Durga Puja

Why To Go

When you start thinking about a particular place, what are the few things that strike your mind? What is it famous for, what is its cultural heritage, what is the ideal time to visit the place so that its beauty and charm can be witnessed wholeheartedly? For Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, there are too many factors that attract a tourist to take a tour of the town. One of them being the regional festival of West Bengal, Durga Puja. Durga Puja is one of the grand

religious festivals in India that is celebrated even in the countries abroad.

Lovingly called as Pujo by the Bengalees, Durga Puja is the most celebrated and glorious festival of West Bengal.

It has risen in grandeur, and people of all backgrounds, irrespective of their religious views, have started participating in it.

Maa Durga, as the Bengalis call her, arrives on a lion, her ten arms wielding weapons of war. At her feet lies the villain, the Mahishasura, the symbol of evil, slain, blood spurting out of his chest which has just been pierced by her spear. Durga is flanked on either side by her four children. Her two daughters Lakshmi and Saraswati, goddesses in their own right – the former of wealth and the latter of knowledge – are escorted by their faithful mascots, the owl and the swan, respectively. Also accompanying Durga are her two sons, the pious Ganesha and the foppish Kartikeya, piggybacked on their mascots, the rat, and the peacock, respectively. The clay idols, dressed up in colourful cloth and glittering gems, brandishing an assortment of articles such as weapons of war and musical instruments, are not less than six feet in height.

On the day of Dashami the idols are immersed in the Ganges and there is ‘Misty mukh’ and ‘Sindoor khela’, whereby married women smear each other with vermillion and pray for their well beings.. People embrace each other and offer sweets and pray for everyone’s prosperity and well being. The people wait another one year for Maa’s home coming.

Travel Tips

Kolkata and the other parts of West Bengal remain chaotic owing to the festival, almost everyone out in the streets making the city overcrowded and their high spirited souls to enjoy the four days to the fullest. Indeed acknowledged as one of the major festivals in India as well as abroad, Durga Puja can leave any tourist visiting the city and experiencing the festival in a state of awe and amazement with the arrangements and grandeur that each of the puja pandals have. A few tips for the tourists to help experience a hassle-free and enjoyable Durga Puja include: Prepare an itinerary of pandal hopping that is practical to accomplish. Many big and renowned pandals are located at close distances from one another. You can choose one area and finish visiting most of the pandals in that zone in one go. There will be difficulties in car parking. It is better to park the car at some nearby locality if there is no parking space allotted near the Durga Puja pandal. When it comes to food, there are many options to choose. Road side eateries and food stalls offer deliciuous dishes, from biriyani to chowmein, from cutlets to rolls, from ice creams to spicy chats… you can savour your taste buds with ease. Also do check the special buffets that are arranged by some of the premium hotels and restaurants. While visiting different pandals do carry cameras or mobile phones with cameras to capture the special moments. Be careful with your personal belongings while visiting the different pandals.

