Hinduism is described in the constitution of India not as a religion, but a way of life. And that is truly reflected in the festival of Durga Puja. Though now almost all big cities of the world – London, NewYork, Paris, Moscow,Zurich, Washington, Cologne , Berlin,Stuttgart, Hong Kong, Tokyo & Melbourne to name a few -have seen Durga Puja festival, the most fabulous of them is certainly celebrated in Calcutta or Kolkata, India.
Durga Puja festival has been integrated with the life of the people of Kolkata. It is no longer a mere goddess worship. There are numerous small handicraft industries have been flourished centring the fest. For example, the idol making provides the whole year’s income to thousands of families. Not only within the country, every year idols are flown from Kumartuli, the main centre for making idols, to Europe, UK, Australia and USA. Many almost-lost handicrafts are revived through this biggest festival of the country.
The puja is celebrated from the sixth to tenth day of bright lunar fortnight in the Bikram SambatCalendar month of Ashwin, called “Fortnight of the Goddess”. It is preceded by Mahalaya, the day of worship and remembrance of the ancestor by the son of the family. The fortnight ends with Kojagori Lokkhi Puja, which is the worship of Goddess of wealth. The festival bears the symbolism of the victory of good over evil .
The female goddess worship is uncommon in the major existing religions of the world, where the god is always male. In hinduism, however, the power of a woman has been traditionally worshipped and recognised. Also, the natural way of life, the relation between both sexes are well recognised in Hinduism. Goddess Durga is the wife of Lord Shiva and both of them are worshipped together. The concept of family has been respected in this religion. It is assumed Mother Durga comes home (earth) every year during this festival with her two daughters and two sons .
There are thousands of puja across the city of joy. Each are unique with their decorations and presentation. Here you can see, the pandal is decorated with clay pots, each containing a dancing lady.They are dressed with different ethnic wears, according to the traditional attires of different Indian states. Thus, Durga puja brings the tune of national harmony in such a big and diverse country like India.
This time of year has an aura. I can not explain you properly, but the weather is so good, sky is so blue with feather white clouds, and fragrance of night flowering jasmine , the white wild sugarcane flowers in the river banks -all together make a wonderful background for the much awaited celebration. The music, food, pandal hopping, buying first ‘saree” , staying out all night with friends without scolding from parents, first taste of freedom of adulthood from teenage , falling in love for the first time…. it is really something , it is a process of growing up .. And if you are a bengali, wherever you are, how far you grow, in these few days of the year, your body may be in your office ,but your soul will definitely be in the puja pandals.
It is almost impossible to describe the passion, the creativity and the rich cultural tradition expressed in this festival each year. I tried to share a glimpse I experienced last year in Durga puja. People may say you should visit London , Paris and New York in your life time. But, I think if you have a bucket list, you should include visiting the city of joy during Durga Puja festival once in your life time and I promise, you won’t regret it 🙂
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