Arguably or not, nothing beats the grandeur and madness of Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata. Filled with food, fun and frolic, the atmosphere in Kolkata is nothing less than a carnival – decked up in all its finery and luminous lighting, the city wakes up to intense celebration of 5-days, displaying Bengali culture at its best. The joie de vivre spirit in the air of Kolkata during this time is so acute that many draw similarities with the famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The crowd, the themed pandals, the food, the talented craftsmanship, the wholesome craziness, the irresistible spirit of locals and the cultural cocktail of traditional vs. contemporary is beyond expressions!
Durga Puja, celebrating the homecoming of Goddess Durga is once in a lifetime experience, at least for Non-Bengalis, who are yet to be introduced to our culture. Once they experience such a grand spectacle, it will give them a major travel goal every year fosho.
As for Bengalis, it has become more like a ritual to come home during October, just when Debipokkho sets in – 5-days leave during Durga Pujo is mandatory for all Bongs living in any pocket of the world (unfortunately, sometimes they don’t make it, but I am talking about the majority, who starts flooding the airports and stations from Mahalaya, the day from when this auspicious 10-day affair begins.
Pandal hopping is the heart and soul of 5-day Durga Puja celebrations. Families, friends, couples and tourists together flock from one theme pandal to another with an indomitable spirit.
Anirban Rudra, an advertising professional from Kolkata tells this author: “Pandal hopping remains one of my favorite past time during the pujas. I love to get drenched in the crowd with friends and relatives and obviously no time bar applies during the pujas. Night long adda at Madox Square or Deshapriya Park with excellent cultural programme is spending my kind of puja.”
Next, Kolkata being an epicurean paradise, food scenes during festivals receives a sudden thrust – streets come alive with foodie’s chomping down chats, egg rolls, chowmein, phuchkas and what not. Food, fun and festivities go hand in hand: “Oh! Puja is also a Food festival…Mainly all those quick, easy, road side types. An ideal time for a foodie like me,” says Anirban.
Bonedi Bari Feel
Till now, Kolkata has around 200 odd families who have preserved the traditional style of worshiping Goddess Durga for centuries. These pujos are known as Bonedi Bari Pujo; they are not like well-financed barware pujos, instead they are more like a domestic affair, held within the confinements of the house.
The celebration takes place in the thakur dalan, or a courtyard with an elevated platform adorned with arches and pillars, ancient brass chandeliers and other bric-a-brac knick knacks that takes us back in time… the women of the house takes active part in the pujo.
So, thinking of travelling to Kolkata this October? Fret not; finding the best hotels in Kolkata is not that difficult. Hotel VIP International, a 3 star hotel in Kolkata near Park Street is our favorite pick – they offer high-quality bit affordable services.
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