A 5-day religious festival that is celebrated in makeshift pandals (temporary structures) on the street sides by people cutting across caste, creed, colour, religious affiliations and social standings; an event around which the socio-economic well-being of a large number of the people of the state revolves annually; an event where arts and culture – through the creation of idols, temporary temples in which they are set up, the lighting that decorates the neighbourhood, the food that is consumed as a part of the ritual merrymaking – attain new heights with every passing year. Yes, we are talking of Durga Puja in Bengal.
It is about the symbolic home coming of the daughter – Goddess Durga – and her children from her husband’s abode in the mountains. It is also about celebrating the triumph of good over evil. But more importantly, it is about 5 days of pure, unadulterated fun, when Bengal dons her new clothes, gorges on great food and hops from pandal to pandal in search of creativity. If community participation is the high point of this exercise, then, the willingness of the people to shed divisions in search of greater harmony is certainly what makes the pujas so special. The pujas also attract the highest number of footfalls to the city of Kolkata. Crowds that throng the pandals round the clock are a spectacle in themselves.
The practice of ranking the various pujas has added another aspect to the celebrations with the organisers. The media and the revelers celebrating victories in unique Kolkata fashion. The public involvement provides marketers a captive audience and the amount of monies pumped into the economy is huge.
Naturally, the Government wants to leave no stone unturned to ensure that this annual event is packaged and presented in a proper manner to discerning travellers from around the world. To provide further impetus to tourism, a parade – a procession of the idols on their way to River Ganges for immersion – has been put into place. The parade, which will witness the participation of the most celebrated pujas of the year, will pass through a specific route where viewers can assemble to pay the irrespects to the Goddess and witness the bedecked floats.
Kolkata Puja is already a spectacle. Efforts are on to make it THE spectacle. Won’t you be there to participate? Bengal welcomes you with open arms – come stay in our hearts, join us as we celebrate the arrival of our Mother.
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