Things To Do

Durga Puja is the celebration of homecoming of Goddess Durga with her children, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswati, Lord Kartik, and Lord Ganesha. The entire puja is about her triumph of good over evil and is a symbol of eliminating all worries of her devotees. The festival starts with Mahalaya and continues for the next ten days. In Kolkata, the excitement begins much before autumn even arrives. Shops start announcing puja sales, and there is frenzied buying of gifts everywhere. It is a tradition in most Bengali homes to wear a brand new outfit each day of the puja and exchange new clothes much before the actual puja week. The pandals crop up all over the city. Parks and pavements, playgrounds, and parking lots – nothing is spared. The skeletal structures of pandals are made from bamboo. The frames are then covered with cloth or canvas. The pandals are usually elaborate works of art with themes borrowed from history and religion. Out of these ten days, the celebration starts from the sixth and continues till the tenth day when the idols of the Gods and Goddesses are immersed in the water of River Ganga. In these four-five days, the entire city of Kolkata and its people are found in a complete festive mood, wearing new clothes, eating away to glory at different places, and take a tour of the entire city to visit the puja pandals and see the idols of Goddess Durga and others. On each of these four days, there are elaborate pujas that take place both in the morning and evening. The tradition of offering prayers to Goddess Durga through Anjali is followed by everyone. If you are visiting the city a few days before Durga Puja starts, you can check out the place where the idols are made, Kumartuli. This is a fantastic place where hundreds of artisans work to make idols in different sizes. Another major attraction that never ceases to surprise the citizens are the different themes and types of artwork found in the puja pandals. Each pandal has a different idea and is decorated accordingly. The idols are also created and painted, keeping in mind the theme. Say, for instance, at Suruchi Sangha in New Alipore, the committee members choose an idea based on a specific state and its culture and decorate the entire pandal and its surroundings with the cultural elements of that place. These pandals are lit up in the evening and give the eyes a magnificent view to watch. Durga Puja is the time of the year that people use to re-do their wardrobes and buy new clothes. Many of the stores offer discounts on clothes and other accessories. This is also the time when food is enjoyed from the heart without overthinking. With each pandal, there are multiple small food stalls that sell ready food for the visitors to munch. The significant restaurants offer a special menu and buffet at a special rate. Otherwise, each of the puja committees arrange for bhog as lunch. It is better to have bhog on one of the days to experience why the simple traditional food tastes so lovely only during this time. The festival ends with the Visarjan of the idols in Ganges, and thousands of visitors are found to gather on the banks to witness the scene. The Visarjan takes place on Dashami, which is followed by a get together of sorts known as BijoyaDashami. This is a day when the families and friends gather for a grand meal and praying to get back together for the coming year’s puja.Durga Puja is the celebration of homecoming of Goddess Durga with her children, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswati, Lord Kartik, and Lord Ganesha. The entire puja is about her triumph of good over evil and is a symbol of eliminating all worries of her devotees. The festival starts with Mahalaya and continues for the next ten days. In Kolkata, the excitement begins much before autumn even arrives. Shops start announcing puja sales, and there is frenzied buying of gifts everywhere. It is a tradition in most Bengali homes to wear a brand new outfit each day of the puja and exchange new clothes much before the actual puja week. The pandals crop up all over the city. Parks and pavements, playgrounds, and parking lots – nothing is spared. The skeletal structures of pandals are made from bamboo. The frames are then covered with cloth or canvas. The pandals are usually elaborate works of art with themes borrowed from history and religion. Out of these ten days, the celebration starts from the sixth and continues till the tenth day when the idols of the Gods and Goddesses are immersed in the water of River Ganga. In these four-five days, the entire city of Kolkata and its people are found in a complete festive mood, wearing new clothes, eating away to glory at different places, and take a tour of the entire city to visit the puja pandals and see the idols of Goddess Durga and others. On each of these four days, there are elaborate pujas that take place both in the morning and evening. The tradition of offering prayers to Goddess Durga through Anjali is followed by everyone. If you are visiting the city a few days before Durga Puja starts, you can check out the place where the idols are made, Kumartuli. This is a fantastic place where hundreds of artisans work to make idols in different sizes. Another major attraction that never ceases to surprise the citizens are the different themes and types of artwork found in the puja pandals. Each pandal has a different idea and is decorated accordingly. The idols are also created and painted, keeping in mind the theme. Say, for instance, at Suruchi Sangha in New Alipore, the committee members choose an idea based on a specific state and its culture and decorate the entire pandal and its surroundings with the cultural elements of that place. These pandals are lit up in the evening and give the eyes a magnificent view to watch. Durga Puja is the time of the year that people use to re-do their wardrobes and buy new clothes. Many of the stores offer discounts on clothes and other accessories. This is also the time when food is enjoyed from the heart without overthinking. With each pandal, there are multiple small food stalls that sell ready food for the visitors to munch. The significant restaurants offer a special menu and buffet at a special rate. Otherwise, each of the puja committees arrange for bhog as lunch. It is better to have bhog on one of the days to experience why the simple traditional food tastes so lovely only during this time. The festival ends with the Visarjan of the idols in Ganges, and thousands of visitors are found to gather on the banks to witness the scene. The Visarjan takes place on Dashami, which is followed by a get together of sorts known as BijoyaDashami. This is a day when the families and friends gather for a grand meal and praying to get back together for the coming year’s puja.

Getting Around

Catching local transport in Kolkata – such as trams, a speciality of Kolkata only, buses or private cars, taxis, Ola, Ubers…the options are many. Kolkata Metro Rails run all throughout the nights during the four days of Puja, so you can travel from north to south with ease. Further you can book private buses to see the special Pujas in and around Kolkata.

How To Reach

FLIGHT

Kolkata is entirely accessible by air. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose airport gets both international and domestic airplanes. There are pre-paid cabs, Volvo buses available to travel to the city.

TRAIN

Kolkata has a functional connectivity with the major cities in the country, as well as the smaller towns in West Bengal. Howrah Junction, Sealdah junction, and Kolkata Station are the major railway stations in the city.

ROAD

Kolkata is very well connected with almost all the cities of India via road and national highways. The Esplanade Bus Terminus is the main bus terminus in the town and buses for all places are available at this place.

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Surrounding Attractions

Kolkata is very well connected with almost all the cities of India via road and national highways. The Esplanade Bus Terminus is the main bus terminus in the town and buses for all places are available at this place.
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