Durga Puja preparations in Kolkata
Proudly displaying his near completed statue of Goddess Kali in preparation for Durga Pooja More Photos
Durga Puja is widely celebrated in Kolkata and West Bengal where it is a five-day annual holiday. It is the biggest Hindu festival celebrated in the city and is also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society. In Kolkata alone, there are apparently more than 2,500 large pandals (temporary structures set up to venerate the goddess) are found througout the city - all clamouring for the admiration and praise from the public. The atmosphere in the city, adorned with lights during the festival, is akin to a carnival with thousands of people going 'pandal-hopping' with their friends and family. The festival, a five day public holiday, and culminates on the 6th day when the idol is taken for immersion in a procession amid loud chants and music to the Hoogly River. The casting of the figure into the waters is symbolic of the departure of the deity to her home to return to her husband in the Himalayas.
Workers in the crowded quarter of Kolkata devoted to making festival figures for Durga Puja. More Photos
Unfortunately we were in Kolkata before the actual Durga Puja celebrations. Nevertheless it was still a great experience walking through the markets in the days leading up to the festival and getting to see the preparations at work.
In particular, it we got to see them preparing beautifully decorated and large clay statues of Goddess Durga which are key to the Durga Puja celebrations. We went to a area of Calcutta that specialises in making the figures.
What was wonderful about the experience was seeing so many shops / vendors working away for their main earning source for the year. We saw everthing from earth / clay being brought into the market, figures being sculpted and carved out, painted, and also the completed product.
Based on the passion with which the workers were making the statues, I can only imagine the passion with which Durga Pooja is celebrated in Kolkata. Really wish we were there but time simply wouldn't permit it.
- Written on: 30 Jun 2009
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