drums), the “Ulu Dhyani” (tongue sounds) of Bengali women, the burning of dhoop (incense), pushpanjalis (flower offerings), and of course, the chanting of hymns and prayers.
Durga Puja is the primary festival of Bengalis and is celebrated with great pomp and show in West Bengal and in other parts of India.
The city of Kolkata enlivens during the four days of Durga Puja, starting from the day of Bodhon on Maha-Shashti and ending up with the immersion of clay idols in the river Ganges on the evening of Dashami.
Bengal specializes in preserving the age-old tradition of making clay idols. Such unmatched skills come into the limelight during the festive occasion of Durga Puja.
Months before the Puja clay artisans start to breathe in life in the images of Durga. Bamboo sticks cut in various shapes and sizes are required to make the basic structure of the idols of Goddess Durga and the platform on which the colossal statue stands. Durga’s figure is then imparted shape with straw tied with jute strings.
Creating fascinating figurines of Hindu Gods and Goddesses has been an age-old tradition for the Pals (the clay artisans). Making Durga idols is a lengthy and back-breaking process. This is done diligently and methodically by the artisans to create the most exquisite pieces of artistry.
Such is the perfection of idol making, that the skeleton structure of bamboo and straw is done by one group of artisans while the clay mixing and applications are done by another group and finally the head, palms, and feet are done by the highest graded artisans or Pals.