Durga Puja celebrations begin in West Bengal


Kolkata : The people of West Bengal are set to welcome Goddess Durga Wednesday, the first day of the Durga Puja – the biggest festival in this part of the country.

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Durga Puja, the five-day autumn festival beginning with Shashti and ending with Dussehra, is being held with great passion at colossal puja pandals (marquees), where idols of the goddess and her four children are installed and worshipped amid much fanfare.

Pandal hopping is a popular passtime during the festival as people visit various marquees to see the artistic decorations in different parts of the city, leading to massive crowds at the venues. Kolkata Police said the puja would be celebrated at more than 3,000 venues this year.

The capital of the state is abuzz with the festive spirit and people from various parts of the country and abroad have come down for a feel of the cultural and religious extravaganza.

The state itself has several thousands pandals where people, cutting across social barriers, gather to celebrate. The pujas are also a popular occasion for reuniting with family and friends.

Apart from the community pujas, the goddess Durga is worshipped by a large number of families at their homes. Some of these pujas, held by the families for generations, are star attractions of the city. Among them are the pujas at the houses of erstwhile landlord families of Shovabazar Rajbari, Bhowanipore Mullick Bari and others.

Traditional pujas usually have medium sized idols within one frame (ek chala) and are decorated with pith.

The idols reflect the craftsmanship of the potters of Kumartuli – the colony of artisans who make the idols.

One such community Puja – Santosh Mitro Square – has taken up a unique theme of ‘Dori Dhore Maro Tann / Raja Hobe Khaann Khaann’ (pull the rope and king will fall) and the marquee has been decorated in the model of state secretariat – the Writers’ Buildings.

Another community puja at Suruchi Sangha in south Kolkata’s New Alipore has taken up the theme of green activism, and would showcase rainwater harvesting at its marquee.

Durga Puja would end Oct 17 with the immersion of the goddess’ idols in rivers and other water bodies all over the country.