West Bengal, being the origin of Durga Puja celebrations in India, witnesses few of the largest Durga Puja Pandals, commemorating this auspicious event. Visiting Kolkata during Durga Puja is a memory that is to be cherished for a lifetime. It is a festival celebrated with utmost joy for ten days during the Ashwin month of the Hindu calendar. This year, the Navratri will start from 7th October 2021 and continue for the next ten days.
The celebration of the Durga puja in West Bengal starts weeks before the actual puja. People start buying new clothes, jewelry, shoes, and other home decor item. The enthusiasm and liveliness mark this phase as the ‘Pujo bojar’ phase in West Bengal. The shops start giving out various impressive discounts and offers during this phase. From malls to the footpath shops, we can see a huge crowd even till late at night.
The preparation of the idols and the festival itself begins weeks before the first day of the Navratri. However, the eyes of the murtis are not drawn while preparing the deity. It is a traditional belief that goddess Durga sets her foot on earth while drawing the eyes of the murtis. Hence, the people of West Bengal perform rituals during Mahalaya, and on this day, the eyes are drawn, which is a symbol of welcoming goddess Durga to Earth. This event is known as Chokku Daan.
Pandal preparation is another joyful event in West Bengal and many other Indian states. The government spends a lot of funds on pandals. Across Kolkata, one can witness some of the largest pandals during Durga Puja, and each pandal is entirely different from one another. Most of the pandals carry out a theme or a concept every year. In 2020, many of the pandals were based on the Covid theme. The deity was beautifully carved to kill the greatest demon of real-time that they popularly named Coronasuras.
In most places, the most magnificent pandal also receives prizes by the end of Durga Puja.
Bringing home the deity
After preparing pandals and practicing the rituals, people bring the goddess Durga murtis and place her on the pandals on the sixth day of Navratri. The idol is brought home through a procession where the beautiful sound of the Dhaak awakens the entire state of West Bengal. After placing goddess Durga on the platform, people offer sweets, fruits, jewelry, etc., and place it near the idol’s foot.
Kola Bou ritual
The worship or ritual of Kola Bou is another big event in West Bengal and other eastern or northeastern states. In this ritual, a banana tree is represented as a banana bride. People turn her into a goddess with the help of many rituals. She is wrapped in red clothing, and people worship her along with the other deity idols.
On Mahasaptami or the seventh day of Navratri, people take Kola Bou in a palanquin to bathe her. This event is one of the most important events in West Bengal.
On the tenth day of Navratri, people bid their goodbyes to the goddess. On this auspicious day, Goddess Durga killed Mahishasur and protected the world. Hence, people carry out a big procession with loud beats of Dhaak deafening the entire state. Goddess Durga is taken to the ghats and people bid give their last prayers by immersing the deity idols in the water.
Throughout the ten days of Durga Puja, Kolkata turns into heaven of food. People can enjoy varieties of food items along with the Dhuna Dance performed by Bengali women. Spending a beautiful Puja vacation in Kolkata is a mesmerizing experience. One must surely visit Kolkata in their next Puja vacation after covid.