Bengal soaks in festive spirit as Durga Puja begins


Kolkata : Durga Puja, the five-day autumn carnival of the Bengalis, began with wild enthusiasm Wednesday with West Bengal decking up with bright lights and giant marquees to greet a surge of humanity flocking to savour the best of Indian craftsmanship and culture.

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The festivities began with Mahashashthi celebrations as goddess Durga, who arrives with children Laxmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesha, was invoked, setting the mood for five days of unalloyed revelry and socialization.

Mahashashthi would be followed by Mahasaptami, Mahashtami, Mahanavami and Mahadasami, the last day of the festival when the goddess is taken out in procession for immersion.

Kolkata, which boasts of around 400 community pujas this year – dominated by varied themes – including the temples of Java, a Santhal village, the Hogwarts Castle of Harry Potter and global warming – reflecting social concerns and depicting creativity at its best.

Eminent painter Jogen Chowdhury has recreated the ancient temples of Java at Selimpur in south Kolkata.

“Images of these ancient temples will greet visitors as they walk through the pandal,” he said.

At Ramgarh Jaishrinagar, Dakshineswar, on the banks of the Hooghly, the pandal is based on the wonders of Egyptian civilisation. Here, the pyramids have been created with jute bags and papers.

The pandal at F.D. Block in Salt Lake has already captured headlines with its replica of Harry Potter’s school of magic with a summons from the Delhi High Court on copyright violations. The giant-sized Hogwart’s Castle shooting up in the sky is a delight not just for children but for all.

While people have started pandal-hopping wearing new clothes right from the morning, the crowd was expected to swell in the evenings on all five days.